So when I watched Avatar and saw Jake, unable to walk and in a wheelchair, take on a Na’vi body that allowed him to not only walk, but even run, I felt pangs of jealousy.
“In Real Life” Reality
I have not been able to walk very far for several years. After the Gastric Bypass in 2001, I lost lots of weight (which I have gained most of back), but also any calcium I took in wasn’t absorbed and now I have osteoporosis.
I have broken my feet (both) two times from trying to walk to lose weight and again last year falling up some stairs. I have broken my left foot requiring 3 surgeries after falling off a Wii Fit board, also trying to lose weight. Ironically, I fell over a balance scale in 1995 and broke my right ankle and that required 2 surgeries to repair and left me unable to walk but to the bathroom for almost 3 years. I am quite accustomed to the post-surgical boots now.
(And no, losing weight will not fix it. It could make them hurt less, but trying to lose weight when you cannot exercise is a distinct challenge. Even swimming, I have cracked a bone in the top of my foot.)
I have been counseled several times to get an electric wheelchair, but have balked. Now with the new #NotMyPresident coming into power, I might have lost my window for getting one with insurance paying. Instead, I use a walker when I have to walk somewhere (therapist’s or doctor’s office, for example) or an electric cart if they have one (Target, Costco, etc.). I no longer walk in the mall, Disney World, concerts or go anywhere I have to walk further than about 4 minutes and when I do, I go very slow to preserve my bones.
Virtual Reality is used for a variety of rehabilitative purposes, including with autism and others who need help acclimating after an injury that changes the person’s abilities. It is used with spinal cord injuries to teach folks how to move and even walk again.
Even so, there are detractors, saying:
Some people also worry that steady exposure to virtual reality could alter the way people perceive the real world. Concerns have also been raised about the effects of people mostly communicating with others online. But on the other hand the internet and VR-enhanced communications can also be a great way of bringing people around the world closer together and enable disabled people with restricted mobility and independence, to interact with a wider network of people.
The thing is, I am not playing with Virtual Reality, but am creating my own Scenes, scenarios, storylines and community online through my writing. But yes, I know being online has increased my interactions with others… absolutely.
When I am online, which is a lot, I am freed from those pesky real life limitations of being fat and physically disabled. I am able to walk miles, run through (metaphoric) meadows and do all the things I ache to do in real life that will never happen again. I feel like Jake; freed from the constraints of my flesh and (brittle) boned body.
I cannot go out for coffee or have delicious sex as much as I desire because of my physical restrictions. Online, my life is robust and I would say almost completely satisfying. I miss my kids and grandbabies and miss going to Disney World (and those are enormous things to miss), but other than that, I am pretty content where I am behind the screen. I never want to be in a face-to-face lover relationship again; my virtual ones are amazing and I embrace them fully.
I love being able to have unencumbered sex with my friends, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate.
It is in these beautiful places that I do, most assuredly, feel cyber-ly abled.