Today sucked, but I learned something. Linda and I got up and because it was sunny (windy and cold…but sunny), we were going to the Goose Trail to practice on the racing chair. Only first we stopped at a bike shop as they were having a sale; plus if I was to use the chair I needed to buy a camel pack. This is a pack which stores drinks you sip in a straw, as that is how I can use the Gatorade to regulate my heart and re-hydrate in training and racing. The bike store looked at my racing wheelchair and said the left wheel was bent and needed re-tuning. Linda and I started thinking about the agreement we signed that we would return the chair “in the same (perfect) condition as we received it.”
We went to the Goose Trail anyway and found out that the gloves which are like mitts, were missing the Velcro to keep the hand tucked in with the hard leather. The velcro had been cut off, also the left thumb was virtually detached. But I was trying to keep a “good spirit” and went out to use the chair anyway, even if I didn’t have the hand strength to keep my hand closed in the “punch” position. I had been up late the night before looking at the races in the area and I wanted to set a high goal of maybe eight races. There was one in two weeks and if I could convince them to include wheelchairs then I could participate (this is what wheelchair racing series told me on the phone last week).
Well, the chair made a grinding noise as the left wheel ground into the frame, Linda could hear it many feet away on her bike and said, “Sheesh.” I tried to compensate by leaning over and away from it. There is a little V bar below the rail to the front tire and it was pushed all the way in to do turns to the right but the chair kept pulling left so hard I spent half the time making adjustment with the large turning bar. Even on a flat straight line there was no way to keep it straight. It was very disappointing but I still did I think about 1.5 km. And worked on doing uphills as well. It was just one of those things where what you hoped is not what has happened, and no matter how you try to put a happy face on it, it was getting more difficult to do. How could they not know about the chair and the gloves? I mean, for N., who raced on Saturday, did they send him to the races with a similar racing chair?
Even Linda felt that she wanted to send it back; she was frustrated with the chair but more frustrated with the association which states as the motto, “The WC Race Series has created an environment that is based on peer support and welcomes all levels of racers from the beginner to the seasoned veteran.” She was frustrated because “They” the racing association, said I have to be part of them to participate in races, and I can only do that using a particular type of chair. But then the chair and equipment they provided at a cost did not work, and on a follow up call today, they didn’t particularly care about that. And that made Linda mad at them for making things more difficult for me, and turning what should have been a good thing into a bad thing. And it irked her sense of professionalism; for an organization that “actively recruits” they don’t nurture the people who want to learn the sport. Several times she asked, “Do these people even LIKE wheelchair racing?” (And you know my motto: You make Linda cry....you die)
I called James the coach and he said that he was driving the group to the ferry. This was a surprise as we had directly asked J. the Wheelchair Race Series coordinator on Saturday if they were going to be there today so we could come back to talk to the them and were told no. This news produced a few “Oohhhh, and I heard you ask them!” from Linda. James wanted to know when I was going to come to Vancouver, as the office is right beside G. Strong, the rehab center for spinal cord injuries. Also, every Thursday night there are “Training” nights but again, only in Vancouver. So with them recruiting from Strong, and going there every week and training in Vancouver, which is a 5 hour trip each way for me, it seemed like a little club, a Vancouver club for people from G. Strong. We wondered if T., who had gone to the Paralympic games had been in Vancouver because I couldn’t see how she could train here without a coach. It turns out she moved to Australia for training. Anyway, James said I should train at the track until I was used to the chair and use duct tape on the gloves.
Since I do most of my training when Linda is at work and the track is five miles away, I sent an email to ask him how one gets there, since the chair is too long to make the corner on the bus. Also, I asked how he managed using his teeth to get strips of duct tape long enough and applied when on his own and his hands are in the gloves. Since this is what I need to do and I could really use some advice in that matter. When he told me that I was to go to a hardware store and get spacers and then take the chair apart and fix the left wheel it felt like fencing all over again. The whole, “Oh, you can’t redo the electrical wiring of your epee blade, I guess you aren’t a real fencer!” I am not particular sorry that I don’t have a dick. Meaning, I joined a SPORT, not a SPORT and HANDYWORK club. Or why is it that when you want to do a sport, the guys get all, “Oh, well if you can’t break down a bicycle from scratch and rebuild it then you probably shouldn’t ride.” Sorry, I mean some guys, and in some sports and this seems one of them. Dicks!
And to put it bluntly, I dealt with Wheelchair Sports (who I called last fall with no call back by the way), because I was told I had to. I want to keep active and do stuff. When I do badminton, they DO provide rackets to beginners and they don’t expect them to go home and restring them or give them ones that cannot be used. If I wanted to learn how to repair wheelchairs, I wouldn’t pay to have them serviced, and to expect someone with limited hand function to, what, do all the breakdown and rebuilding of something they have never seen. Yeah, this sport really welcomes beginners. Plus, I pointed out to James that my next race was in two weeks and I didn’t think the racing chair would be ready by then. He agreed that I should do the race in my day chair. Which sounds a lot like how I did the races before, and didn’t require a rental fee, a membership fee, an insurance fee, several phone calls, emails and hours and hours of waiting. Also, I find the idea of training on a track, going around and around in one direction as training for a 10K on a ROAD race to be strange. So I am going to train on the Goose.
Anyway, in the afternoon I had a very strong attack and could see blue out of one eye and my hands turned blue, my heart barely beat and Linda debated if I had to go back to the hospital. So….five hours later (once I was conscious again) I made a decision. A) Both major attacks (Linda wondered if this was another seizure) occurred after a lot of stress and I am going to keep that at a minimum for things which are non-essential. B) We took the wheel in and had it re-bent and trued and paid for it and tomorrow we are going to the techs to see if they can make this chair usable, and if they can’t….well, the cost of 7 trips to Vancouver for “training” could buy me a brand new racing chair. Or I could just keep doing what I am doing, racing to keep fit in the chair that I have.
I also decided that barring someone actually going out of their way to include me, I have no real interest in joining wheelchair sports. Because I like sports, and I like playing with people who aren’t bigots. And so far, I have yet to find much in the way the organization for BC SCI’s has treated me that isn’t a lot like bigotry. At the track meet they were talking about some of the people had their chair bought for them by the Rick Hansen foundation (available only to SCI’s) or the Power to Be program (available only to SCI’s) and as the Director of Wheelchair Race series said to me, “demyelination of the spine is NOT a spinal injury” (Good news for all those people with MS in wheelchairs then I guess). Well, I fell for it for a weekend and tried to be what I am not; I have a spinal cord injury, even if not recognized by SCI organization, as well as a greater failure of the autonomic function than most or any SCI’s. I am a degenerating neuro and Janet told me that if the SCI people found that out they likely would refuse to give me a classification “until I stabilized” (which for a degenerating neuro is when you get put six feet under). Nice. Well, if I can live with being me as a wheelchair racer, I guess they will learn to live with us lower ranked people with disabilities. Or as a true story told me yesterday, “A quad told someone with CP, ‘I’m so glad you are here, so now I have someone to pick on’” (Since the para’s pick on the quads, and on down.)
Cheery eh. But still, be who I am. And let go have fun and play badminton and do a bit of wheeling when it is fun because until that peer support comes, I see no reason to change my intention of taking judo and hanging and playing sports with people who interest me, which, with the exception of T. and her friend, seem to be those NOT in sports where only wheelchairs are welcome. I DO wheelchair sports, because every sport I do in a wheelchair IS a wheelchair sport; I don't need to segregate myself to be an athlete.
5 hours ago