I’d like to preface this little section by saying that I am not necessarily proud of what went on here, but it happened. I believe that a true story becomes somewhat fictional if it’s not told in its entirety. Oh and as a second little preface here, I must also say that I still had a fair bit of that idiot young bloke streak running through me, so some crazy shit was bound to happen. Quadriplegic or not, I was still one of the boys. Anyhow, I guess it was around this point that I began to realise that I would do things that (traditionally) people in my circumstance wouldn’t do. And things would happen to me that (I assume) that normally wouldn’t occur. For example, being the cheeky brat that I am, a number of the female Carers began to flash their boobs at me. One even brought in her brand new swimsuit to model for me, and another (who’d just had a baby) literally sprayed breast milk in my face – and straight from the boob. Now this was not normal. I guess my on-site friendship group relaxed the client to staff relationship a fait bit hey. But this bending of boundaries can be summed up perfectly by one instance; one day I was casually sitting in the lounge of my residence (around midday), and next thing I see one of my mates (who was also a Carer) was standing at the window absolutely blind drunk. And with a muffled slurred voice, I could just make out the words ‘I brrrought presentssss’. Obviously these were the branches and hubcap strewn across his torso, and well OMG the next hour or so unfolded very interestingly to say the least. Particularly seeing this bloke trying to keep it together while chatting to my super straight Christian housemate. Not to mention watching this drunken man also trying to do back-flips in the park next door. Only then finally the service manager caught wind of the commotion, and of all things he made him sleep it off in a spare bed in one of the other houses. I still can’t believe he didn’t lose his job.
So as you can see things could get a little crazy. Much of life ‘again’ revolved around boobs, beer and burnouts. So BOGAN. Oh yeah and I haven’t mentioned the burnouts yet, but quite often when mates would come to visit, when they’d be leaving they would drop a big fat line locker out the front. And yes this was in the middle of the day right out the front of a care facility. Again so bogan. But this is who I was to an extent, especially before I got sick, I thought it was my God given right to have fun and cause mischief. I was very immature. The strange thing though, this same lifestyle (from when I was younger) had magically transpired in my present day realities. Sick or not, mentally I was still yet to move beyond this completely. So, before I knew it I had let myself get sucked back into these old habits. Drinking heaps of beer (through my feeding tube), trying to talk Carers into taking me to the Casino in the middle of the night, then on regular occasions (drunk as) lying in bed at night trying not to throw up. And if I did throw up, shit I would have died for sure, my muscles were too weak to handle such an event. The Nurses reminded me of this constantly. Such a schmuck. And right or wrong, I’d always justify my boozing as grieving. Okay I admit it, I was a fucking idiot. I was suddenly on such a wild ride I even began to do things out of character. Like going to the strippers, something that I’ve always found quite degrading – for both men and women. But hey I was there. And while there, I thought I’d best get a lap dance because I’d never actually had one before. Look, I know this will sound a bit smutty but bear with me, Anyway, music starts, clothes start coming off, and then about thirty seconds later, I looked into ‘her’ eyes and I was like “O-M-G….I know you”. Holy. Shit. Where do you look. I had this bird shaking her junk all over me, and in my face, and all I could remember was working with her in the bottle shop some seven years earlier.
Shit hey, I can feel everyone judging me already, but truthfully I’d lost my path. The pressure that I was under was all coming out. I’ve never proclaimed to be perfect. Actually I know I’m far from perfect, still at least I can try to say it how it was. And how it really was, well this was a much needed disaster. A stress relief that was well overdue. So sure this wasn’t pretty already… but I assure you it gets worse. You see it was coming up to my birthday, so to celebrate I decided to organize a few boys to go to the horse races – for a few quiet drinks. I think there was five of us, three of my Carer mates, one of my old mates from back in the day, and me. Well… and I mean well… this ended up being nothing but being a drinking session. It was the night races and I think we only saw one race; the main backdrop was the bar. Or more specifically a quadriplegic sitting in front of the bar skulling who knows what down his feeding tube. Beers, bourbon, even several Sambuca shots. Shit-faceddd. Actually before long we were all shitfaced and terrorizing pretty much the whole racecourse. One of my mates even got fully stuck into this fat chick wearing hot pants; I couldn’t quite believe that. And another feel asleep at a poker machine holding a reserved sign. It was such a messy night. Thank God this was before the rise of video cameras in mobile phones. This night would have made for some pretty fucked up home video. And how did it all end, well it’s all a bit of a blur. I do remember a lot of commotion in the wheelchair taxi on the way home (with someone even opening the sliding door as we were driving along), and then [I remember] kinda thinking shit I hope nothing goes wrong with my health here, because not one of us would have been able to deal with absolutely anything.
