I’ve been thinking a lot lately (and I think I’ve written here about it) about how a gimp can reduce his carbon footprint – a term which is rapidly becoming annoyingly hip and buzz-wordy. I can hear Garth telling some square, “Hey, dude, like, reduce yer carbon footprint, man!” Pretty soon chicks won’t go out with guys if their carbon footprint is too big. It becomes a status symbol and a fashion accessory.
Anyway, I thought, well, maybe I can drive to the nearest metro bus stop, and ride at least part way to and from work. The nearest stop to my office is a block from the door, so I went out today at lunchtime to walk to the bus stop, to see how it felt. I decided to walk half way and back again as a measure of how it would feel to walk the whole way. At the half way point I saw a big cardboard box in the middle of the road. So, wanting to be a good citizen, I went out and poked it to the curb. I didn’t go so far as to properly dispose of it, but at least I got it off the road.
Then, as I tried to step over the curb back onto the grass, I had that very surreal moment when I knew I was going to fall down. I have fallen so few times that it is still a surreal moment, and a very odd experience – me, a grown (old?) man, falling down like a youngster just learning to walk, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk. So I fell, fortunately onto the grass, and though I don’t think anyone saw me fall, it was still a humbling and in some way a humiliating experience. It was, at the very least, a completely unnecessary reminder of my condition, that I am unstable on my feet, and I thought, irrationally and angrily, that perhaps I should not be walking at all. I stumbled back to my desk, and crashed on my chair, exhausted and more sore from the fall than I thought I’d be.
I have a good friend who called his wife a few nights ago, to tell her that he was riding his bike home from work. She got another call about 20 minutes later from a man who had found my friend lying on the side of the road, the wheels of his bike still spinning. The man making the call was, by pure chance, a cardiologist, who knew enough to stabilize my friend’s neck while he waited for the ambulance. (Note to all of you: add “ICE” to your cell phone directory – immediate emergency contact, with the phone number of the person emergency responders should contact. These people are trained to look for this entry in the cell phones of people they rescue.) The end result is that my friend is in the ICU, in a coma. His prognosis is up in the air. He might wake up tomorrow, or next week, or two years from now, or never.
As I massaged my shoulder and my ego, I thought of this friend, and realized that however bad things might feel at any moment, when looked at in a larger context, they are never really all that bad. Still, I am not one of those people – at least not yet – who can fall down in the street and get back up laughing about it. It pretty much soured the rest of my day. Even though earlier in the day I’d had a short but delightful chat with a woman in Miami about the weather down there, there was still a very dark cloud over my head. MS sucks.