partner’s perspective: wife has super hero powers

My wife has super hero powers. Before breast cancer came along, she was very active. working 14-hour days and teaching dance classes. But she didn’t develop super hero powers until she got cancer. What power does she have? It’s not super human strength or x-ray vision, even though sometimes she can see through me—and it’s not that she can fly or read minds—though, of course, she expects me to read hers.

She has the power of invisibility.

All she has to do is get into a wheelchair, and she disappears. The chair has so much power that even I, a 6-foot-tall 250-pound man, will disappear, too, just by pushing the chair for her. It’s so good that people will cut us off in line and they will close the door on us. I’m still trying to figure out if she could roll into a bank vault and come out with bags of cash. The perfect bank heist. No weapons. No one gets hurt. Only missing cash and no witnesses. This could be a military breakthrough: whole armies of wheelchaired soldiers storming the enemy.

I became really aware of this when we took our last trip to the Getty Center. Let me make one thing clear first. The employees at the Getty were great. They were very helpful and did everything they could to make our visit comfortable.

But the guests were the ones that couldn’t see her. Several times when viewing artwork, people would walk over and stand right in front of her, even though she was only a couple of feet away from the art. There would be plenty of room on either side or behind her, but no, the person had to be right in front, leaving her with a view of only their ass. She only comes up to about three and a half feet sitting in that chair, not hard to see over her. Maybe that was the problem: they couldn’t see her because she was so low to the ground. But that didn’t make sense because they were not tripping over her. They were just ignoring her, avoiding her, or, I think, for some reason, pretending she was not there.

One last observation, and my wife is actually the one to point this out. Who would you think would do this more often, the men or the women? Turns out, it seemed to be more often the women who would let the door close or would run in front of her to catch the elevator or would ignore her place in line. One woman who cut in front of Donna in a line at the gift shop looked annoyed when Donna said, Excuse me, to let her know she could see what the woman was doing.

F&*%^#g amazing.

I watch my wife endure a lot with this cancer and its disabling effects, not being able to reach things on a shelf and having a hard time getting in and out of places with her wheelchair. To me, the worst thing for her is when people treat her like she’s not even there.

Better be careful of the invisible. If they decide to rebel, remember, you cannot see them.


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© 2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

2 responses to “partner’s perspective: wife has super hero powers

  1. No way!

    I’m a 6 yr survivor of stage IIIc — 28 nodes positive and at least grape sized 😦

    Your post resonated with me because… We were at Knotts Berry Farm last week. My mom has a pretty debilitating case of arthritis and she was in a wheel chair. People cut her off, kids touched it, people totally acted as though she didn’t exist. But my brash personality came in handy… I commented all the time, “do you realize you just cut MY mother off?” “did you not see that she was in line?” “why would you allow your child to touch this?” A few times, I yelled out, “lady in a wheel chair coming through!”

    I wish it weren’t so, but people just don’t understand, and maybe they like to be in denial 🙂

  2. Yeah, been there, done that – am there, doing that.

    I saw a wheelchair a while back that had two big yellow flags sticking up from the handles, right at eye-level. At the time, I wondered why the person had done that… but now I’m pretty sure I know, and I think it’s pretty brilliant.

    In Las Vegas I met a guy who had a chair built on a gyroscope basis, sort of like the segway. There were four wheels, but the chair could rise up so that one pair of wheels was directly above the other pair of wheels, and the gentleman was raised up so his head was at regular eye-level height. He said it could go up and down stairs and even go on escalators without a problem. He said it changed his life, he was SO grateful to be able to function almost as a ‘normal person’. T

    He also said the guy who designed it couldn’t get the government to let Medicare pay for it, even though he was charging less than the average custom chair, so his little company eventually went under. The bigger chair manufacturers cut him out of the market. The gentleman I spoke to was terribly upset about this, because as he said, “Imagine what having this would mean to all the men coming back from the armed forces with injuries that will leave them permanently wheelchair bound for the rest of their lives.”

    He was right.

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