This still sends shivers down my spine today. I’d not only lost my path but total control. And as far as my journey as a whole, I know people tend to talk about rock bottom a lot, well this may have been kinda mine. I was doing everything (particularly drinking) for the wrong reasons. I even remember getting told off by the service manager for smoking cigarettes out the front of my residence – as a Carer would have to hold the smoke up to my lips – not a good look. I even recall smoking dope in the ‘backyard’ countless times, and this was far from for medicinal purposes. Then considering I was on a breathing machine for more than half the day, like this was bloody crazy! But my worst effort of all, oh yeah it still gets worse, I was drunk as shit at a local club and this guy in a wheelchair kept staring at me. Like literally wouldn’t take his eyes off me, so bloody annoying. Anyhow he had one leg and I thought he might have lost it to diabetes or something, blah blah. Still the night went on, I got drunker and drunker, and this bloke kept bloody staring. Finally, I said ‘what’s your problem mate?’ He looked away and within a minute he continued to stare again. I thought bugger this, so I told my Carer to wheel me over to him, and well I started hurling full on freaking abuse. ‘You want a fight mate’ I said, while thrusting my head back and forth in an aggressive manner (as that’s all I could move). ‘What are you staring at, I’ll fucking bite you ya fuckhead!’ OMG what a scene. Two blokes in wheelchairs picking a fight with each other. My Carer said it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen, and yeah I’d probably go along with that, but I’d also say it’s one of the saddest.
You see beneath all of this debortury was a very angry man – as I was beginning to understand the full extent of my circumstance. My life had completely and utterly fallen apart; and I was trying to disguise this pain with fun. I can see how wrong this is now. But seriously I’d lost just about everything: movement, a home, friends; I even sold my pride and joy (my car) as it was beginning to rust away in my Dad’s garage. Plus, my brother had just moved to Cairns indefinitely, exactly what my heart craved to do so badly – gees that hurt. Then with my Dad, I finally got up the confidence to visit my Mum’s grave a couple more times, and that whole loss was really starting to kick me in the face too. Then even that simple act of going to the cemetery had its own complexity, as I obviously had to go with a Carer, so again basicallyI had no privacy. My life was always on parade. Or as I was told my Carer later, (re the cemetery thing) they wanted to be there for me as a friend but ended up walking away as a ‘worker’. Quite often I felt completely alone. Regularly I’d even think about how I’d fucked things up with my ex-girlfriend. That intimate support is what I felt like I needed at this time. I could see no positives. Oddly though, never once did I think about suicide, actually instead my thinking shifted again. A bit extraordinary I know. But I took the initiative to think and re-think what I wanted out of life and how best to get it. I needed a logical way to encompass what I desired – and also a way to keep me focussed and motivated – only I didn’t know what it was yet. I just knew I didn’t want to be this train wreck any longer.
So what was actually happening, in my depressive blur, I was moving more towards an ‘achievement focus’ not ‘participation focus’. Just being out there, in whatever state, wasn’t enough anymore. I was finding that many people thought that participation was enough for persons with a disability – so I wanted to show them (and most importantly myself) that it was all possible. I love proving people wrong. And this kinda became my mission. This is what I wanted out of life. Hence in my eyes all things were doable, it’s just that the level of commitment had changed significantly. And look I could rant on about this forever here, but I won’t, the last thing we need right now is another tangent. What I will say though (to try and wrap this whole episode up nicely), as a mate pointed out just recently, ‘remember that bad habits that make you happy are not all that bad after all, maybe it’s just living’.