Monday, January 12, 2015

Lesson Learned

 Two years ago, I dreamed of doing what I did today. I heard there was a performance at the community center and Naama wanted to go. I didn't have to figure out how I was going to get there with her on my own. We had to rush, but I hopped in a cab with her and we made it!! I was so happy to see her jumping and playing with other kids on the gymboree, but I was even happier that I was able to bring her there.

After a fun afternoon at the community center, Naama's friend's mother offered us a ride home instead of us taking a cab home. As we walked out into the night, I realized we had to cross the street to get to her car which made me uneasy, because I wasn't sure Naama was going to remain holding my hand as we crossed the street and I can't just pick her up. 

As we walked to the crosswalk, I slid my arms into the straps of my bag to get the bag on my back, but the straps got stuck on my coat, trapping my arms halfway behind me. I couldn't wiggle free and I couldn't remember the mom's name to ask her for help, because we never really talked much. She is an Israeli who understands little to no English and while I speak and understand Hebrew well, I feel there's still a cultural divide between Israelis and foreigners, so our conversations usually never went beyond a smile and hello and goodbye as we dropped our kids off at school and then rushed to get our day started, so I just continued walking behind this woman, her daughter and Naama. 

Thankfully, the mom, her daughter and Naama were holding hands, so I wasn't too worried about Naama's safety, though I must've  looked like such an idiot walking with my hands stuck halfway behind my back  AND walking with a CP limp. My predicament would've been laughable if I wasn't worried about how I, in my awkward situation was going to cross the street safely with Naama. Before I knew it, we were crossing at the crosswalk. Naama was holding on tightly to her friend's hand, who in turn was holding her mother's hand, but Naama still refused to take my hand as well. I don't know why I bothered asking her to take my hand since they were literally tied halfway behind my back, so its not like she could've held my hand anyway! 

In my sorry state, I just walked beside Naama, which worked until we got to the other side of the street and I had to step onto the curb. Because I was suddenly without arms, I couldn't hold on to the utility pole in front of me to maintain my balance as I stepped onto the curb, which is what I would normally do. I didn't ask the mom for help because obviously I didn't want her leaving the kids to help me, so I figured here goes nothing and I stepped up on to the curb knowing I was going to fall. I'm not in the best shape, therefore my balance isn't as strong as it used to be, so stepping on to a curb is daunting for me anytime, now add having my arms tied halfway behind my back and I knew a part of me was going to hit the utility pole,  I just didn't know which body part and I hoped it wouldn't hurt too much! To avoid smacking my face into the pole, I turned my head as I felt myself losing my balance and I smacked my ear on the utility pole as I fell on the curb. 

I was down, BUT I was on the curb!!! As I sat up, the mom bent down to help me. Wonderful. This kind of thing never happens to me when I'm alone, it happens in front of other people and this woman is 9 months pregnant and I have her bending to help me. Great start to possibly making a new friend. I quickly glanced to my right, looking for Naama. Thankfully she and her friend were standing on the curb watching me. 

As I was getting my bearings, a man got out of his car to help me. I asked him to take my bag off my arms. He asked if I was ok and if I needed a doctor. As I got to my feet, I assured him I was fine. I wasn't exactly gonna start explaining my disabled situation. I thanked him and we continued to make our way to the mom's car. She apologized for the car being just a bit further away. I assured her it was fine. In my world, I fall, I get back up and life goes on, but I understand how others can worry when they see someone fall. 

As she drove, I explained what happened, but I also told her that I walk the way I do because I've been disabled since birth. She started to ask questions, but her daughter started talking to her, so our conversation ended and she dropped us off a few minutes later. I was mentally kicking myself for changing my plan and accepting a ride from this woman. I had a safe plan: to get in a cab right outside the community center, no crossing streets or anything like that with Naama, but it was nice of this woman to offer us a ride and I didn't want to refuse, but I learned my lesson: never deviate from a safe plan when I'm out alone with Naama.