A few weeks ago I went to see the movie 12 Years a Slave. This film moved me deeply although it wasn’t only the film that made the excursion memorable.
I had been looking forward to going out this particular evening with my favourite person; I got changed after work and waited in the car park to be picked up. We went across the road to the bus stop where I got on public transport for the first time in God knows how many years. We took one train and then another before reaching our destination and making our way to the cinema. The entire journey took an hour and a quarter to complete. People smiled as we went past them and one woman stopped for a chat in a lift at one of the train stations. During this journey I giggled like a schoolgirl and desperately hoped we would bump into someone I knew so I could wave.
I know what you’re thinking, “geez Nina you really need to get a life. It’s only public transport”.
You might be right but I was once again perched on the arm of my boyfriend’s motorized wheelchair and loving every minute, (although I suspect the company may have had something to do with it). To me it was just another sign of how far I have come. I remember even before I went blind being horribly embarrassed at sitting on my own collapsible wheelchair. In order to actually see the sights when I went on holiday I had to take it with me but it had to be kept a deep dark secret, and God forbid it snuck into a photo. I was so against the idea that I refused to take one with us when we went on holiday to Italy. Instead I opted for being piggy-backed around by my Dad at the age of 14. Coz you know, that’s much more grown up.
But I digress…
For those of you who haven’t seen it (and I recommend you do), 12 Years a Slave follows the story of a free black man living with his wife and child in Saratoga, New York state, in post-civil war America. He was abducted and forced to live under grueling conditions as a slave on a sugar cane plantation in New Orleans for 12 years before being released. During his enslavement he was abused both physically and emotionally and even forced to inflict similar abuse on his fellow slaves. Despite the horrific conditions and the desperation and feelings of hopelessness gripping his fellows, he was able to recognize that there is always someone worse off than himself. This is a true story and it was a great lesson.
It occurred to me that yes sometimes life is hard and things won’t always go my way but I have a choice as to how I deal with it. I can make the best of it if I choose too.
Lately the pessimist within has resurfaced. I got myself a summer cold which due to my generosity I shared with everyone. That cold sent me deaf again and that deafness made me worry.
I have often been accused of being a drama queen and maybe I am. But, having been recently referred to a specialist to discuss the possibility of me having a Cochlear implant to assist my dodgy hearing, and now having blocked ears due to my cold, I was a little freaked out! To make matters worse it was only February and I couldn’t get an appointment until May.
Forgetting all logic and the average duration of a cold, I began to think “without my hearing I would lose; my job, my boyfriend, my friends and my life as I knew it”. Basically it was the end of the world! Outwardly though it was no big deal. I joked about it and told everyone how hilarious it was in an effort to save them from worry even though a cochlear implant is a huge decision to make and a huge transition to undergo. I kept telling everyone “I beat blindness and I can beat deafness too!”
Eventually my cheerful facade crumbled and I had to admit out aloud for the very first time that I felt isolated, vulnerable and scared not to mention the embarrassment at having yet another disability.
In admitting this the world did not stop turning and the sky did not fall in. Instead a weight was lifted from my shoulders as I gained some much needed perspective by finally talking about it. It was ok to be stressed about this. It is a big deal but I don’t have to do it all on my own and no one will think any the less of me. Wow!
Of course, my cold cleared up and my hearing came back. Who would have thought?
I am now a REFORMED drama queen.