The list of things that I like to do has always been both long and diverse. Here are a few examples. Empower people and help others feel good about themselves. Watch movies. Challenge negative perceptions. Advocate. Cook. Go for strolls on the bike trail. Snuggle with my service dog. Talk to my friends. Write about what is on my mind. Read. And the list goes on…Another item could be easily added to that list to make it more complete. I like to say funny things that only I can get away with.
My disability presents many challenges. It probably always will. That is just a fact. Some I deal with only once in awhile, and others come up with more of a consistent basis. Many posts on this blog have described my joys and frustrations with depending on caregivers, day in and day out, with almost every aspect of my life.
Through trial and error, I have discovered one of the best ways to ensure that both a caregiver and I will have a successful working relationship is to make efforts to get them as comfortable as I can. That can be accomplished most easily through humor.
The Christmas before last, I was in the parking lot of my local Target, hoping to finish some last minute shopping with my caregiver, Dan. Leah, my service dog, was along for the ride. We had just pulled into the accessible spot when his car died, completely. It was dead meat, and from what I could tell, it wasn’t going to be resurrected any time soon without a major overhaul. So Dan did exactly what I would have done in that situation. He called his parents. And they graciously agreed to bring him another car. Crisis averted.
After Dan got the keys and we were headed back into the store, he casually said “I’m glad that worked out. Otherwise, we would have had to walk home.”
Without skipping a beat, I responded. “And that would have been a problem because, you know, I can’t walk…”
I don’t know if my comment simply caught him off guard in the moment, or if he never expected me to say anything like that, but in the middle of the entry way in Target, Dan basically fell to his knees with laughter. It was nothing short of awesome.
A few weeks ago, I wanted to make tacos for dinner. Because I am trying to eat a whole lot healthier these days than I used to, I was using cauliflower instead of hamburger. (Trust me, steamed in a pan with taco seasoning mixed in, it’s delicious, but I digress…) I had checked my refrigerator to see what I had on hand in the way of toppings and things all looked good, but a quick check of the shelves in the kitchen told me I needed taco shells. A new caregiver, Kaitlin, offered to go to the store and get some for me.
“What kind do you want?” She asked as she was getting ready to leave. “The regular ones or the ones with the flat bottom?” My limited finger dexterity doesn’t do well with regular taco shells. They break far too easily. It’s a mess.
(I could have gotten the ones that fall over easily…I do that sometimes. I call them “solidarity tacos,” but on that particular day, I was feeling a little selfish…)
“The ones with the flat bottoms,” I said confidently. “I need taco shells that stand better than I do…”
For literally about five minutes she laughed so hard that I was concerned that she might not be getting enough oxygen…
Why do I say those kinds of things to my caregivers as much as I possibly can? Because I want them to know that I laugh at myself; that I don’t see my disability as something horrible or tragic. I want my caregivers to relax around me so that they can relate to me as a person, and not simply “a woman in a wheelchair.”
I hate the kind of distance that exists between people who have disabilities and those without disabilities, so often times I do my best to use humor in order to close the gap. It’s one of the ways I show people that I am comfortable with my disability, so it is okay for them to be comfortable as well.
Does it work? Most of the time. Most of the caregivers who look like they have to go to the bathroom instead of laughing at that kind of stuff are probably best suited for employment elsewhere. And to be honest, whether a caregiver laughs or not is one of the ways that I can tell if that caregiver has what it takes to make it in this job long term.
Besides, I love getting away with stuff that hardly anyone else can.
It’s a kick. Get it? 🙂
I don’t usually share recipes I make because most of my recipes come out of my head. However, I have had several people ask me for my cauliflower taco recipe after they have read this post. This recipe is one of my favorites so here it goes…
My Very Casual Cauliflower Taco Recipe
Take one head of cauliflower and chop it fine, to the consistency of hamburger. (or put it in the food processor) Then put it in a skillet with about two tablespoons of water. A little more water may be necessary every few minutes. No oil. Let it steam. After about five minutes mix in about half a packet of taco seasoning (more if you like it extra spicy) Let that heat through another five minutes or so.
Fill the taco shells with some of the cauliflower mixture and then top with your favorite toppings for tacos. Enjoy!