This weekend Ean, Adam, and I went to Delaware for a baseball tournament. I absolutely love watching Ean play baseball. He is more focused on the field than anywhere else in his life. I love watching him know where the ball goes when he fields it, and I love listening to him and Adam recap the game, discussing pitches and plays, defense and missed opportunities. I especially love watching him pitch. It wasn't always that way. When he was younger, and he was just starting out as a pitcher, I would find a tree to stand behind because I couldn't watch. It was so nerve-wracking! At eight or nine years old, so much is riding on the ability of the pitcher. Would he be be able to stand the pressure? Would the batter hit the ball back at him and hurt him? Sometimes, like any pitcher, he would mistakenly hit a batter. The expression on his face was always of concern, like he wanted to approach the kid and say "I am so sorry, are you okay?" But the baseball player in him would just stand there and watch. It was always like he was torn between doing the baseball thing and the human thing.
Now I don't hide behind the tree anymore. Ean is a much more proficient pitcher, and I am much more confident in his abilities. I am getting used to his rhythm, the way he pitches fast balls, and I can often tell when a slider or curve ball are coming. Those days that he pitches are the days that he talks the least after a game. Its like he is going over it all again in his head, and his modesty often prevents him from discussing his accomplishments.
I try to get to as many games as I can. This weekend was his last tournament of the season and we got lucky because the weather was sunny and very tolerable. Adam and I wrapped up in our team sweatshirts and I put a blanket in my lap, and we were good to go. I recognize having me go to Ean's games are a lot of work for Adam. He has to look out for me as well as himself and Ean. We always have to make sure there is a path for him to push the wheelchair, make sure I can see the field yet stay away from possible foul balls, and make sure there is a bathroom I can get in and out of.
Let's talk about bathrooms for a minute. Not all handicapped stalls are created equal. When I am out and about I need to be able to get into the bathroom by myself. This is not always easy. The doors to the actual bathroom are often very heavy. Sometimes I can push the door open with my wheelchair, but more often than not I need someone to open the door for me. When I get into the bathroom, I need access to the handicapped stall. When you put the garbage can on the outside of the handicapped stall and I can't get the door open enough to get my wheelchair in, then the stall is not handicapped accessible.
So I get into the stall. In the best of handicapped stalls I find that a wise person has put a handle on the inside of the door at wheelchair height. That way once I get my wheelchair in I can pull the door closed independently. If there is no handle, I am often fighting with the door to close it. I move forward in my wheelchair to pull the bottom of the door, and my wheelchair pushes the door open. I back up and I can't reach the door.
Okay, so the door is finally closed and locked. If there are no grab bars to help me get up and get on and off the toilet, the stall is not handicapped accessible. I have to say that most of the bathrooms I have been in have good bars (grab bars, not those for drinking, though that might be an interesting addition, though maybe that should be another blog post). This weekend the handicapped stall at the baseball field sucked. Yup, it was awful. No grab bars and there was this funky ledge in the doorway of the bathroom that made it impossible for me to get in and out of the bathroom myself. Adam had to get me in and out (sorry ladies). And I used the toilet paper dispenser as a grab bar. Didn't break it though, but I got close a few times.
With all of this discussion about handicapped accessible bathrooms, I must say that women rock! There has never been a time I have been in a public bathroom where a woman hasn't offered to help me. Okay, I admit when I first started going into the bathroom in my wheelchair, I was a little freaked out by strangers asking me if I needed help in the bathroom. But now it has become the norm, and is much appreciated. Women have closed the stall door for me, helped me reach paper towel, and opened and closed the bathroom door. On Sunday, the woman at the Wawa even asked if I wanted her to stay in the bathroom until I was done so she could help me get out. I didn't need her help, but how thoughtful is that! The women that have helped me have been of all ages, some with disabilities of their own, and all different ethnicities. I especially like when an adult who has a child with them helps me. It is a huge lesson to teach a child that it is okay to reach out and help another, even if you don't know them.
I never really thought I would have to be so focused on bathrooms after my colon surgery. I kind of thought that once my colitis was gone I would be free of that. Not so much. Its okay. It helps me to see something from and with a different perspective.
I am not sure how this blog post went from Ean's baseball games to handicapped bathroom stalls. But it did. Such is my life.