As everything has been a bit doom and gloom lately I was determined to write a ‘happy’ story. I had a real fight with the grumpy gremlins in my computer who were trying to make it miserable, but I think I won in the end. At least I thought I had until they insisted on writing the final sentence. I still think it’s uplifting; see what you think. 😀
What have I got to be happy about? I shattered my leg when the damn stupid drunk driver caused the accident which left me helpless and a cripple.
I lost my job when I couldn’t walk, let alone drive my lorry all over the continent delivering components for my bastard of a boss.
Big deal. The guys at the depot came to see me in hospital and even brought grapes for f… sake. How long did they think the thousand pounds they collected would last me? I used to earn more than that on a good week.
My landlord gave me notice to quit so I had to move out of my flat. Sure I didn’t pay his rent for six months but where did he think I’d get the money from? Maybe he believes it grows on trees. It was a shit-hole anyway.
Well, at least that’s what I said until I discovered what that expression really meant. Looking back perhaps it wasn’t that bad. It was in a nice area, two decent sized bedrooms, an all mod cons kitchen, and free access to a gym and swimming pool in the basement. What good is that to me now when I can’t even walk properly?
From everything you read you would think life is a doddle for the disabled. Free this and that, regular benefits, rent paid, badge so you can park anywhere. Not a lot of good when you can’t even drive a car, let alone a ten-ton truck.
And the forms you have to fill in! Repeating the same information over and over again, being tossed from one department to another. Does it really matter what my Mother’s maiden name was if I’m just trying to get the jobsworths at my local council to pay my rent?
What business is it of theirs if I’ve got a few bob stashed away? I slaved for every penny, sleeping in the truck to comply with stupid long distance driving rules, eating in greasy spoons and having to shout at ruddy, dumb foreigners abroad who couldn’t even understand English.
The hassle I put up with I should be used to stupid paperwork but this stuff is in a class of its own. The first person who mentions the word ‘assessment’ is going to get a punch in the mouth. My leg might be knackered but there’s nothing wrong with my fists.
Another thing. How do they expect me to get to the centre to ‘review my case?’ Cabs cost money and why should I pay? Isn’t that what the National Health is for?
More letters saying they’ve arranged an appointment for me to have physio.
Not ‘When would be convenient?’ Just ‘An appointment has been booked for you at…’
Anyone would think I’ve got nothing better to do. OK, I haven’t, but they don’t know that.
Then you get there and sit waiting in some stuffy, overcrowded room, and have to fill in even more forms before some slip of a girl tries to tell you what to do. Listen love, you’re young enough to be my daughter so don’t give me orders about doing some stupid exercise three times a day to keep the muscles active.
Once you’re ‘in the system’ it’s a constant barrage of letters, and people visiting your crummy new flat, and saying they will install a hand rail to help you, and talking about a mobility scooter. Can you believe it? Pottering around at two miles an hour when I used to run my truck up to and over the maximum motorway speed limits all over Europe.
Friends? Oh yeah. Those people you used to go up the pub with. Fine when you dipped your hand in your pocket to buy the next round, but after visiting a few times you won’t see them for love nor money. One guy even had the cheek to call me a miserable, selfish git who didn’t appreciate that people were trying to help. That’s just before he walked away on his two strong legs.
Life went from bad to worse. It was too much effort to cook, even if I could have got to the shops to buy the ingredients. I couldn’t get out to the restaurants I used to frequent so I started ordering online. The scum who did my deliveries had no patience when it took me a while to get to the door, and several takeaways banned me for being abusive to their delivery guys. They were only interested in taking my money and the food was shit anyway.
I started ordering from the supermarkets for stuff I could chuck in the microwave, and who could blame me if I added some booze to wash it down. Over time my shopping list changed, and with money tight I cut down on the food until alcohol was the main thing on my list.
If I never saw anyone or went out there wasn’t much point in changing my clothes or having a bath every day. Even though the council had installed a bath hoist it was a pain remembering to keep the battery on charge. Anyway it would use up electricity which would eat into my meagre benefits, and a bit of dirt never hurt anyone.
It was only when someone called from some tin-pot charity explaining that the neighbours had complained about the smell from my flat that I actually looked round and saw how low I had fallen.
At first I wasn’t going to let her in, but she was about my age and it was a long while since I’d had a proper conversation with anyone.
I used to be a bit of a dandy, loving designer clothes and always up to date with the latest aftershave. Shave? That made me realise how long it was since a razor had actually touched my cheeks. Designer stubble is one thing but this was more than a five o’clock shadow.
Although she was a gentle soul she was stubborn, and over time teased me out of my self-pity, and made me see the world through her eyes.
Despite my protests she made me sit and watch the Paralympics. So many people without arms or legs, blind, deaf, you name it, but all with a smile on their faces, and their families cheering and crying with emotion when the medal was hung round their necks.
I never admitted it but I started to research their stories, and realised the pain, frustration and sheer guts that went into their moment of glory. Somehow it put things into perspective when I realised it hadn’t been easy for them either.
That was over three years ago.
I’m now clean, smart, sweet-smelling and with the aromas of the home cooked meal wafting from the oven. I admit I’m scared. The ring is hidden in the bouquet of roses that I walked down to the shops to buy. My leg is still gamy and I’m not out of the woods yet but I’m getting there.
Wish me luck that she says yes when I pop the question tonight. I know the cancer might only give her a few years, but I’m determined to make them the best of her life.
© Voinks August 2016