Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Museum Walking is Brutal

Even for the most physically fit people, there is something about the slow, ambling pace of museum waking that is brutal. It exhausts everyone. So what hope does a totally exhausted girl with RA, who is already wearing two knee braces, have of actually enjoying the art instead of desperately looking for somewhere to sit down for a while?

I'll tell you: a wheelchair. 

When we were on our honeymoon, I was about ready to cry after just an hour of walking around in the Reina Sofia Museum. My knees hurt so bad (probably from being cramped on the plane for so many hours) and I was so tired (probably from all the wedding excitement and from being cramped on the plane for so many hours) that I wasn't even seeing the amazing Picasso paintings on the wall anymore. All I could see were the benches and how big the room was, which would give me an idea of how long I would have to rest before APL was ready to move to the next room. I wasn't enjoying myself. 

However, I didn't relish the thought of a being pushed around in a wheelchair either. I kept watching little old grannies hobbling around the galleries and thinking that it would be shameful for me to get in a wheelchair if even the grandmas didn't need one. 

But at some point the opposite thought crossed my mind: if I wrecked my legs on the first day of the honeymoon out of embarrassment and stubbornness I would miss out on so much more of the trip.  And, yes, the grandmas may be walking around, but their knee joints aren't my knee joints. And when would I be back in Madrid to actually enjoy all the art we were supposed to be enjoying? Maybe never. So, after lunch, I asked APL if he would push me in a wheelchair.

This might sound silly, but I feel like it took guts to sit in that wheelchair. But I'm really, really glad I did.  Being in the wheelchair was so much better. Yes, people did stare at me (and I'm sure tried to guess what was wrong with me) but, when I was looking at the art, I didn't even see their stares. In fact, I probably enjoyed the art more than anyone else that afternoon - I was so appreciative not to be in pain!! APL and I also had a lot of fun watching people get out of our way and zooming down ramps. And, with APL pushing me, we also spent a lot more time together talking and discussing the art (whereas before APL had been looking at the art and I had been sitting on the nearest bench and we hadn't been talking at all).

Most museums will let you borrow a wheelchair for free - generally at the information desk or coat check area. They will probably ask you to sign a paper saying you borrowed a wheelchair, but they won't ask you why you need it. Other people at the museum will stare at you, but it's really none of their business. If you know you would enjoy the museum more sitting down and you have someone who is willing to push you, just do it. It will be worth it - it might even be fun.

And afterwards, don't forget to thank your manservant....I mean husband! ~;o)


A said...

You're amazing! I love thinking of you literally getting a different perspective on the paintings from your throne (let's call it a throne, shall we?).

I also loved the vision of you and APL getting to spend more time together. You're a wonderful team, something that you never need to prove and yet show time and time again.

A said...

PS-- When I worked at the bakery, I stood for 4-7 hours a day on tile floors; they had mats in the back but none up front. I'd come home, at first, exhausted and sore. As time went on, I built up stamina, but was still sore in my knees from the flooring.

I get that musuems like to keep it clean and neat, but tile EVERYWHERE is a recipe for aches and pains from backs to hips to knees. If that's how it is for the average bear, I can imagine that the wheelchair was more than necessary!

~Mariah~ said...

A: ~;o)

Deb aka AbcsOfra said...

I love museums to and it took me a long time to cave in a use a wheelchair. My first, I have to or I won't be able to continue was when I was working off one of my items on my "bucket list"...to go to Disney World. I used my chair every single day I was there and I was SOOO glad I did. There you have to pay to rent it daily or weekly but to me it was well worth the money. I have no doubt that at some point I will need one more and more but for now I use one on trips, museums (like you), and any place I want to go but wouldn't be able to do it without one. Have you driven the ones in the shopping stores yet?

Sarah Z said...

good job yiah yiah! you are so brave!

~Mariah~ said...

DEB: I haven't been to an amusement park since getting diagnosed, but now that I think about it they must be pretty brutal too - all that walking and standing in line...seems like it would totally be worth it to have some help.

SARAH Z: Thanks. ~;o) Though I am obviously not completely brave - you didn't see that picture of me in the wheelchair in my Facebook album, did you? ~;o(

Melissa said...

I must admit, I've been too stubborn to get a wheelchair before and just walked through the knee & hip pain. But you're right, I just ended up in excruciating pain for days afterwards. Not really worth it.

~Mariah~ said...

MELISSA: I'm not going to lie - it wasn't easy to convince myself to do it either. But I promise once you do it isn't that bad. One thing that helped me get over the mental hurdle of doing it was that I was wearing a short sundress and my knee braces were totally visible when I sat down. Somehow it helped to know that people could look at me in the wheelchair and go "oh, she hurt her knee" instead of seeing what looked like a "healthy" person and wondering what my problem was.

A said...

Dear Blog,

I miss you.