And How Was Your Morning?

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Nathasha Alvarez

Nathasha Alvarez

Sometimes I feel like screaming “Shut Up!” at the world in my loudest, most annoying voice!

My tolerance level for these whiners has reached its limits. Complaining about how tired they are racing to pay the bills run to do these ambiguous errands after work and having to attend these tiresome family events on the weekends can take its toll on my ears.

If they think they have it bad they might want to trade places with me or anyone else with a physical disability trying to do what they are doing in a wheelchair, scooter, walker, cane or crutches.

Recently, I almost let a group of people have it. I had lost it! I was having what some people with physical disabilities call a “Crip Day”. Everything was going wrong and it had everything to do with my physical disability.

So after hearing these people cry about their pitiful lives, I smiled, nodded in agreement and then said, “Yeah, I know what you mean. Now try to do all of that in a wheelchair if you really want to have some fun!” and left the room. I couldn’t take it anymore.

I don’t like too use the word “Crip” or “cripple” but sometimes it’s necessary.

“Crip Day”

From the moment I woke up I should have stayed home! The minute my eyes opened in the morning the race was on. I woke up coughing my head off due to some breathing issues that doctors claim have no solutions other than taking medication that would probably give me side effects that would make me feel sicker than if I didn’t take it.

“Crip Day”

Unfortunately, my lovable dog, Scrappy feels that the minute I wake up he has to be the first one to go to the bathroom.

Therefore, I jumped in the wheelchair, maneuvered around Scrappy whose tail whacked me at least three times as I headed to the kitchen to place his collar and leash. The minute I opened the door, Scrappy wanted to sprinkle the outdoor hallway. I barely had time to pop a wheelie over the one inch high threshold. I raced to the closest patch of grass so that he didn’t leave a wet surprise for our three neighbors.

If you notice I never mentioned putting on a robe or slippers. That’s because I had no time for that. I never do. At 5:45 in the morning, wearing a t shirt with temperatures in the low 70s, and my long curly hair in every direction but down, I strolled with my happy Dalmatian around the apartment building to a large common ground of grass, smiling and waving at strangers who have now seen me in ways that I wouldn’t want to see them.

After Scrappy did his business, I raced back home and turned on the computer so that I could hear my music while I made lunch which consisted of a sandwich and everything else I could reach and stuff into a plastic bag in under five minutes.

“Crip Day”

The kitchen is not very accessible. I can’t reach the cabinets. For all I know, I might have a pot of gold or missing limbs withering away in there. Since I rent I can’t make any permanent modifications, I try to put as many items into the refrigerator. I think I might have the coldest cereal and peanut butter in all of Miami.

I hung the lunch on the doorknob with Scrappy closer to me than my own shadow.

I grabbed my towel, went into the bathroom, closed the door behind me and scratched the wall with my wheels. Despite my small wheelchair frame, the bathroom is not spacious enough to accommodate my wheelchair. Every now and then, I leave marks on the walls. A small headache started forming in the back of my head as I realized that soon I would have to spend an afternoon painting over these marks so that my home resembled a non-wheelchair home.

“Crip Day”

My bathroom is my little gymnastics center. I do most of my dangerous moves in there. If this were an event in the Paralympics I would proudly take the gold medal. I hopped from the wheelchair to the toilet then from the toilet to the bathtub in one swoop. It takes coordination, concentration and strength to do this so please don’t try this at home unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences of one wrong move.

There is a six to eight inch gap between the tub and toilet. While sitting on the toilet in all my glory, I have one hand on the edge of the tub and the other on the toilet seat. My legs can luckily swing from the toilet to the inside of the tub where I balance myself on the edge while I turn on the water.

I don’t wait until I am seated in the tub because I might get a shock of cold water which will start my coughing attack. My feet can barely touch the bottom of the tub, I reach over to turn on the water, touch it and make the proper adjustments to get that ooh ahh feeling. Once that has been accomplished, I literally slide into the tub.

Ladies and gentlemen, those rubbery sticky things that people purchase so that they don’t slip in the tub is a joke. I slip every morning! Of course, by now, I have it down to a science so it isn’t much of a big deal anymore. However, on this particular morning, my right arm didn’t want to cooperate so I landed with a little thump. No time to moan and groan!

