Going Downhill Blind

I don’t quite know where I’ve been lately. I spend plenty of time in front of my computer, and I even have a list of things to write about. But I seem to spend more time than usual staring out the window.

I’ve been working with a physical therapist who actually comes to my house to torture me. Karen is great, very positive and she’s put together a great program for me to follow. She made it clear to me that I needed to look at my PT as my job. That attitude has helped me to actually do the stretches and exercises every day. Last week, I was lamenting to her that, while it feels really good while I am doing my “workout,” is done not to get stronger. The goal, as Karen put it, is to freeze this progression where it is, to slow the downhill slide. And there is no measure of whether or not it is doing me any good in that respect. The routine is about 40 minutes long, and about an hour after I finish, I am toast. At least I am sore and achy all over for a reason now.

I hope you have had the chance to catch at least some of the Paralympics. I am blown away by watching downhill skiers, racing on one leg, or sitting in a spring-loaded seat on a single ski, or, even blind. Able-bodied ski racers have had to work hard and sacrifice a great deal to reach the top of their sport, but paralympians have had to struggle and fight just to get out of bed and stand – and then hone their sport. When I see a paralympic skier at the starting gate, I know she has had a huge struggle and fight just to get there. I am at a loss for words. I keep thinking of Ginger Rogers comment that her role in dancing with Fred Astaire was harder because she had to do it backwards and in heels. These athletes have had to endure amputations, multiple corrective surgeries, the horrors of war, etc., and then muster the courage and strength to strap into a hocky sled and go out on the ice and mix it up. Or drop out of the starting gate and plunge down the ski slope relying on a guide skiing ahead of them to tell them where to turn. It ALL blows me away. I am sorry there doesn’t seem to be a bigger audience for this. I can understand – we just had more olympic winter sport than we needed, and maybe people find watching a one-legged skier to be a little creepy. But I am sorry more people don’t watch this. The fact that I have not seen a single mention of the event in the mainstream news is a shame. There was an overload of coverage of the Olympics, but hardly a word about the Paralympics.

A quick kudos to Proctor and Gamble for producing a TV ad for their “Swiffer,” cleaning products, featuring a father/husband with a missing arm. The ad shows him interacting with his family just like a normal guy (!) and extolling the virtues of the Swiffer line, which allows him to be more involved in the cleaning. I like the fact that the ad not only doesn’t gloss over the fact that this man is missing an arm, but calls attention to it. All done to sell dust mops, but it’s a start!


Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

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