My small town has a truly amazing library for a city of its relatively small size. When I lived nearby for about eight years, I was in and out of here all the time. Sitting here this afternoon, killing time until a doctor appointment, I am struck at the parallel between the progression of my illness and the decreasing frequency that I have visited what was once a favorite place.
Today, I came in with my laptop and was playing scrabble against its all knowing electronic brain until a few moments ago. I am sitting on one of the 'comfy' chairs (for whose body?) near an electrical outlet. To get into the chair I parked my wheelchair sideways and slid onto the seat. Now, I have come to realize that I am not sure how I will get back into my chair. The seat cushion is only about 3" higher, but I am extra weak due to my recent flu bug (hopefully, if I'm not home tonight, someone who reads this blog will know where to find me).
The library is a constant reminder of things I can no longer do: reach above the third shelf for books or magazines making it darn near impossible to browse; open the three doors leading in to the building; pick up books without dropping them; or remember the dewey decimal number for the book I am searching for.
I have to head to my appointment soon; the library's bathroom isn't accessible because of a heavy oak door and I don't trust my bladder much longer. This is the first time I have been out on my own for weeks. With the challenges of accessibility to buildings and bathrooms, the mental fogs I can experience, and the waves of fatigue that strike without warning; I rarely leave home alone. Quite the reality for a 44 year old woman.
I used to pass this library on my way to and from work; I used to be able to open doors; I used to know my way around the bus system; I used to know how to navigate without thought. Now, I can become lost walking my dog in my neighborhood. And the result of all this change is, I rarely visit the library.