I speak fairly regularly on the effect disability has on the entire family. Having lived and worked with disability in my home for more than 30 years I genuinely felt I had a pretty good understanding of the reality of disability and ambulation.
Then I had foot surgery . . . .
To be fair the Doctor told me in advance that I would need to stay off my foot for two weeks. I was sure though that I’d be able to go back to work after a coupe of days, after all I have a high pain threshold.
After surgery the Doc told Jerry, “now it’s your turn to try to tie her down the best you can for the next two weeks!” Thankfully I listened and heard what he said – I can do two weeks now off my foot, and a relatively reasonable extended recovery. Or I can push it now and then have a long drawn out recovery.
Prior to discharge from the hospital a Physical Therapist gave me a pair of crutches. It didn’t take more than a few steps to realize they weren’t for me! So then we tried a walker – still meant I had to hop on one foot only, but at least I had more stability.
The walker got me home (with the help of a friend and the lift on Jerry’s van). But once I was home I took the seat of honor – one of Jerry’s older power wheelchairs. Now that was the way to travel and survive this journey! I could keep my foot highly elevated and still be able to mo
ve through the house. A few days later a friend lent me a knee walker. I’v
e been alternating the two throughout the week.
You know, sitting in that chair, even knowing that when absolutely necessary I could stand up for a transfer, gave ma a whole new perspective on my husband. It’s not as easy as it looks to just manipulate that little joy stick and successfully navigate the corners, halls and doorways of a home. Getting things from the refrigerator take a considerable longer amount of time that I ever thought they “should.” Shutting the blinds, or putting laundry away – it just doesn’t happen in the same way. It’s hard to balance a meal you’ve just taken out of the microwave on your lap with one hand while moving the chair with the other hand.
Then add to that fun two wheelchairs, and a Christmas tree and the challenge moves to a whole new level. If you want to see the fun for yourself you have a week or so left to come view our “dance” in person.
On the flip side Jerry, while not having the option to walk for this week has commented several times about, “Wow, you go through this every time you get a meal out for us?” And mind you – he is “just’ reheating food that other have graciously brought us! A quick trip to the grocery store becomes a full evening activity for him. Taking a couple of hangers of clean laundry to the closet really does take about 10-15 minutes to complete.
Yes, this is just a temporary arrangement in our home and lives, but the eduction and appreciation we have both gained will hopefully impact our lives and appreciation of one another for years to come! I know the laughter and tears from the memories will be there.
Forget that walking a mile in his shoes – I’ll ride in his old wheels any time!