Archive | February 2015

Elevator buttons — a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Can it be a conspiracy?

Sure, I may be older and wiser and all, but I’m still baffled by buttons in elevators. They’re beyond comprehension. I stand there staring at those little suckers confused — desperately trying to figure out which one to push. My relationship with them leaves much to be desired.

Admittedly, my sense of direction is non-exist but once I finally get to where I was supposed to be ten minutes ago, I pretty much know where I’m supposed to go. Now, if this sounds confusing, it is, so you can imagine how mixed up I feel because that last hurdle — the elevator — is the most confusing of all.

Elevators are where the real challenge begins. Does “G” mean ‘Garage’ or ‘Ground Floor’? Will “B” take me to the Basement or the B-level? Why do they use “P” for Penthouse as well as Parking, “M” for both Street Level and Mezzanine? Isn’t there anyone in charge of elevators clever enough to realize that I find all of this bewildering?

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

There ought to be a law making all elevator buttons standard

And, what about those additional buttons with pictures which are supposed to be helpful for confused, simple folk like me? They indicate either Open or Close and have something to do with the doors, but by the time I figure out which does which, the door has slammed shut in some poor soul’s face and I’m feeling guilty and apologizing to the air. I hate being rude to strangers. Whatever do they think of me?

Some people come up with brilliant ideas. For instance, don’t you agree a statue should be erected to honour the genius who first invented the potato peeler? You have to acknowledge that the potato peeler is absolutely fabulous — a genuine treasure. What would we do without them? Terrific, right?

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

There should be a statue in honour of the genius who first invented the noble potato peeler

But then, there are also people who lie awake all night dreaming up mysterious new secret codes for public elevator buttons, especially those I will be required to use. It has to be a plot! A plan purposely devised to keep me humble in these, my later years, which are supposed to

Elevator buttons are one way

Elevator buttons are one way “they” keep us feeling inadequate.

provide me with some wisdom.

If you are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, you’d be well justified in concluding these elevator buttons are one way “they” keep all of us feeling inadequate. After all, if we consider ourselves unable to figure out something as ‘simple’ as elevator buttons, how
can we presume to question those in power? Right? Bingo!

People like me, who have vestibular disorders, don’t like large shopping centers. The lights and colours alone make us uncomfortable. Add to that my lack of any sense of direction which makes it even more difficult for me to find the stores I want in large shopping malls. Besides, I just hate shopping.

Occasionally one must work up the courage and go. Be advised, however, information in shopping centre elevators is reserved for big-time spenders only. Obviously, I don’t qualify. Pray tell, what in the world does “R” , “C” or “P” represent? Like an idiot, I recently stood in an unmoving elevator looking at those meaningless letters until I was rescued by a kind stranger.

“C is where you want to go,” she stated with assurance.
“I thought it meant “Close”, I muttered, “That’s what it means in my doctor’s building. What does it stand for anyway.”
“I have no idea, but that’s where the stores are.”

I’m intrigued by a puzzle, so on the way down I tried again. This time the man I cornered in the elevator suggested it might stand for Centre.

“But, isn’t the whole structure a centre?”

He couldn’t help and I am a curious sort. I had to find out, so I called and spoke to an expert in our city’s planning and building department. He thought the “C” button at the shopping centre probably stood for — Concourse.
Of course, everyone knows that!

Doctor-assisted suicide for Canada

Muriel black and white Kudos to Canada’s Supreme Court, which this week voted unanimously for doctor-assisted suicide. It seems they’ve given a reluctant Conservative government a year to put it in place. This is something I have wanted for myself for years and I heartily approve. Hurrah for Canada, the country that made Gay marriage legal, and now has passed another important act of compassion.

Normal people don’t move mountains, and Dr. Jack Kevorkian, crazy as he may have been, was a hero in my eyes. He assisted 120 people to die. To my friend who is writing about serial killers, that is what he considers Kevorkian was — a killer. Interesting….

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

Dr. Jack Kevorkian and his suicide machine

People have strong feelings on this issue, and I will not argue. I just know how I feel, and lately, it has been front and center in my own life because a friend asked me to help him end his suffering. (And, this was not the first time I have been approached in this way — I don’t know why.)

“C” was a member of the organization I started 15 years ago for people with balance and dizziness disorders. When I first met him, I was sure the guy would kill himself at work, which sometimes required climbing ladders. He had Ataxia, which compromised his nervous system and his balance was severely affected even then. Fate sometimes plays cruel jokes on us, he had been a Tango dancing devotee.

His co-workers thought he drank. He let them think so. They would chuckle, and he would smile with them. But it was a charade — he didn’t drink — though if you saw him walking, you would certainly think so. He was determined to keep working until he was 65 so he could collect his pension. I was sure he wouldn’t make it….

No one fought harder than “C” to continue functioning, he attended Tai Chi classes, and regularly worked out at a gym. His arm muscles looked strong and powerful, but his illness was even more powerful. However, every step I thought he should take, he delayed. He drove longer than I thought he should. He walked without a cane longer than I thought he should — and he fell, again and again. When I felt he needed a walker, he finally gave in and bought a cane — and kept falling. When I thought he needed a wheelchair, he purchased a walker.

They must have known him well at the emergency department of his local hospital. Once, it was nine stitches to his scalp, another time it was twelve. Too often he sported ugly scrapes and bruises. I worried. He drove me nuts. It became too dangerous for him to live on his own. Long after I thought he should give up his apartment, he finally gave in. The falls, however, never stopped.

When things became more than he could bear, he asked me to help him end his life. I contacted “The Farewell Foundation”, an organization which helps people in his position as much as they are legally permitted to. They cannot provide anything for you, but they will stay with you when YOU, yourself, obtain or do whatever you decide on, until you are dead. I understood their position.

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Sociologist Russel Ogden, founder of The Farewell Foundation

Things became more and more unbearable. He could no longer write. He could no longer speak clearly. He could no longer hear much. I met with him and the kind people from the organization. They warned me to be careful and told me of possible dire consequences. A woman who had helped someone spent over $100,000 in court, lost her passport and could no longer leave the country. My children live out of the country. I love them. I want to be able to visit them. I was scared.

We visited his doctor together. He was sympathetic, but not willing to help — too frightened to I assume. Again, we understood. I bought the most recent copy of “Final Exit”. I read it cover to cover. I marked and underlined everything I felt could be helpful, brought it to “C” and read those parts for him. We talked about the various options. However, as usual, everything he decided to do, he decided on too late.

The last fall I was aware of cost him an eye. They had to remove it. After that, he was permanently hospitalized. Things were now truly out of his hands. He again begged me to help. I was told if he chose not to eat in hospital, they wouldn’t be allowed to force him, and they are required to keep him comfortable. Did he understand? Was the information I was given correct? I’ll never know.

He then asked me to take him to Switzerland. He could no longer walk at all. I would not be physically capable of helping him make it. It was too late. In desperation, he asked me to get him a gun. He was no longer able to hold one or to shoot it. It broke my heart to watch his suffering. Can a caring person be relieved and glad when a friend dies? I was….

For “C” and the other person I knew who would have opted to end his life on his own terms had he been able to, I hope this new law will be enacted and be there for all who wish it. You need not agree…..