Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Like a tortoise on his back 1

Spinning in circles, going no where.

On our first full day here in Vancouver we visited the Vancouver Aquarium (along the with all the other Vancouver families trying to escape the rain). We ran into this guy in the rain forest exhibit. He was really having a hard time trying to get up onto his feet, he was actually going in circles, digging one foot deeper and deeper into the ground. I found it hard to watch.

And then this happened. There is no picture. I’m not going to say how it happened, only that it did. It was me being knocked over backwards, on to my back. I smacked my head on the floor, pretty hard, but not enough to do anything other than a good lump. And make me cry.

It happened just as everyone was breaking for lunch, most of the other course participants were still in the room. The kerfuffle that resulted was almost more than I could take. People wanted to call security, offered ibuprofen, ice, to help me up, move my legs, move my chair away…

Ella sat with me. I had to speak with security who took my pulse, checked my pupils and wanted to call paramedics because of my “condition”. I told him under no circumstances was he to call paramedics. There was no blood or brains on the floor, I didn’t black out and I didn’t have a headache. Please just let me get my bearings, lay with the ice on my lump and I’ll ask for help to get up when I am ready. I can’t get off the floor by myself.

And I cried. I was mortified to be laying on the floor in the class with everyone there. I was that tortoise on my back. Afterwards, as I reflected on what had happened and talked to Theo on the phone, I realised that why I was so upset was because it reminded me of how vulnerable I was. And then Theo reminded me that it’s not that I am vulnerable, but that I can be vulnerable. Not the same thing.

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