Friday, February 8, 2013

But what about me?

I recently saw The Impossible, the powerful, harrowing and ultimately inspiring film directed by J.A Bayona about a family that survives the huge Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26, 2004 while on a Christmas vacation at a luxury beach resort in Thailand. Naomi Watts is up for the Best Actress Oscar for playing the mother.

There are horrific scenes of the mother and the oldest of the three young sons (breathtakingly played by...I forget who!) surfacing after the initial wave and thrashed about by seemingly endless subsequent waves and debris as they frantically try to swim toward each other and a place of safety. I couldn’t help but be struck by how much courage and gumption they had.

I also found thinking myself that I’d be out of luck, to say the very least, strapped as I am in my heavy wheelchair, even if I could swim.

I have the same thought every time I’m in an elevator and see the sign saying not to use the elevator in case of fire. How will I get downstairs and out of the burning building alive? Can I count on someone, perhaps a stranger, to carry me?

There was recently an article in the Los Angeles Times about an earthquake warning system, like the one that saved many lives in Japan, being developed here in California. People will theoretically be notified a few or perhaps more seconds before an earthquake. Would I be able to control my nervous spasms enough to maneuver my chair to a safe place, if not to open the door and get out (if I’m home, not in bed, alone), in time?

But, although I have gathered some emergency supplies, I often wonder if I want to survive “the Big One,” when all will be chaos, to say the least, and my attendants may not be able to come.


  1. I feel your concerns, especially as my parents and children so spread out. But you must realize that you're on my list as well? Friends will be there for you and your staff, rest assured.

  2. Since i am now almost unable to go down stairs, John, i've been riding down in elevators a lot more than before. Every time i get into a little box of a car on the >12th floor of a building and see that "Use Stairs" sign sprouting out of flames, i think of thee and, like thee, wonder: will anyone check to see if i made it when i collapse on the steps after crawling about 1.5 storeys?
    . On occasion i have taken it upon myself to ask building staff and business managers what i and those in chairs are supposed to do. Their responses are not comforting. One solution --to stay at home all the time, or at least on the street level-- is not satisfactory either. Otherwise i guess i'd like to survive the Big One just so that i could say, "I told you so,"to those who didn't believe it or get their emergency supplies together.