03 July 2011

Being a little nuts never killed no one

I made the builder raise his eyebrow at me the other day, and then at the end of our talk I confirmed in his mind that I was a little nuts.

The builder? That's right.

Senbayashi shopping street
After almost a year of humming and hawing I have decided to stay in my adopted hometown of Osaka and in my own house. Osaka is a great place and if it weren't, I wouldn't have lived here for the past seventeen years. I live close to the Senbayashi area of Osaka and everything is at my fingertips. Want a drink, something to eat? It's there. Five minutes to the subway and fifteen minutes to the train. Even when it's raining I go through the covered shopping street (in the picture to the right) and don't even get wet.

About my house; why is it so great? The reason is simple, it's MY house and for a house in the middle of a crowded city, it's quite roomy inside and out. I have a relatively big driveway (and no car to jam it up) and even some space behind my house (which is rare). I grew tomatoes and peppers in this space and built stuff. I'd come home in the hot Osaka summer, go to the back, open a cold beer, watch my tomatoes grow, and sand wood for hours. The only problem with my house now is that it's a three story house with the bath on the third floor, so we had to consider what to do.

I had a few options after I got paralyzed. The first option was to sell this place (which I had built and only lived in for about a year and half before this happened to me) and build a two story house which is completely barrier free and accessible. It would have been like preparing for a life of paralysis, so I said NO!

The other option was to move back to my hometown of Woodstock, Ontario where land is cheap and build a nice bungalow which would also be totally accessible for a wheelchair user. As much as I would love to live back close to my family and friends, it would have again been preparation for life in the chair. Once I considered this, I decided that it was NOT an option.

So I made the choice to renovate my house, but just minimally. We decided to build in my special area in the back. There will be a bedroom (so I can get my bed out of site), a big toilet, and a shower area. This will make the first floor completely livable.

The other options which I discarded were what made the builder raise his eyebrow. We talked about building a cement ramp so I could use the front door (currently I have a wheelchair lift and use the sliding door off the front door). I asked the builder what I would do with a cement ramp once I walked again. The lift I can just give away, but what can I do with cement and as much as I can imagine myself walking and swinging a sledgehammer to smash the ramp into little pieces, it would be too much work.

We discussed a chair lift to the second floor at the cost of about $20,0000. Again, I asked the builder why I would want to prepare for a WHOLE life this in this chair. The other eyebrow raised.

So instead of discussing cement ramps and chair lifts my last question confirmed in the builder's mind that he was dealing with a crazy man. I interrupted his ramp and chair lift talk to ask the most important question. I asked him how hard it would be to take the roof off my new addition and build an open air bath in the future. He asked why and I told him that once I walk again I won't need the extra bedroom but an open air bath would be nice.

He left wondering what my chances were for walking again, and I think that instead of the regular thinking about NEVER WALKING AGAIN, he left with the idea that it was possible (but a little crazy).

Currently there are very few people around me that don't think I'm nuts. Two of them are my boys. They ask about the first thing we're going to do after I walk again. I tell them that we're going to carry every chair in the house to the third floor and we're going to drop them onto the cement driveway below, watch them smash, and laugh like madmen.

They don't raise their eyebrows or say that I'm crazy. They only ask one question. "Papà, how are we going to do our homework if there aren't any chairs?" 

I tell them, "You'll do it standing. I'll build you a desk with longer legs."


  1. I have the same attitude.
    If we start acting as if we will never walk again it is like giving up and so we will stop fighting our way out of hell.

  2. That's right. we don't give up and we don't accept the bullshit about the chair for all our lives. Resist! Organize!

  3. You guys have said it perfectly. You don't stop fighting. You resist and you organize.