To start with, once you spend most of your life in a wheelchair, you are never anonymous. You cant just slip in somewhere and hover round the back. No you are there for all to see with what amounts to a huge flashing light on the top of your head. Thats how I feel anyway, and despite my laid back appearance, inside my stomach is often in a thousand knots. Its not easy seeing people we used to know very well, and as we left the city quite quickly there had not been time for the Goodbyes. So people had sort of heard about me, a few had seen me a couple of years ago now but these things get lost in a collective memory, so to many I was a huge shock. I had paved the way by sending a few e mails just to say and Oh by the way... umm... I need wheelchair access, so everyone knew I was coming,but frankly it was like The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba!
It wasn't easy, lots of people came to see us and you could so easily see the face of many, people don't conceal their thoughts well I can tell you. How lovely to see you, eyes flick down, eyebrows arch, they register the chair and start to shift uncomfortably. Its times like this I wish people would just come out with it... you know, OMG what happened to you? It would be so much easier. I'm never sure if I should just launch into an explanation or let it go. I was rescued by a couple of people who deserve a mention if ever anyone did. Firstly there was Max who spent ages in conversation, had the guts to ask me what was wrong and then made a very appropriate response. Then Michael who came and talked to me especially as he could see I was totally overwhelmed by the crowd and pulled up a chair to do so. Very thoughtful as its horrible trying to have a conversation looking up at people all the time. I was patronised by a few but the less said the better.