May. 1st, 2010

sac_whovian: (Avon by Sallymn)
This isn't a great meta post, but a recollection of an experience with a paraplegic co-worker. I kinda think of it as... there's more to being a paraplegic than just losing your legs.

It was probably 6 years ago, and I was working as a representative of my division to Facilities. One of my guys, the paraplegic, emailed me that because of his new wheelchair, he needed his office door modified so it would open mechanically. So I dutifully sent the request to Facilities, on their proper forms.

Ah, but Facilities hated to change the building because of people's needs. Truly, the building is meant to be maintained and protected against human degradations in their opinion. So they had to be convinced that the door needed to be changed, and came over for a meeting with the guy.

And indeed, his wheelchair was quite large and sorta stretched out, and he had a hard time opening the door and then maneuvering his wheelchair through it. He could manage getting in when he had the hallway to back up and reposition, but once inside he was essentially trapped unless someone opened the door for him. Emergencies particularly concerned him.

The Facilities guy was clearly not buying that this maneuver was so incredibly problematic that it justified the expense and trouble of putting a mechanical opener on the door. So he asked, but what about going to the bathroom? Which seemed a rude question to me, and asked with such an undertone of 'gotcha, you're exaggerating the problem,' that I kinda wanted to smack him.

The paraplegic didn't seem to hear the undertone (or was so accustomed to being doubted he toned it out), but he was a garrulous talker, so he responded happily and thoroughly about his colostomy bag. Alllllll about it. In great detail. And how if it got full during the day, who helped him empty it.

Even threw in a little bit about his bedsores, IIRC.

So then I wanted to snicker. Because omg, the Facilities guy really wanted to escape, because he was not remotely interested in some co-worker's colostomy bag. I nodded intently and looked fascinated, encouraging the paraplegic to continue, 'cuz you know? You doubted him; you get to listen to his explanation.

Needless to say, the paraplegic got his door redone so he could open it with a remote.

He died last year, of pneumonia that he probably wouldn't have had except for the continual health issues he experienced since the car accident that paralyzed him. I didn't know him well, but I miss him, and I was always glad he was able to articulate his needs so well and make people understand.

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January 2011

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