Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wheelchair Near Death Experience #2 - Why Can't Earth Be Flat!?!


How's life everyone? Well once again, this is about a time when mine was almost over. Now this isn't necessarily the second time in chronological order that I've had such an incident, but it's the second one I'm sharing here. Also, if you haven't read my first such story, found here, while I might not have exactly been in fear of imminent death, the shit was pretty damn scary each time it happened to me.

So my near death experience. This particular instance actually happened only a few months ago. To give you a little background, I have to explain to you how the streets around my house are structured. I essentially live at the bottom of a "U" shaped street. What this means is I have to go uphill whenever I leave the house, and then downhill whenever I'm coming home. Also, once I'm at the top of either side of my street, I then have to travel down a huge hill in either direction to get to the main street in my neighborhood, which is where all the main transportation forms travel, and where all the restaurants and other neighborhood attractions are located. So I really mean it if I ever tell someone "I have to go uphill both ways." Well now that you have an idea of what I have to traverse every single day, and just based on the fact that I'm born and raised in the hilly city of Seattle, you could say that I'm more than comfortable of handling hills. And that includes rain soaked hills. But this time, I met my match with the very hill I've sped down literally over a thousand times before. Why couldn't the earth just be flat like all those poor bastards thought back in the day?!?

On the day that this happened, I was planning on meeting a group of my coworkers at a restaurant on the main road. It had been raining all day, but when I was leaving the house, it hadn't rained for about 20 minutes. After I rolled up the short hill that I live on, I approached the top of one of those huge hills I mentioned earlier. Now as I stated, I've gone down this hill tons of time, but it definitely looks intimidating at the very top. On this particular hill, I travel down the middle of the street. If you're unfamiliar with "Wheelchair Driving 101," I made that up but feel free to use it free of charge, on a lot of streets, the sidewalks can be so bad and unpredictable, it makes more sense, and is just all around safer, to use the street. This can be even more important when traveling up or downhill, since it's not always safe or practical to reverse course or travel laterally. Once you get started, you want to keep going until you get to the top or bottom, and the street, minus potholes of course, gives you way more real estate with which to work. So as I was saying, I got to the top of the hill and started down. Now my wheels weren't very new, so their traction had seen better days, but at first, everything went as usual.  The street was a little wet, but not too bad. After I travelled about 30 feet however, that's when shit started to get real.  I had drifted to the side of the road to avoid any cars that may come or go, but because of that I had drifted into a stream of run off water. When I realized this, while I already was traveling pretty slow, I pulled back in attempt to slow down even further. But that shit didn't work. It actually did the complete opposite. My chair kept speeding up, and I had only traveled about 10% of the full down slope. Sliding through the slick water, I knew my only option was to drive into the grass on the side. Otherwise I most likely would die at the bottom of the hill traveling in excess of 50MPH. I probably wouldn't actually reach those speeds, but you get my drift. On the side I was driving, there was no curb separating the street from the sidewalk. There was a little slope to the grass, but it was something my chair could handle easily. So I steered my chair towards the grass, and I was sure it would work. Wrong again! I hit the slope, and my chair went all the way forward! Like I almost hit my face on the pavement. ONE. OF. THE. SCARIEST. MOMENTS. EVER. Even worse, the chair was still sliding down the hill when this happened. But thank God for seat belts! Also, thank God for having a rear-heavy chair with metal footrests. For the next 10-15 seconds, or what seemed like an eternity at the time, my chair constantly tilted all the way forward, only to tip back up from the footrests and the weight on the back. All the while, it was slowing down, but it continued sliding down the hill. Back and forth. Back and forth. It was a horrible feeling. I wouldn't go so far as to say my life flashed before my eyes, but I just knew I was going to bite the dust. The whole time, I was hoping that my seatbelt would hold, or that my chair wouldn't ultimately flip over. Once the teetering came to a halt, I was leaning all the way forward, the chair only being supported by it's footrests, and I wasn't able to reach the controller. Here I was stuck, on the side of a road I've traveled tons of times, probably only about 1 block from my front door. Horrible. But I was definitely alive and unscathed. After realizing that, and realizing that I was immobile, I did what any person should do in the same situation. I started yelling my ass off for help. Yeah that's right. And damnit I'd do it again. Hell, you would too. After a few seconds, a cab actually passed and came to a stop about 20 feet away. I assumed the driver saw me and was going to help, so I stopped yelling. It sat there for a few seconds, and then you know what? The bastard drove off! "What the fuck" is exactly what I was thinking and I'm sure it's what you're thinking too. Man I wish I would've had the presence of mind to get that license plate number. So since that ship had sailed, I got back to my yell fest. Luckily for me, occupants of the nearest home across the street heard me. The couple scrambled towards me and pulled both myself and the chair back to our upright positions. They then asked me if I was OK a bunch of times, to which I assured them I was, and instead of continuing down the hill, I took my ass back home. I just did that to regain my bearings, and then soon after, I took an alternate, albeit extremely round-about but also safer and not as steep, route down to the restaurant to meet me coworkers. The day went on, and I told my coworkers all about why I was late and why I instantly knew I wanted to order a mammoth margarita.

So there you have it. I almost died basically on the same street I live on. That would've been embarrassing. But since I didn't die, I'm able to give you guys this awesome story at my expense. But then again, would I have it any other way? Cripple Please!
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4 comments

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