Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor…

…no, on second thought, please don’t.  I am tired and poor enough for at least 2 people.

This week has been busy – I am ramping up to become more active, both in the community and just in general.

I was feeling somewhat guilty asking Nancy Downstairs for rides; even though she has never complained, or even said “no”, her schedule is so draining and I can see how tired she is.  I decided I needed to get out more on my own, without taking the senior van all the time (too expensive).

I decided to start taking the bus.

There is a bus stop at the end of my block – close enough so that, on some days, I can walk there with minimal effort.  I still need to use my cane, but that’s ok.

The bus that stops here goes to the courthouse, a small grocery store, and downtown Hollidaysburg, then heads out to Altoona – Walmart, the local shopping mall, and all the way downtown to the Transit Center (basically a large bus stop where you can transfer to other buses).  It takes about 1 1/2 hours to get from my house to the Transit Center.

It’s a relatively easy system to travel on, with one exception: Central PA has a “thing” about crosswalks.  Meaning, they don’t have many.

Drive anywhere in Altoona, in particular, and you’ll see street after street with a sign that has a pedestrian with a circle and a line across it – no crossing here.  It’s on nearly every street corner.

And, yes, I have spoken to at least 3 people who have gotten tickets for jaywalking.  The cops really don’t like to see people crossing where they aren’t supposed to.

But the thing is, it makes it really hard to ride the buses, or indeed even to walk anywhere.

A good example of this is my bank.  On Monday, instead of asking Nancy Downstairs to take me to the nearest bank, I decided to take the bus.  I realized I could take the bus to my closest bank branch in Altoona – about a 20 minute ride – but…

…I had no way of getting back.

Ok, that’s not strictly true – I could have gotten back by standing at the same bus stop at which I disembarked, then have ridden the bus further into Altoona and to the Transit Center, where I would have sat on the bus and waited for it to then head off towards Hollidaysburg.

Total trip time: about 2 hours, not including “waiting-for-the-bus-to-come” time.

And it’s all because there is no way of crossing the street (Plank Rd/Pleasant Valley Rd, for those of you who might be familiar).

So…my alternate plan was to go to the branch of my bank that actually had a crosswalk.  That took me nearly to the Transit Center anyway, but at least I managed to get off the bus, cross the street to the bank, do my business, walk a few blocks and catch the same bus on the other side of the street when it headed back – not such a long wait.

But a fairly taxing walk for someone with no lumbar disks.

By the time I got back home, I was pooped.

Yesterday, I took the bus to get my hair cut, and came home.

Total bus time (including waiting) – an hour.  Total fare – $1.50

So, not so bad.  Had I taken the senior van, the wait may have been shorter but it would have cost me $6.  Again, though, I came home very tired.

Today I decided to pick up something at the mall I had bought – why pay for shipping? – but miscalculated.   The ride to the mall was ok, but the store…that was at the opposite end of the mall and I was not having a particularly “spry” day.  That took me a very long time, and was very tiring.

I expect this to get better, though.

After all, when I lived in Dublin 15 years ago, I thought my feet were going to fall off my legs, they hurt so much from all the walking I did.

I lost 5 dress sizes in less than a year.

Of course, my back was ok then.  But I think the stamina issue is similar.  My back will probably continue to cause me issues, but I think as I walk more – I hope so, anyway – it will get easier.

I think I just need to know my limitations.

Tomorrow, I am going to the local hospital to meet the volunteer coordinator.  The Senior Companion Program has assigned me there.  My idea is to take the senior van to the hospital ($3 and half an hour), then take the bus home (.75 and almost 2 hours) – I can’t afford to volunteer, otherwise.

But I am bringing my cane, because the last thing I want to do is give the impression that I can stand for prolonged periods of time or do other things that I cannot do right now.  I hate that, but when I expressed that to Nancy Downstairs, and said, “I hate giving the impression I am disabled”, she said…

“But you are.”

And she’s right.  I am a person with a disability.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and pretending otherwise just results in misunderstandings and a lot of pain/fatigue for me.

It is not my defining characteristic, as it isn’t anyone’s defining characteristic.  This is one of those “talk the talk, walk the walk” experiences now.

I realize that 15 years is a long time ago, and having flat lumbar disks is also a factor that wasn’t in play then…but I feel as if I have to try.   Like anything in my life (my former marriage, for example), I have to give it all I’ve got before I decide to throw in the towel and give up.

Or, in this case, not exactly “give up”, but “adjust”.  There’s nothing wrong with that, as I am not one of those “you create your own reality” lunatics who think every issue in life – from health to finances to relationships – is something you can just “visualize” better and poof! so it is.

That’s kind of funny coming from a Wiccan, isn’t it?

But even I know that there is no spell that can make my disks grow back – magick just doesn’t work that way.

So, anyway…changes.  Attempts.  Adjustments.  And hopefully, a schedule at the hospital that doesn’t involve more than 3 days/week, because honestly I think that’s all I can handle right now.

Today’s weirdness comes from CBS, and it’s a story about a giant inflated jack-o-lantern that caught a gust of wind and bounced down the highway:

“Caught on Video: Arizona Drivers Dodge Giant Inflatable Pumpkin” (CBS News website, 10/30/15).   It just made me giggle.

Recommendation for this week is a 2-part movie (I guess it was originally on TV) called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”, based on the book by Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morrie”).  I liked it because it stars Jon Voight, who was terrific.  Sure, the movie is kind of sappy, with emotional music and some tired platitudes but…

…what you do affects others, sometimes (many times) in good and wonderful ways of which you are oblivious.  This is something I tried to get across to patients/clients who thought their lives were meaningless, who thought they had no impact on anyone else except in bad ways.

People underestimate how much a kind word, a smile, a small kindness can mean to another person.  I will blog more about that at some point, but it’s a mistake to discount the impact one human being can have on another.  This movie points that out.

Be good.  Be kind.  What you do really does matter.


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