When I had the spur of moment, I made an appointment for a haircut.
My hairdresser was kind, but she became cold in the last few months. So, I felt I better start making proper appointments, instead of phoning on my good day to see if she can fit me in, which was fine by her at the beginning. On the phone, she still had the cold tone in her voice. I was a little surprised she gave me 5 pm appointment. It is later than my usual “late appointment”, so I triple checked with her that it is really 5 pm. She said yes each time. I assumed that she was busy and she couldn’t fit me in the other day I suggested.
On the appointment day, I took extra efforts to be on time. Although it was a late appointment, I struggled to get ready in time. I struggle to function even in the afternoon these days. I pushed through exhaustion, weakness, and dizziness to get ready while taking rest in between. So, when I showed up to the appointment on time, I was secretly proud of myself.
I waited at the reception area for a while. I could see the hairdresser, but she was busy doing something. I waved at her, but she wasn’t looking. When she finally noticed me, there was disappointment and upset in her voice.
“It’s 5 past 5, Rachel!” That’s all she said, and she repeated it few times.
I was here on time, and was waiting for a while. I couldn’t understand her upset. I reminded her that the appointment was 5 pm.
Her cold attitude and anger in her voice was making me feel very uneasy.
Since I lost my ex good GP, everybody I know in the Shopping Plaza, including the patients of the surgery, became very cold. Telling from how suddenly they changed their attitude, I can tell that there are some nasty gossip about me going around. I cannot defend my reputation since I don’t know what it is about, and of course, nobody talks to me.
The hairdresser and I argued about the appointment time. She was very firm that it was for 4 pm. I reminded her that I triple checked with her on the phone. But she didn’t let me finish the sentence and just said “NO!” She showed me she’d written my name at 4 pm, but I didn’t see it over the phone…
Looking at her angry eyes, I just couldn’t figure out what was happening to me and to the people at this Shopping Plaza. I froze there and burst into tears.
These days, my best efforts are not good enough. I do all my best to do the right thing, but people seem taking everything wrong or against me. It’s almost like everybody hates me.
My emotional breakdown shocked her, and her voice became a little softer and assured me that she was going to cut my hair anyway. It wasn’t the reason why I broke down. It was just one of them. I didn’t expect her to cut my hair now since she thinks I didn’t keep the appointment and arrogantly showed up hour later. I’m not that kind of person, and I DON’T demand people to give me special service just because I’m sick and disabled. As long as level of my illness and disability allows, I do my best to cooperate with able-bodied people’s rules and their conception about how life works.
She looked confused, but started gathering her tools anyway despite of my uncomfortableness. I became teary again as all my efforts and precious energy won’t be wasted. At the same time, I felt bad of causing such inconvenience even it wasn’t my intention.
She apologised for raising her voice, and I assured her that it was not the reason for my breakdown. Everything is going against me. Everything is getting harder and harder. I just don’t know how to stop this landslide-like deterioration of my life. I’m also on a long-lasting exacerbation. During the last week, I was so unwell that I couldn’t make proper meal for few days. I didn’t have stamina to do dishes and it was another reason I couldn’t prepare. I just ate any food I could find in the house. It caused extra gastro problem. I wasn’t getting any better because I still had to keep pushing myself just to look after myself with such low energy reserve. It was a vicious cycle. When you have to get-by each day like this over and over, isolation and loneliness intensifies as well.
We didn’t mention the appointment time anymore. I didn’t see the point in arguing, so I apologised for showing up at the wrong time as peace-offering. But, I had to explain that I’m not the kind of person who is so arrogant that show up at the appointment hour later and demand the service. I never ever demand special treatment nor to cause inconvenience to them by using “disabled” as weapon. That is the reason why it was so important for me to prove that 5 pm was the appointment time I believed to be given. And I put so much efforts to be on time. I’m not making my own rules.
When her attitude became softer, she explained that she was having problem with surrounding noise when I spoke with her. And she suggested it was possible that the misunderstanding happened because of that. I took it as her apology, at least, it was her peace-offering.
It was such a relief to see the kind hairdresser I used to know. She realised I am getting closer to the breaking point and asked lots of questions, such as how ill I am, if I have any help come to my place, how I’m looking after myself, if GP is helping me, and so on. She became more and more concerned about me. In her opinion, I would only go down to hospital or worse if something doesn’t happen to change it. I know, but what can I do…? After all my able efforts, there is just no help. To make things worse, I lost the only support I had…
I told her my hope to see the GP Specialist in Brisbane and I need to find someone to take me there. If this doesn’t happen, I agree that my life would just get deteriorated further and further to the point of no return, if I’m not already there yet.
A kind long distance friend with ME had offered to ask her family to take me to the doctor, if I just cannot find anyone. Before I take up her offer, I would like to check every possibility first as I feel it is too much for them to drive all the way just take me to the doctor. And it’s possible that there would be a multiple initial consultations. I’m going to check one possibility at a time when I can.
The hairdresser was thinking how to find the help for me. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t want her to feel obliged because of the unpleasant argument we had today. I was grateful enough that she cut my hair today despite she wanted to go home. But, I didn’t sense any undue obligation nor guilt from her. She decided to drive to the surgery and check if she can push me in wheelchair. If the hill is too steep, she cannot help me. But she has a couple of people in her mind to ask if they can help me.
When there is something I could try and someone who understands, the heaviness of the despair on my shoulders lifted a little. I was also grateful that she gave me the little relief.
I didn’t know what to think or what to say. I thanked her many times, but I felt that wasn’t enough. She made sure it wasn’t a promise. I’m grateful for her honesty. I knew and I don’t want to put her in any inconvenience. I know it’s a difficult challenge. I would be grateful if it happens, and I wouldn’t get upset with her if it didn’t happen. Her offer is realistic and reasonable, and I felt easy to accept it.
The another reason why I had to make the appointment despite I wasn’t well enough was because I needed to find someone to witness my signature for the postal voting. This always gives me extra task to find someone. I could have asked for electoral visit, but it is very likely that they would knock on my door during my non-functioning hours since I cannot request the time for the visit. Not many people understand or accept that disability due to illness needs different considerations in support comparing to disability due to physical loss/impairment.
I asked if the hairdresser wouldn’t mind witnessing my signature. She happily witnessed it for me.
Since her EFTPOS machine was out of order, I grabbed all money in my wallet and asked her to keep the change as a tip since I caused so much inconvenience to her today and she helped me so much. (We don’t tip in Australia.) She accepted it, but gave me $5 back as she felt it was too much to take from me.
While I was in the Plaza, I went to the Chemist and paid the account and filled one medicine that would run out sooner. It was a little tricky request, but the Pharmacist put lots of thinking and consideration to make it happen, so that I can stretch the time to come bakc for the next monthly refill if I’m too ill.
Although I was physically and emotionally exhausted after this outing, I mentally felt easier because I have one friendly person back at the Plaza and I can just rest for a while since some of “things-to-do” were ticked-off.