I've been working in the Disability Sector since I arrived in India in March 2009. I've conducted numerous workshops throughout India, doing my best to build individual and organaisational capacities. Although, I've met numerous people who are living with disabilities and working in this Sector I have only recently started to feel what it might be like to be living with a disability.
On September 10, I went to bed with no problems after a typically hectic week. Before I fell asleep, I thought about playing and coaching b-ball on Saturday. I awoke during the early morning of September 11, and I could hardly get from my bed to my bathroom, about 5 steps. My legs, feet and part of my back were in total pain and I felt as if all of my former basketball injuries had somehow decided to hit me at the same time. I had no appetite and my head was spinning. I called Dr Hazuria and he recommended a blood test. Fortunately I live with a family that has adopted me and they gave me food and took me for what turned out to be three blood tests over the course of one week. They also brought me to see Dr. H. As it turned out I did not have malaria or dengue but some type of viral infection. However, two weeks later I still am having pain in my feet and right thumb.
I missed six days of work, which is totally unheard of for me and basically laid around from September 11-20.
As I try to search out the positive, the lessons, I've found that I can't resist what is happening in my body and need to just go with it, but more importantly I've developed an appreciation for what it might be like not to be able to walk, be in constant pain and having to depend on others. I realize that it takes quite a bit of courage and persistence to get around Delhi if one has trouble walking. As I've gone back to work, I've changed my regimen a bit, not walking as much, but still taking the bus and metro. Just getting on the buses is so very difficult, due to the steps being very high and the drivers typically not waiting for people to board. Getting to the metro platform can also be quite difficult, although there are some lifts.
The major point is that although I hope to get back to basketball, normal walking for me and moving around without any pain, I now have more empathy for those living with disabilities. I don't think that it is easy for anyone to live in Delhi, but add to that, having crutches or being in a wheelchair and it must be overwhelming. There are very few barrier free anythings. I'm glad to be able to do my small piece in the Disability Sector and can now say this with some further understanding of the population that I'm working with.