Readers who think I could be nicer have a point. I suppose it is possible to be too cranky. So in an effort to be not such a bad cripple I will write something nice. Over the last two years or so I have occasionally seen the name of a paralyzed woman Carolyn Pioro. Ms. Pioro was a circus performer and competitive athlete until she fell from a flying trapeze and experienced a spinal cord injury. She is a quadriplegic. When I read about Pioro, it was usually with reference to fashion. As someone with a body that is extremely crooked finding clothes that do not need tailoring is not easy. Hence I look at clothing websites that are designed for people with a disability. My search has not as yet resulted in any good finds. But I did come across Pioro's name who struck me as a smart woman. Ms. Piorio is an attractive and fashionable young woman who seems to have a great sense of style post injury. I know nothing about fashion though I suspect it is difficult for women to find fashionable wheelchair appropriate clothing Regardless, this is where my knowledge of Pioro began and ended until yesterday.
At Bloom, an interesting website about disability, had a short post about Pioro on May 27 (http://bloom-parentingkidswithdisabilities.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-have-to-let-go-of-my-past.html ). Ms. Pioro is giving a talk in Toronto June 6. The title of Pioro's talk is "I Have to Let Go of My Past". This notice led me to read an excellent essay by Pioro in Chatelaine (http://www.chatelaine.com/living/real-life-stories/carolyn-pioro-on-life-after-a-devastating-spinal-cord-accident/). Pioro gives a gripping account of her accident in 2005. What struck me was not the circumstances of her injury but her reaction to it. In a section entitled Enforced Isolation Pioro wrote after her injury:
I had very few visitors during my two months in intensive care. I kept it that way on purpose. I knew that I wasn’t going to beat this paralysis thing, that I just needed my condition as a quadriplegic to stabilize before I could move on to whatever was next. I allowed only my mom, dad, brother and soon-to-be-sister-in-law and two close friends from the restaurant I had been working at to come see me, and what they saw looked pretty grim.
Pioro went on to note she permitted only six visitors:
One morning I asked to put on a crisp white shirt that had little hooks and eyes and a skirt with a long double zipper. My attendant mumbled under her breath the entire time she helped me and afterwards asked, “What are you getting so dressed up for anyway? It’s not like you have a date.” Later, she filed a complaint stating that my clothing had too many hooks, clasps and time-consuming accessories. Staff members were afraid of straining or spraining their hands and wrists while assisting me. I’m not sure what made me feel worse: the dig about dating or the fact that someone whose role it was to act as my hands would carry out her job in such a hurtful way. I was left feeling crumpled. Being someone who loved fashion, I saw my life heading into an abyss of yoga pants, sweatshirts and Crocs.
For me, it’s not going to get better, but it will get easier. I’m still as reluctant to write... You see, when there’s just one thing and one thing only that you can do to make your mark in the world and create a career, it can be deadly scary. But I’ll continue working, editing and, yes, even writing. I will strive to make my voice as strong as my body once was.