As with any of you living with a disability, my journey toward independence has been showered with ubiquitous “ups” and, at times, littered with dubious “downs.” One of the downers is shopping.
Just like the able-bodied, I use earth-friendly bags, paper bags and, less often, the plastic bag. Unlike an able-bodied person, I do the stack-on-my-lap, carry-with-my-teeth, and hang-around-my-neck tricks transporting my haul. In the “FYI” chapter of Views From My Chariot http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html , I proudly share some of my inventive uses of plastic grocery bags for you other chariot (wheelchair) riders…even catching chipmunks. Yes, it’s a fascinating read and an excellent gift!
But, here’s one proven not so ingenious use. DO NOT try this at home, at work, or anywhere else.
I wanted to check my mail. From the street, my driveway slopes down to my house. My mailbox is halfway down my driveway, equidistant from the street and my house. (The P.O. approved my putting it off the street since I’m disabled.)
The wind was whipping as it began to rain. Being a SCI quadriplegic, I don’t have the dexterity to hold an umbrella and wheel uphill, so I thought I’d use an opaque plastic bag over my head as a rain hat; you know, like the clear plastic ‘rain hats’ your grandmother used after leaving the beauty shop on rainy days. It would keep my hair dry, and I could safely see through it.
I put it over my head and face, its handles hanging down over my ears like earmuffs. To secure it, I held the handles with my teeth and began my grind up to the box. Of course, to prevent a runaway wheelchair from sabotaging my errand in the rain, I had to brake my chair at the mailbox.
Once all my mail and catalogs were safely balanced on my lap, I unlocked my brakes. Again, to prevent a “runaway wheelchair” from skidding off the back of my covered carport, I held them in tension against my wet tires; yet, speedily grinding downhill.
Instantly, the wind’s pressure swooshed the plastic bag airtight against my face. My hands otherwise occupied, I couldn’t remove it…and I couldn’t breathe!
Although I could clearly see my carport, it seemed an eternity away. With bulging eyes, I finally screeched to a frantic halt on its level pavement, snatched off the suffocation bag, and gratefully gasped in depleted air. Whew! I didn’t pass out!
Lesson learned: The “Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this plastic bag away from babies and children….” lacks clarity.
I still use the multi-purpose opaque plastic bags. But now, on rainy, windy days—not only as a creative solution, but also representative of my winning attitude, I stick my tongue out against the bag. This gives me an air pocket when it tries to suffocate me.
Is my disability the result of oxygen deprivation, you wonder? It’s up for debate.