I know I’m disabled. I have the papers to prove that I’m disabled. Even Social Security, which is highly disinclined to agree that anyone is disabled, has declared me disabled. But here’s the thing, I don’t feel disabled. To most people, I don’t even look disabled, unless they’re particularly observant. It’s easier to notice in the wintertime because I can’t wear gloves like most people, and because I can’t wear gloves like most people, I can’t get my fucking car out of the driveway this morning because it’s got about 6 inches of snow, frozen on the top, covering the hood, window, roof, and trunk… not to mention the giant frozen hunks of combination ice-and-snow that are piled up behind it from having the gravel driveway somewhat cleared so that my husband could get out and get to work.
I will admit that I’m spoiled rotten. My husband takes amazing good care of me, but he is a substitute teacher. A substitute teacher is often called at, say, 5:30 in the morning to go to work. I, frankly, don’t how he does it; I would sooner shoot myself than have someone call me up at zero-dark-who-knows-what and tell me that I had to be somewhere else in an hour and a half. It takes me a cool hour and a half just to become fully conscious.
He taught school yesterday, and so his car and the driveway were all cleared. I take that back, the driveway was far from all cleared. It’s a gravel driveway; it was as clear as it could get in order for him to get out and get to school. Having stopped to haul someone out of a snow bank on the way home yesterday, he arrived here after dark, was up early this morning and out, and I am sure that he never gave a thought to the fact that I had planned to go grocery shopping today. He’s got enough on his mind. As a rule, out here in middle of nowhere, I/we make a shopping tour about once a week, especially in this kind of weather when you never know if you might be stuck in your house for days at a time.
So he’s gone, and I went outside to try and free my car from the ice palace, forgetting, because it’s been so long since I had to do something like that — probably about eight years — that I can’t do something like that. I shouldn’t even try to do something like that. I’ve been inside now for almost half an hour and the fingers of my right hand are still purple… and they hurt.
I hate the damn snow if I have to be out in it, otherwise I think it’s beautiful. The snow is slippery, and I can’t afford to fall down, because I can’t afford to break my fall since breaking my fall would likely mean breaking my fingers and what little ability they have left. The snow is cold, and the circulation in my hands is poor, to be generous about it. My fingers have been known to turn purple from standing at the door of an open freezer for too long… and they take a longer time to turn pink again. The snow is wet, and that means that it penetrates the only excuses for gloves that I can wear which are something that covers the palm and the back of my hand, maybe my thumbs, depending, and the first phalanxes of eight fingers; the remaining two phalanxes of those fingers are all just hangin’ out there in the cold, so eventually both my hands, every bit of them, start to freeze pretty rapidly in sub-freezing temperatures and let me tell you, that hurts like hell.
It’s at moments like this morning that I feel sorry for myself, at times when I have wanted to do some simple thing like go grocery shopping and can’t because I can’t do some other simple thing, like shovel the area behind my car and get the snow off the top of it and I can’t do it… because it takes too long and my hands will begin to freeze.
I hate feeling sorry for myself because when I step back and look at the big picture, I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world for so very many reasons, reasons that go way beyond the fact that I haven’t died more times than most people have come close. Not to mention the fact that I’ve been way the hell more disabled than this, back when I was dying from scleroderma. I was a hot mess then. But when you’re that fucked up, you are so far from being able to do almost anything that a) I think you’re entitled to feel sorry for yourself if you want, and b) you’ve got so much to deal with that there’s not much time left over for self-pity.
My life is exquisite. This little thing with my hands is like a hideous, hairy spider that falls into the whipped cream on an ice cream sundae, a temporary but deeply disturbing glitch, nothing to dwell on, just spoon the spider out, fling it against the wall, get a new spoon, and enjoy the sundae. Or in my case, shed the wet clothes, put on the headset, open the voice-activated software, make a place on my lap for a very warm cat, and just get to work.