Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Cripmalion

Yesterday I took a trip to the movies with two carers, who have now become part of my extended family, and three of my favourite residents at Youngcare.


Carer 1 calls me on my shit all the time, who also generates laughs and lively debate at every opportunity. Though he is more than ten years older than me, he's the paid carer who I've most enjoy doing things with. He's more like a cool uncle. Carer #1 is a semi professional musician who pays the bills by wiping my arse, and doing an imitation of Springsteen whilst helping me in the shower, so he can actively pursue his true purpose.

Carer #2 is probably the best all around carer I've ever come across (I have had well over 200 in my lifetime, that's how good she is). She is empathetic, warm, generous and deftly negotiates the fine balance of helping me when I need it, and staying out of the way when I don't. I was telling someone last week that if someone asked Carer 2 to jump in front of a bus for me, she would probably do it, and I wasn't using hyperbole. Yet despite the fact that I tell her how good she is at her job (and as a person), she struggles to understand the compliment. She is the same age as my older brother, and half the time I just want to be the protecter, and tell her that everything is going to be OK, if she just believed most of the justified compliments that I, and others, give her. She is probably the closest thing to an older sister I will ever have.

Resident #1 is a lady who has absolutely no filter, but has a heart of gold if you can join (and understand) her flights of fancy. She insists that I call her 'Nanna', even though she is the same age as my Mother. Depending on her mood, which can fluctuate every 10 seconds, she'll either call me 'My Toddicles' or 'Little Shit,' sometimes in the same sentence.

Resident #2 hardly spoke to anyone when I arrived, but his ability to speak has improved so much that today he started a conversation with an usher by exclaiming 'Hi, how are you? Do you get free drinks because you work here?!' He is a cheeky bastard, and living proof that sometimes the remarkable recoveries that you see on TV are real.

Resident #3 is a man who likes to keep to himself and always stays in his own room, but I can always get him to go out if I promise him free beer. He loves to tell me stories of his days as the guitarist of a well known pub band in the 1980s. He told me several debortuous stories of his pub days last week. It was the first time I've ever seen him grin from ear to ear.

After the movie voyage.  I was reflecting on the fact that I'm only six weeks shy of two years at Youngcare. That means that its more than 4 years since the 'madness' began. If you told me in 2010 that I would willingly go out and enjoy my time with three crips with various levels of cognitive impairment, I would have had you committed. However I am slowly learning to get rid of my Crip Snobbery and I no longer ignore crips who aren't 'at my level intellectually'.

This is the most unexpected surprise of my time at Youngcare. I now understand the duel dichotomies of disability. Prior to moving in, I had only come across people who had developed their disability from birth, like me. Currently I am the only who lives at my complex with a congenital disability. I have never known what it is like to lose ability to look after yourself. I've always been like this. I thought I knew about disability 4 years ago, but really I know now that I had no idea.

I had always hoped that I would meet people like Carer 1 and Carer 2 when I moved, but what I didn't expect are the lessons I've been taught by the Residents in my complex, particularly the ones mentioned above.

I am the crippled Henry Higgins.



I wonder if '... that blasted plain...' has wheelchair access?

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