Autumn and Disability

Today is the Autumn Equinox. Perhaps I’ll walk to the end of our street, look out over the lake and mountains, and finally figure out due west.

The equinoxes are about balance. Light and Darkness stand for a brief moment in something approaching equilibrium. Of course, this is a daily occurrence for people living on the equator, and the equinox perhaps has less meaning. Here in the high latitudes, the Equinox has held great meaning since time immemorial.

As a survivor of a catastrophic bout of polio, balance and equilibrium are major concerns for me. Falling is an ever present danger, and as I age, falling becomes more dangerous. I work hard to keep bones fit, but osteoporosis is a real threat for anyone with limited mobility.

This week, I had my yearly visit to the Post Polio Clinic at Spaulding Outpatient Rehab in Framingham, MA. That place is a godsend. Still, I often return saddened or depressed by the news of the day. For the last couple of years the discussion has focused on the difficulties I experience in swallowing, threats to my lungs, and the increasing likelihood I will soon need a power chair for recreational use. (Oddly, the idea of the chair is to save my legs for the times I really want to walk.) I am hard pressed to maintain, or recover balance after a visit to the clinic.

Sometimes I do this well, sometimes not. At my best, I manage to balance on that narrow bridge between overoptimism and despair, exuberance and immobility. I try to remember such balance is also transitory, and forgive myself, and others when we slide into turmoil.


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