Sunday, October 7, 2018

Rolling Through Life

I said it last night to my wife who was pottering around getting her clothes ready for her work week.  “I wish I could get up and walk.”  It’s a thought I haven’t uttered out loud since I lost the use of my legs on August 31st. My wife had her own doctor’s appointment in Miami then she went off home for the week to work and look after Rusty while I stay here and exercise my heart out. I took a few tentative steps while also putting my left foot more firmly on the ground than I should have done: 

As I become more physically active the restraints put on me by my wheelchair become ever more apparent. My chair is too wide for me and this creates numerous difficulties.  The back and the seat aren’t taut and the sagging produces a ghastly slump which becomes tailbone painful after a few hours. The wheels are so wide I have difficulty reaching the rings that I am supposed to use to propel myself. Often I resort to grasping the tire which is unsanitary and gets me yelled at. Even then the chair at 26 inches wide is a tank and an utterly unresponsive lump to move.

I send helpers out to seek out a 22 inch chair left perhaps by a departing patient to replace my monster. No luck so far. No response to my request from my case worker. I soldier on.  At least I am past the Hoyer Lift and now risk my neck by sliding from bed to chair and back: 

As long as you keep the plank under your thigh and don’t allow yourself to slide forward it’s quite simple. Strong arms help and an ability to wiggle. Meanwhile daily life continues. 

At home I use a safety razor and I stand nonchalantly before the mirror. Here it’s a bit different but I got the job done. Bit like the struggle to brush your teeth without dribbling toothpaste on yourself. It’s a whole different way to live.

A Perfect Saturday In Rehab

Friday night saw me grumpy in bed. My wife was coming down Highway One bringing the love dog with her when a failed passing attempt I believe at Mile Marker 72, near Duck Key, foiled her. 

It gets to be annoying for many reasons living along a single access road but this sort of nonsense, in low season no less, is doubly frustrating. No one died but the helicopter landed on the bridge to get a car occupant to Miami in a hurry. I didn’t envy her the flight...

As always with Facebook the details of what and why are absent. The pertinent news is that traffic was badly stalled for hours and I did not get to see dog or wife. I did get to speak by electric telephone with the wife. The dog was incommunicado.  Grr. I felt sorry for myself. 

I received word Saturday the highway was open and a second expedition was en route for my relief. I had a nice long chat with a friend. We sorted the world out and each other, a call that restored my equanimity and prepared me to meet my small brown bundle of love. It was actually pretty cool being able to get from bed to chair using a plank only. No more Hoyer Lift. I got this picture from my wife who witnessed my first attempts: 

She rolled me out to the courtyard where the breeze was blowing and Rusty ran around chewing grass and sticking his head in bushes. We sat in companionable silence and read, dropping comments on the news of the day into the peace of a bright warm Fall afternoon in South Florida.  It was pretty darned pleasant let me say. 



A neighbor of mine, Sonny who I’ve met and encouraged in rehab came out pushed by his devoted mother.  It was great. We traded war stories about coping with hospitals as only survivors can. It’s a small select group of us that knows the misery of ICU and the pain of recovery. My wife and his mother chatted about the vicissitudes of supporting patients in these strange circumstances.  It was good. 

I don’t know how you spent your Saturday but as odd as it sounds I don’t envy you.