Able-bodied, happily married heterosexual people from happy families with siblings who still speak to them tend to live in a bubble. Many think the whole world has a “neighbor,” the “people upstairs” and regularly ask “why not call your family they will come over and help.”
The other day after I showered and was not back in my wheelchair yet, a sidetable, the collapsible kind that people use when they eat dinner In front of TV, was beside my sofa chair with a laptop and a fragile glass of water on it. As I shuffled the 2 feet across from my bed to my sofa I knocked the table and it intrigued the cat. As the water in the glass rippled, the cat jumped onto the table and it started to tip. Ella’s laptop was there and it started to fall off to the floor. As the cat surfed the table I still had my foot on the floor. I moved to catch the laptop and the heavy top of the table slammed across the middle of all 5 toes.
While I was screaming my toes started immediately to swell. I was only half dressed and 10 feet from my wheelchair, 15 feet from the locked front door and in a building where if you are not Korean, Ukrainian or Chinese you can’t communicate. I speak Ukrainian but I couldn’t get to my chair, so I couldn’t get to the clothesm the door or anyone if there was help.
I posted on Facebook my dilemma and Immediately well meaning, and I’m sure caring friends posted, tell a neighbor they said or call family. Another suggested to ” turn your TV up till someone comes to complain?” And several other people, assuming I had a Leave it to Beaver come Brady bunch family waiting in the wings to help asked why I was alone?
In a perfect world where there is no economical crisis, and people can afford to stay home or nurses and home care can be afforded. In those cases there would be someone here. People need to realize that in these times, statistics released recently in North America and England show that like me, because of financial pressures and broken families most adult disabled people are left alone at home to fend for themselves while their spouse or prominent other goes to work. In some cases they are totally alone, unchecked for 12-16 hours a day.
Family, I learned long ago is not always the people from the same vagina. It’s the people who are there when you need them most. My family and it is very large, even if I was back in Australia would not care enough to come around no matter what the problem was. We haven’t spoken in over 20 years. Because of the screwed up medical system in this country, the one you Republicans are afraid to replace with so called Obamacare, is broken. Whether Republicans care or not, the constant slamming doors at any version of social service spent on people like me, with a myriad of disabilities, is condemned. We are left totally alone.
On a good day, I make it from 7am when Ella leaves till after 7pm when she returns. Short of a state of emergency I am my own caregiver 12 hours a day 5 days a week.
What can we do about that? Well we will all grow old and probably disappear before our government will help, so it’s up to you. I know I have over 50 people in the five boroughs who know I’m disabled and home alone, but not one has ever dropped by yet they will wonder why no one comes running. So if you know somebody who is in my position, go visit. Why have your Starbucks with a stranger? Grab two to go and check on a friend. Let your elderly, disabled, pregnant or recovering from surgery friend know that they have your number and you’re a phone call away. Form a support group of friends. Make a time table, work out days of the weeks, weeks of the month and draw up a calendar and put it on the disabled friends fridge. If your friend God forbid finds themselves in need of quick support or they simply need help they look on the fridge and they call the name and the number on the day and they have support. If this is confusing, think of it as interactive Facebook or “friending” it the old fashioned way. Call it what you want but while you’re in the calling mood call someone who needs to know that someone cares.