Doesn’t make much sense does it? If you’ve read me for a while, you’ve heard me discuss the efforts I have made to keep walking for as long as possible. Times change though, and if reaching my 40’s has taught me anything, most change comes from necessity. 2015 has become the year of fully accepting my new limitations, but also looking for new ways to keep my freedom. In short, my legs have deteriorated to the point of being useless…and thus something to celebrate.
You see for the longest time, I fought it. I tried to walk when I could, first using canes, then walking sticks, and finally a walker. Despite becoming more and more unstable, I convinced myself that I needed to walk for as long as I could. I knew, in my head, that the day would come when I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore, so I wanted to do it as long as I could. This determination and stubbornness did, of course, lead to some issues. (see broken ankle and several falls where I got lucky but walkers didn’t survive). Hey you try walking up a flight of four stairs with a walker balanced on one side and a handrail on the other. My physio was pulling a Sergeant Schultz when I explained it to her , “I hear NOTHING!”
There was more than just stubbornness to it mind you. I had learned early on that every time I went long periods without using my legs much, they got much worse. This usually happened after a vacation when we’d use the chair exclusively (hard to take a walker on a flight for a cruise). I knew that the less I used them, the more quickly they’d go downhill. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem there was ever any “uphill” no matter how much exercise I did. All there was….was more risk. Having already dislocated and shattered an ankle, broken several toes and a few foot bones…I was tired of the risk. It was time to just take the next…step? Roll? See? There is no way for me to put that without it becoming a punchline.
With that in mind, we finally made a decision we should have done months earlier. To end 2014, we finally got a porch lift for the front of the house, so I could avoid the four simple stairs up into the house. This took away the biggest fall risk I had, and also greatly sped up my ability to get in and out of the house, much to Shannon’s Saturday morning relief. Thankfully, the closing in of the porch we had done a year earlier worked out perfectly to do this…we just have to worry about some lawn work come spring time, but so be it.
From there we got more serious about our options at finding a better car. I loved my Dodge Journey, but it just wasn’t possible for me to walk around to the back of the car, sit on the bumper and then try to load and unload the chair. My upper body could handle it, but when you have no base to balance on, it just doesn’t work. We needed something that could be modified for easier access for both me and my chair (there’s a parody song in there somewhere, “me…and my chaiiirrr”) that still allowed Shannon to drive the car. After a lot of back and forth, we settled on the Mazda 5 and finally got the mods done. I’ll be doing a post with some pics and vid of those mods once the weather improves a bit. It’s been too damn cold to hold a tablet to video the process…you don’t need to be made sick with shakey hand cam. That got finalized toward the end of January, so 2015 was starting well.
We had one last walking obstacle to overcome. Getting from the porch INTO the house. For some odd reason, we had never bothered to try to get the chair through the door and into the house. We always assumed the step up was too high and the door and turn after it too awkward. Then one day, when I decided it was way too damn cold to leave the chair on the porch, I actually tried it. Lo’ and behold, my improved wheeling skills worked their magic, and into the house we went (yes my chair now counts as a “we”, it’s gaining personality). The last walking barrier overcome and I was elated!
And I wasn’t lost on the irony of it.
I still dream of walking. I don’t dream of me in the chair. I have spent the last two months working hard to eliminate the need to walk from my daily activities, knowing full well that it would speed the uselessness of my legs. Logically, I knew that it was time to accept it, time to realize that safety came first, and with it, I would actually be even MORE mobile and yet…I still dream of walking. Oh and of riding…but that’s a whole other set of dreams. I still wake up some nights with the scent of forest of the last walking hike Shan and I ever took…a few months before the last surgery in 2011. I doubt those dreams will ever end, but they aren’t as sad now.
So we celebrated and laughed. Four years ago I fought like my life depended on it to avoid this…and eventually learned that sometimes you have to embrace what you see as your “enemy” to move on. Wheeled life is as good a life as life on two legs. So at 42 years, mind you with the brain of a 17-year-old, I’ve come to accept all that wheeled life entails. Ok, let me back that up…I still don’t accept the spasms, the tone, the nerve pain and the general shouting at my legs to BEHAVE! The wheeled part though?
Life’s not so bad from down here.
(keep watching for those vids to come, and do me a favor…if you enjoy, share it, subscribe to it. One day, I think this might actually catch on…maybe…possibly…could be…and lord I hate begging for shares)