We appeared to be a motley crew at first; two middle aged moms, a young girl, a teenage boy, and an older gentleman. And yet we’d all had our lives changed by some of the same people.
Aidan and I were in the waiting room at the orthotist’s office anticipating new foot braces and a lift to eliminate his leg length discrepency. In walked a young girl with a tiny walker and pretty pink glasses. She and Aidan sized each other up. Aidan was certainly familiar with her walker, having one of his own yet much taller. He gave her a big smile. The girl’s mom jumped right in with introductions. She spoke directly to Aidan, asking how old he was. She encouraged her daughter to tell him her name.
I’ve received several encouraging emails recently relaying to me that people feel more comfortable interacting with people with disabilities after having read my blog and knowing that “hello” is usually the best place to start. This is why I write. With the flow of conversation in that waiting room, I understood the seeming awkwardness is easy for us because we’re in it, surrounded by the need to direct and facilitate conversations all the time. It was nice to have it feel so natural.
This sweet girl received her new glass slipper, just like a princess. No strange, medical apparatus in her mind. Just a very special shoe that makes her a very special girl. I so want her to remember that different can be wonderful and every special girl can be a princess if they want to.
The mom and I started talking about our medical teams. She prefaced by saying she has the best team ever and when she named exactly the same people on our team, I knew she was right.
Yes, this one taught Aidan how to walk; one foot in front of the other for months training his brain that this is how you do it. She changed our lives.
Yes, this one gave Aidan independent mobility by promoting his powerchair driving. She changed our lives.
And yes, this one we trusted with difficult surgical decisions, and he gave my son a new body. He changed our lives.
Into the room walked an older gentleman with one leg and a walker, just like the princess’ and Aidan’s. Aidan stared. The little girl asked her mom why he has one leg. She didn’t skip a beat. “I don’t know. Would you like to ask him?”
The gentleman sat down and told us his story. He was at the orthotist today to receive his new prosthetic leg. I’m not sure Aidan and the princess knew what to make of it all but they certainly appeared willing to receive this important information.
The UPS man walked into this small office and patiently maveuvered his way through all of our wonky selves, marking this exceptional moment as typical in our world. We all went our separate ways.
Aidan and I headed into our appointment. What has always been somewhat routine now felt so important. Our orthotist has used the perfect balance of science and art for years to help Aidan become who he is. Aidan is a walker. He needs these braces to walk. My boy walks. He drives too. It’s all quite amazing.
As we finally left the office, I glanced at the closed door, the one I knew had the parallel bars in it. I noticed the other orthotist enter with a prosthetic leg. I’m sure there was a healthy amount of anxiety and excitement in that room. Quite possibly there was pain or discomfort as well. But I had goosebumps knowing what was happening. In the course of my very mundane day, a life was being changed.
A princess, a teenage boy and a man with one leg walk into an office…..as they have so many times before….and bit by bit, then all of a sudden, their lives are changed.