Disabled time

13 May 2018

Time becomes faster when you can only go slow. I know this because I have experienced both: time goes slow (or a normal speed); and time goes fast.

I have taken pride in how fast I can negotiate a busy high street, ‘it’s about maintaining momentum’ I would tell myself, weaving in and out of the crowd, on my feet or a bike. Similarly, I used to crunch through words on a keyboard, not quite touch typing but not far off; just looking at the screen the words would appear as if by magic.

Time is now different.

Putting on socks takes five minutes (I have timed it), putting shoes on can take 10, getting fully dressed 30 minutes. Thinking time increases: you say to me, “let’s go out”or “can you get some milk” and I must be still to think about how to do it, and to quietly let my body know that soon, it will be required to move. Writing a report takes weeks instead of days as my one typing hand tiptoes across the keyboard, accurate but very slow.

Glances at the clock shows the hour hand’s rushing progress, not the minutes, which become irrelevant. I come back from being out at 11am and after undoing, changing, toileting, drink making, etc. I look at the clock again and it is 2pm. What! Where did that go?

It becomes noticeable when with somebody nondisabled, getting into a car, picking up a bag, getting your keys out and opening the door. There are two different time sets going on; a slow one for them and a fast one for you. You can feel their waiting like a glare looking at the piece of your body which is underperforming the most. They itch to help, to speed things up to near their speed. If you have been engaging equally doing something beforehand, like sitting at a table, drinking tea, and then the next bit requires a doing something, everything changes, from a can do to a can’t do, or I can do it but it’s going to take me forking ages to do it.

That’s one of the reasons I love being around disabled people, you are on the same time zone. You wait for them, they wait for you, both the same speed, the same ticking of the clock. Today, I bought some flowers to plant in my garden. The young plants came in plastic trays of six. I arranged everything I needed, it was a Sunday, it was nice weather, I was alone, it took a long long time, cutting, digging, transporting, all with one hand. But now they’re planted and they look nice.