I’ve got wheels
Going home from the hospital Tuesday this week, I really didn’t feel like navigating the Taipei subway and the High Speed Train stations on my own. I felt too weak. But as it turns out, it is easy to borrow a wheel-chair from the NTU hospital. And I’ve been using it ever since. I always felt sorry for people in wheel-chairs. They look so sick and unable to take care of themselves. But if you are sick and unable to take care of yourself, a wheel-chair is great. I’ve got wheels!
I get into the chair as soon as we arrive at the train station, and after that I just sit back and relax. Diane pushes me up ramps and down ramps; onto platforms, into elevators and across streets. It’s great, I can finally see some more of the world — not only nurses and doctors, but ordinary people doing ordinary things. Yes, we’re quite a sight: a big, blond, foreigner, in a wheel-chair, wrapped in a blue blanket, with a face mask to protect him against germs. And then that tiny, glamorous-looking, wife trying to push him around. Half of the people are backing off, but the other half are very helpful.
Taipei is actually quite accessible by wheel-hair — much, much better than for example London. It’s not very far from Taipei’s main train station to the hospital, and there is only one place where I have to leave the wheel chair and stand up in an escalator. Each time we get there, people inevitably rush up to help. When it turns out I can stand by myself they are disappointed. “A faker! Look he can stand!”
Actually, I would encourage you all to fake it. Borrow a wheel-chair and go around your own town for an after-noon. You’ll see the world from a totally different perspective. Above all, you learn what an insurmountable obstacle even a ten centimeter high cement ledge can be. Above all, an afternoon in a wheel-chair should be a compulsory experience for all architects and city-planners.
Transported like that, from place to place, I close my eyes. Especially after the radiation session, on the way home, when the new dosage has inflamed my throat and made me sleepy. I hear people’s voices, the sound of cars, blaring music from shops. I’m whirling around in the middle of a major metropolis and I have no control whatsoever. But I feel secure. The blanket keeps me warm and Diane is become a better driver every day. For a short second, a memory returns that was buried deep inside me — a memory of being a toddler, in a push-chair, carted around, just like this, by my parents.