Saturday, August 20, 2005

Wedding of the Century - Disability Lessons Learnt

As you all know, my role as a bridesmaid and indeed my very attendance at this wedding was a cause for much anxiety and needed a fair amount of engineering in order to pull off. From this experience I learnt a number of positive and negative lessons. First of all, on the downside…

  • The statement “The church is just over the road from the hotel.” could mean just that or it could mean that between the churchyard and hotel there is an extremely busy road and the church itself stands on a hill such that its base is approximately level with the rooftops of the three-storey hotel. Fortunately with Rosie’s planning (see below), this didn’t have too great an impact at all.
  • Just when you think they’ve got it… My folks’, especially my Dad’s gauge of what I am and am not able to do changes dramatically according to how convenient or not it is for me to be able to do something. Their room was significantly closer to the main event, but when suggesting a swap, Dad insisted there was “nothing to be gained really”. At one point he even suggested wheeling me down steps. “They’re ever-so shallow and it’ll be so much quicker than going the long way round!” Yeah, right.
  • People do seem to feel the need to exaggerate degrees of (other people’s) impairments. One chap present was described by his wife as being in agony. I think I have been in agony once or twice, when I have struggled to remain conscious, certainly unable to move let alone attend a wedding. The fact the guy was in significant pain was enough to provoke my sympathy. Another chap was described as blind. He was not blind – blind folks don’t bother putting magnifying glasses to written information. Again, the fact he was visually impaired was impairment enough – especially when he started flirting with my grandmother.
  • After all these years of pacing and management, I am really little better at it than ever I was. My alcohol-free policy slipped, I wound up leaning on an illicit extra painkiller dose or four.
On the more positive side…

  • Either Rosie had thoroughly briefed everybody present about my situation or else people are not nearly so easily fazed as I imagined. I did not follow Rosie down the aisle, I sat down throughout the hymns, for my reading and for all the photographs and nobody asked a question or made a comment about this. I didn’t even have a sense of getting questioning looks.
  • Rosie is a bloody good organiser. This manifest itself in every detail of the wedding, it was all perfect, but I was particularly grateful for the way it meant that my impairment was accommodated.
  • There are loads of crips about and people do understand. Maybe we are becoming more visible, I don’t know, but there seemed to be a fair proportion of disabled people present, even if they would not all self-identify as such.
  • Wearing a posh frock means that I get approximately twice as many comments about how lovely, pretty or beautiful I look than how well, healthy or better I look. Health-related compliments – for compliments they are supposed to be – are infuriating for a whole number of reasons, least of all that most of the time I know it’s nonsense; I do look ill. And why do hey say that? Is it supposed to make me feel better? The best health-related compliment I received was from my uncle, a GP, who said, “You don’t look nearly so drawn as you used it.” Nice.
  • I may have much to learn from unexpected places. One of my fellow bridesmaids has had a similar condition to my own for about a year now and has mastered a sort of power-napping method of pacing. Fatigue not being my biggest problem, it wouldn't be the be all and end all, but if I could train myself to catch forty-winks at will it would be bloody useful for my daily management.
  • My body produces some wonderfully useful chemicals. By the afternoon of the Wedding day (the event was scheduled for three and we got round to Rosie’s house late morning), I was exhausted and without my TENS machine, quite uncomfortable. During the car journey to the church I noticed my speech slurring. I was hungry and my bladder was doing its nervous trick of needing to evacuate but refusing absolutely to do so (I needed the loo at midday, I was unable to go until about five o’clock). Waiting in the church for the bride, whose horse-drawn carriage had got stuck in traffic, I was feeling cold and generally miserable. Rosie arrives, choir sings Lauda Jerusalem and suddenly I don’t mind at all. Every moment thereon in was an immense pleasure and my reading went just fine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Goldfish,

so glad to have you 'back' so to speak safe and sound.

I could relate to much of what you describe here of your experinces at the wedding. You may recall my recent family wedding. i was not in the bridal party but experinced a lot of challenges nonetheless. It was an 'eye opener' in many ways.

I felt that you have been able to draw a lot from your experinces at the wedding and wish that i was able to see the positive and all possibilities as I do seem to focus on the negative.

I lso had to shuckle about the 'just across the road' directions and placement of the church etc..I have had numerous situations of late where I am assured by folks who KNOW my levelo f difficulty with steps, inclines and general getting places, that I will be 'just fine as it is a stones' throw away!' only to find a trek such as you portrayed!

Thanks for sharing your experiences and I am so happy that you could enjoy your sister's wedding once the adrenaline or whatever had enabled you to get thru the pain somewhat.

take care