I’m going to write about my wheelchair travels, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a life during wartime post percolating. I’m just not talking about that right now.
On Wednesday we’d made a plan that I would drive to the license authority (misrad rishui) to try to find out what happened to my handicapped parking permit (the ‘tag’) and hopefully to get it or a replacement, since I really cannot park that huge van with the side wheelchair lift in many places (mall parking lots for instance) if I can’t guarantee a wider-than-average parking space, or room on the right for the lift to descend in. Of course I couldn’t park in one of the for-handicapped parking spaces at the misrad. Fortunately there were three empty places in a row at the farthest end of the parking lot.
We – my youngest daughter and I – had timed it to arrive in plenty of time before the misrad was likely to close. Unfortunately, the road to Be’er Sheva was much worse to drive on than I had expected, so we arrived later than intended, only to find out that the ministry closed at noon instead of one in the afternoon. The security guard was quite firm about not letting us in, not answering any questions, so my youngest daughter and I turned away. I phoned The Husband to tell him the news, and I was so tired and overwrought I burst into tears.
Another Israeli miracle occurred just then, because a couple of women who had arrived just after us started yelling at the security guard, and the upshot is that we were allowed into the misrad. I rolled over the security guard’s foot, surprizing a small shriek from me, and then a bit of embarrassment all ’round. Everyone was lovely and helpful (for instance, bringing me a cup of cold water) except for the woman at the work station who was actually supposed to help me. *sigh* SHE was abrupt and unhelpful, saying we had to wait and see if it showed up in the next week (it was supposedly mailed 3 September) and refusing to answer any questions.
I’ll skip ahead a bit and say now that TH phoned the misrad after we had left, and talked to someone there who said that a new tag would be mailed right away, then when I got home I found the tag that had been mailed the beginning of September waiting for me. So it’s all good, but what a roundabout way to get there!
From misrad rishui, we drove to a ShuferSal, a supermarket that I know has a good wheelchair accessible bathroom stall. Okay, good for the general run of public toilets. It is easy enough to roll in, but if you need the outside grab-bar, there is no way to get from the wheelchair to the toilet while in the stall and with the door closed. Challenging. Fortunately I’ve a lot of experience with this one, and managed the transfer with youngest daughter’s help with no fuss or bother. One of the nicest things about this particular restroom is that the stall is not blocked by piles of cleaning supplies, stacks of toilet paper, and/or used as storage for brooms and mops. I’m not sure why people assume that the larger stall for cripples is just vacant space to use as they will, but it seems that most, do. I need all that extra room – have you ever tried to turn a vehicle around in a space that is exactly the size of the vehicle?
As long as we were there, we did a bunch of grocery shopping. When I was talking to my alternative-health-care provider last week I told her I was excited about the thought of grocery shopping! I’ve been housebound for too long. When grocery shopping feels like a treat… Anyway, it had the added blessing of being able to see what was in the store and make decisions about what to buy all by myself. You’d think I was a real functional adult! You’d be wrong, but the w/c van is certainly an improvement. 😉
After that we drove to a kenyone – mall – with a really good natural foods store. I spent WAY too much money, but had a really good time, got some organic fruits and vegetables (including Limes! – something you don’t see much in Israel, generally they are green lemons), bought myself some treats and generally wore myself out in a good cause. We had to struggle getting into the store as the door by the cripple spaces was locked tight. No one’s fault, my daughter asked and it turns out the security guard was out sick. But it was more struggle, walking around to the front of the store on not-very-wheelchair-accessible cobblestones.
On the upside, walking around like that meant I got to see and check out a housewares store at the front which I don’t remember going in. It was quite good, and I picked up a welcome mat, bathroom rugs, and assorted small housewares we could use. I look forward to going back there and possibly buying some chairs to put on the mirpesset (porch/deck). I saw some that I like a lot.
So youngest daughter and I were pretty beat by this time, yet I found myself stopping one more time, at Bezeq, the phone company, to return some piece of electronics my sister had left behind years ago. I don’t know what it was, or why it was there, but it felt so good to get it out of the house (one more thing to check off, if only I kept a list). I was also able to call a long-time friend and tell her about having the van, and how we are going on while youngest daughter was in the store. It was all good.
The drive home was likewise exciting, but it went quicker than the drive to Be’er Sheva, and we arrived home largely without incident. TH and oldest son had to get me into the house and pour me out of the wheelchair. My poor feet were so swollen they were almost misshapen, but overall I wasn’t the worse for wear – just really tired.
Things I’ve learned – I can’t reach the left-turn control while maintaining a safe hold on the joystick. I will have to have this taken care of, but for now I am not signalling left turns or lane-changes unless I can come to a complete stop first. Not the best, but better than losing control of the vehicle. – The van is too short for me in the wheelchair. Nothing I can do about it now, but assuming I am able to replace it in five years (that was what I was told) I must ask for a van with an extended roof. I have to duck my head almost to my lap rolling backward from the lift into the van, and I’ve bonked my head twice already. – I *can* drive the van using normal controls. It isn’t a good idea, as I am not sure of my legs/feet doing what they are supposed to, but it’s good to know for emergencies. – The van has a LOT of inertia. It is hard to get started and doesn’t necessarily begin to stop as soon as I apply a bit of brake. On the other hand, the brakes are powerful enough that I am more worried about going through the windshield than I am of hitting something from the front.
It is very heavy, top heavy, and the steering is taking some getting used to. I am not ‘enjoying’ my new freedom because at the moment all the driving is so tense and scary that I’m just glad when it’s over. But every time I’ve been out so far (I went into Netivot for a bit of shopping this morning) it’s been better. So I believe the day will come when I am happily driving whenever and wherever I want, enjoying that freedom I’ve now been fantasizing about for better than five years. Phew!
The fellow I knew of who had gotten a wheelchair van before me, it took him six or seven years. So I’m ahead of the curve. *grinz* Another thing – next time, it is worth it to check out available colours. The steel grey would have been a much nicer look. Just sayin’.
Happy trails. I’m driving TH into town on Sunday to run some errands, like getting to the water department, and paying for my metapelet (the one who helped me out the month that youngest daughter was in Canada). By the time we’re done paying all of the bills, there won’t be any money left. But, HaShem willing, I will still have the van!
Be well, all, and Gd bless.