Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New Perspective

Oh, how life can change in the fraction of a second.

For us, it came Tuesday night, when my wonderful dad almost fell. In the process of regaining his balance, he somehow fractured the metatarsal bones in his foot. So yesterday was spent in doctor's offices, then x-ray, then medical supply offices, and on and on and on. Now he's in a splint with orders not to put weight on that foot for six weeks.


Suddenly he's consigned to a wheel chair. But hold on, some of the hallways and doorways in our home are too narrow for the chair. And Dad's neuropathy in his feet makes using crutches hazardous, to say the least. When he told me this morning he almost fell twice last night while going to the bathroom, well, we were out the door shortly thereafter to find another solution. We went on what turned out to be a day-long quest for a knee walker, during which I discovered just how heavy a wheelchair is when you're lifting it to and from a van. And how hard the darned things are to steer! And how many doorways are just barely wide enough to get through. And how STEEP some ramps are--and don't get me started on the hairpin corners we had to navigate!

Found the blessed knee walker at last, but discovered using it makes Dad's thigh cramp. So he can only use it for a few minutes at a time--just long enough to make it to his bedroom or bathroom. But hey, anything that keeps him off of crutches is a good thing.

So, as you can imagine, the last two days have been exhausting, for both of us. And as I sit here, going through my email at 11:30 at night because it's the first I've been able to get to it, I can only marvel at the folks who have to deal with these kinds of mobility and access issues all the time. And I have a question for those of you in that camp:

How do you do it?

How do you deal with equipment that just isn't right? How do you handle people being ignorant and careless (like the nitwit who squeezed past Dad when he was trying out the knee walker and almost knocked Dad over. All I can say is that twit was darned lucky Dad needed me to steady him rather than go after the putz...) and seemingly BLIND to the needs of those around them? How do you stay gracious in the face of a world that's unbelievably dense?

The good news for us is that Dad's condition is temporary. But for so many, this is a day-to-day struggle. One they won't be escaping any time soon. So let me issue a challenge. To you. To me.

Next time you see someone in a wheelchair, pay attention. Do they need you to hold a door open? Hold an elevator until they get on? Lift the chair into their vehicle? DO it! Lend a hand, folks. Be aware of those around you who may need help. It doesn't take that long to respond, but it can make a huge difference. And let's remember to pray for those who deal with mobility and access issues. The tiny taste I've had the last two days of the struggles they face is enough to make me weep--did I mention how heavy that darned wheelchair is??--and to double the respect I already had for these folks. Let's support them in our efforts and our prayers, because folks, it's a whole lot harder than many of us knew.



1 comment:

Anita Mae Draper said...

Oh, wow. The writer in me says this is a fantastic opportunity for research!

The human being says I hear your outrage at non-understanding people. And I feel your frustration for your father's - and others' - mobility problems.

It reminds me of a senior in our small town. He gets around on one of those 4-wheeled scooters. Two years ago, he became frustrated when a heavy snowfall impeded his ability to get down to coffee row. Someone built him a cover much like you'd find on a walk-behind snowblower. Now, he scoots down Main Street in all types of weather, cover in place. Yesterday, I went to angle park between two cars in front of the Co-op and realized as I began the turn that this man's scooter was there - parked like a car. It looked so funny beside the half-tons. In the winter he adds a tall orange flag like on the kids' shopping carts, so he can be seen through the snow.

I'm praising God for the blessing of the knee-walker and praying your father can sustain longer periods in it. Also praying for his health and your peace of mind.

Anita Mae.