After the conference

As it turned out, The Computers and Writing conference really did what they could to allow me to get around with my very limited mobility. The kind people at St. John Fisher College found a golf cart and ferried me from building to building, so I got to the panels and the events, but the cart had room for more, and I wonder who was there that needed it but did not speak up? Why is this not a planned feature?  What will happen at the next conference? I find that I am not a fan of being an arthritis pioneer. The Findlay campus, the next Computers and Writing site, is pretty, with nice green space, which translates into at least one good slog to get from panel to panel. I did not send in a proposal.

Even though the conference-runners were gracious and found the cart, I felt awful about being the one who puts everyone else out. This was not planned, and people had other things to do, I’m sure, than to ferry a single gimp about. It was the equivalent of having a personal chauffeur, and I don’t think that is the way it should be. Still, I cant help but think that if this was a planned feature, there would be others who used it, maybe people who decided not to attend because getting around is so hard.

So, here is where I stand: I will not be attending any conferences until I either have surgery or they find a gel that my body doesn’t react badly to. Some days are fine, but others, like today are painful for walking from room to room in my own house. Translated to the typical college campus, having benches to “rest” on while walking between buildings is no help. It isn’t that I tire, it’s that I only have so many steps in me each day and when they’re gone, they’re gone. If I push and go over–and I have the energy to do so–I will pay for it the next day with severe pain and swelling, which is what is going on today. I had to go on campus yesterday, and the walk from parking and back on top pf what I had already done that day was too much. My Apple Watch noted (happily!) that I more than doubled my goal for the day from 160 calories burned to 360. I wondered then if I would be paying for that today, and yes, I am. Just think of what three to four days of that would do, even with a cart to remove the long stretches. I still had more than my limit within buildings, so I had to take a couple of week to get back to “normal.”

No conferences for me for a while. I know people are more than willing to help, but until that willingness translates into built-in help at the planning stage, being the exception isn’t working for me. I suspect there are others who need help too, but are silent.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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