A lesson in humility
When I woke up this morning I was angry. Angry because the dogs woke me up when they barked sometime during the night. Angry because I didn't sleep all that well last night, due to the backache. Angry because I couldn't turn over without help when I wanted to. Angry that my wife had to give me my daily bed bath Angry that I couldn't do it myself.
Angry that a hoist was brought to lift me from bed to chair Angry that I couldn't get out of bed by myself. Angry that I could not put the toothpaste on my brush. Angry that I had to be helped to go to the toilet. Angry that I spilt some of my cornflakes down my shirt front. Angry that I couldn't clean up for myself Angry that I had to sit in my wheelchair again today Angry that I would have to amuse myself all day Angry, angry, angry.
I switched on the TV in the lounge of my three bedroom house and waved goodbye to my wife as she drove her car on her way to work. Then I sat in my power driven wheelchair and watched parts of a documentary about ghettos, squatter camps, slums or whatever they are called in various parts of the world.
The ramshackle dwellings, held together by a few screws, lots of nails, some string and a large portion of prayer. 'Houses' covered in plastic for waterproofing. No insulation against the cold or heat. The lack of running water and no decent sanitation. The filth and general squalor of the places was and is disgusting to the educated and affluent.
Now I don't think of myself as being affluent by any means but to the millions of people who live in abject poverty I am extremely rich.
To the people who live in these hell holes it is home and their way of life. They have no place else to go and some know no better. They sleep side by side for warmth and mostly on the hard floor. Walk for miles to get fresh water. Haven't seen a proper bath in a lifetime and then go searching for work without eating anything.
They have to walk for miles to get to the nearest bus stop or taxi rank if they can afford it, or they have to leave early enough to get to work in time. They then come home at the end of the day and have to deal with having to try to sleep with hunger pangs gnawing at their stomachs.
Then I thought of the elderly, the sick and the disabled. How would I fit into these poor little homes? My bed alone would take up most of the space. My hoist would be useless in the confined space and would have to be stored outside. Likewise with my power wheelchair which in any case would be useless due to lack of electricity to recharge the batteries.
As a matter of fact all wheelchairs would be rendered useless due to lack of roads etc. If you've ever tried to push or pull a wheelchair across sand you will understand. There would be no computer, phone or TV. I would have to sleep on the cold hard floor, sore back and all. I wouldn't be able to seek medical help because I wouldn't be able to get there in the first place and wouldn't be able to pay for it in the second place. No medication for pain or anything else. How would I go to a non existent toilet because I would not fit into these porta-potties. It takes my hoist or two people to lift me.
And I thought I had problems. I thought I had the right to be angry when things are not going my way. I had the right to complain and to feel sorry for myself.
Instead of anger there should be gratitude for what comfort I have, for my darling caring wife, children and loving friends. My home, car and my wife's job.
Yes in the eyes of many millions around the world I am affluent and I am sure that millions of healthy people would gladly trade places with me 'disease and all'. For them, my life that I grumble and get angry about, would be preferable to theirs.
I am sorry Lord for my ingratitude and I thank you for your provision.
About the author: many years of hands on experience with disability. Wheelyboy has written numerous articles which have been published in magazines in South Africa and on a few sites on the internet.