Some people have suggested a shower chair. I think that would be even more dangerous because I have yet to find a shower chair that has stability, won’t let the water run outside of the tub and is aesthetically pleasing. If you know of one, let me know because I am sure that one day I will need it. For now, I am content using my own bathroom gym.

I have a handheld shower head which is more inconvenient than not, so I use the tub faucet. Being short has its privileges. Shampooed, body and face washed, and hair conditioned all completed, I resorted to doing the same maneuvers that got me into the tub to get me out of the tub with one enormous difference. The tub is wet and my movements are in reverse!

I don’t have time to wait until the tub dries. Carefully, I sit on the edge of the tub, reach for the towel on the wheelchair’s footrests and wrap it around me. I have this huge fear that I am going to slip and fall and a gorgeous Italian fireman named Anthony will find me without a towel. Hey, it can happen!

“Crip Day”

My bathroom has one of those wall mirror cabinets that are good for nothing. I don’t know why people even bother placing these cabinets. I can’t reach them and they can barely hold anything. There is a small closet next to the sink where I keep my secret beauty supplies.

A few years ago, I went to The Container Store to get organized but that’s a whole other story. I left with four plastic baskets that stack on top of each other. I use that to store my goodies. There is no watch or clock but I know that I must hurry. I reached for the brush and it fell. I have to get out of the bathroom where Scrappy was waiting for me to find the Reacher.

Anyone living with a wheelchair knows the REACHER. It is the tool that makes life easier for us. The bad part is that I can never find it when I need it. I think the Reacher should come to us when we clap for it like a broom does for Harry Potter.

I scrambled all over the apartment searching for it. I found it in the closet where I last used it to get a shoe that fell the day before. Rushed back to pick up the brush, combed my hair, brushed my teeth with Close Up because the other toothpastes make me gag.

If brushing our teeth is good for us then how come I feel like barfing after every brush? Rinsed my mouth with the new Crest mouthwash instead of the alcohol mouthwashes because that stings my mouth and makes my eyes water.

Who knew trying to look good and smell good could be so painful?

“Crip Day”

I was about to put on my make up when I noticed that my eyebrows were not even. Can’t leave the house looking like that! Searched for the Tweezerman and started giving myself some more excruciating pain in the name of beauty.

All this action and it is barely seven in the morning. I entered my walk in closet to find attire that was professional and respectful looking. Once I realized that I didn’t have anything like that I grabbed a pair of slacks and a blouse. My slacks were too long. Hey! I am short and you don’t see too many kids wearing professional and respectful looking slacks to school.

The phone rang. It was my brother. He needed money to go to school and was stopping by to pick it up. The driver will be here at 7:15! I wasn’t dressed, my hair was not done, Scrappy needed water, and now my brother was coming over. I now had an attitude!

I wore my too long white pants with my favorite black shoes that scream “attitude” and a white sweater that I bought at Bloomingdale’s after seeing Diane Keaton with one in the movie, “Something’s Gotta Give”.

The phone rang. It was my brother at the gate. I buzzed him in. Raced to my purse, grabbed a $20 from my wallet, and gave it to him at the door. He looked at my hair and asked me if I was going to work like that. Of course not! He smiled, said good and patted me on the head! Little brothers!

I had five minutes until the STS driver showed up.

“Crip Day”

I did my hair, opened the blinds to let the sunshine in, gave Scrappy water, fed the fish and the cockatiel, put on my perfume du jour and waited for my driver to call so I could buzz him in.

It was now 7:20 and although I had to wait another 20 minutes before I was supposed to ask the whereabouts of my driver, something didn’t feel right. I called the company and I was told that I was scheduled for a 10:30 in the morning pick up!

How was I going to get to work? I had a parent teacher conference at 8:00 am.

The dispatcher found my usual morning driver and directed him to pick me up and take me to work. Thank goodness! He was five minutes away!


I could hear my family and friends whispering in my ear that I needed to buy my own vehicle.

The driver showed up and we were off!

How was your morning?

Want to know what happened when I got to work? Come back next week to hear the saga of my life!