Paul Bloof jumped off a ten foot wall on Paddy’s day and has been crippled ever since. Here he shares some insights into his new way of living.
For years I’ve worked in fine dining and catering where efficiency and speed of movement are essential skills. You learn to run through crowds without touching anybody, you can see things fall and catch them in your peripheral vision and if youre good, your body moves before and without you thinking. There is no time for deliberation or doubt because you always have to be killing an ever-increasing list of short term tasks and priorities. Otherwise you go under. Like all work, there are some skills and thought processes that flow out of the workplace and actually improve your daily life – cooking, cleaning, salesmen and dawdlers can be dealt with a ninja-like deftness that leaves your tunneling mind time to focus on more rewarding problems. That was January. Today I woke up and missed a phone call ‘coz I couldn’t reach it.. Took me 5 minuets of gorilla-swinging to get to sitting upright on my chair. I really gotta pee. Rather than reverse I get into a 15-point turn between my bed and my sink. I’m knackered already! The bedroom door opens inwards and when I get through that my knuckles scrape on the door frame. GRRR! 5-point turn 90 degrees into the toilet but I can’t close the door behind me. FRRG! – You know that Olympic event on the wooden pommel horse where they spin around keeping their legs together? -yeah? Well this jaxx is too small for that. . I still havn’t worked out how to get my pants down without standing up so I just wiggle around till I can finally pee… Ireland, no points. I should have pee’d in a jar. So I’ve never been in a wheelchair before. Much as I try to coax the living craic out of every little thing I do .. wheelchairs are balls ! I can’t put my feet on the ground so it’s like I’m paralysed from the knees down. Impossible to get into. Impossible to get out of. Instant respect & empathy to anyone who’s full timing in one of these !! I’m like a gorrilla swinging around the place at home balancing on my knuckles, grunting, throwing my own dead weight up on the bed and trying to knock stuff off the top shelf with tennis balls – most of the time it easier to piss in a jar than scale the toilet assault course. The first expedition on wheels was downstairs to the shop on the first floor of the hospital during visitors hours – bit messy really. I instantly got stuck behind a double doors and had to wait all-casual-like till someone came along to help. Then I rolled into a crowded lift and couldn’t turn around so i just stared into peoples belly buttons while they all looked at the top of my head. Fart now! Come onnnn! …Down the hall towards the shop .. hey.. everyone is looking at me funny! …Not only that but they’re all slightly leaning forward while they do it. It must be the beard….. They think I’m a Viet Nam vet yeah? Brilliant. The penny dropped on how the next few months were going to be as the shop keeper spoke exxttraaa Louuud aannndd Slowwwwwly for my suddenly deaf and cripple ass.