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Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again PART 3

Mar 28 2015



Now there was nothing to do but convalesce, and figure out how to do things.

I’m a former Detroiter, so it shouldn’t have been any surprise that I’d do so much better on four wheels than I did on two sticks. It was a matter of learning how to drive in the house, with no traffic, but plenty of road hazards, such as walls and furniture. Now, this particular scooter is not the motorized variety; it is entirely human-powered, or to be more specific, left foot powered. Note the term used in the DME industry for the thing is, “knee roller,” which is both more and less descriptive than the term I use. I know the first time I saw the thing referred to as a knee roller on paper I wondered why I was going to get my knees rolled.

After two months of practice it’s the easiest thing in the world to get from Point A to Point B. Oh, but those first days were hard. That chronic panic I mentioned earlier was still with me, and the simple act of moving from chair to scooter and back again seemed an acrobatic act worthy of the Flying Wallendas.

First I had to deal with the chair. The same gel cushion that made the recliner not only painless as possible and allowed me to fully recline (I’m about four inches too short to make that happen otherwise) now worked against me. It threw off the balance of the opening-and-closing mechanism, whatever you call it. When I went to take down the footrest and come to a fully upright position, I had to simultaneously push forward on the chair’s lever on the side while pushing down and back with my good leg. I’d later regret this movement, but at the time it seemed the only way.

Next I’d find the cane my husband had dug up just in case, on the floor next to the chair, and use it to hook the back of the scooter, and bring it over from where it was parked out of the way of the computer table. Then I’d sit and ponder my next move for a moment. At this point everything was scary, and I never knew what movement would hurt or throw me off balance. I’d grab the handlebars of the scooter and use them for balance while I pulled myself up on one leg and applied the other knee to the cushion that looks like a seat but isn’t. (And it isn’t! More on that later.) Then I would be on my way.

Once my husband happened to be standing there when I was making the transfer from chair to scooter. He was holding the handlebars to steady the thing, and jiggled it a fraction of an inch, just as a joke. He hasn’t done that since. Most likely my gasp, combined with the look of sheer terror on my face when he did that was enough of a suggestion I was best left unassisted.

In those early days my route was limited to bathroom and bedroom. I also recognized that somewhere along the way I’d developed a noise that accompanied each movement. It sounded like, “huh.” I think it was partly a question, as in “Am I going to make this?” or “What’s going to happen now?” and partly a tiny groan of effort. As I got more proficient in in-house driving, it disappeared as mysteriously as it showed up.

Navigation on the vehicle is not the same thing as getting up and walking around. It really is like driving a car. You have to back up and maneuver, with a limited turning radius. Most of the time you have to pick up the front wheels and move the whole thing over to where it needs to be. There are also things and places that are simply inaccessible.

I’d go by the door of my office with a sad look toward my desktop computer, the printer, the built-in desk with the padded edges. I couldn’t even figure out how to get in the room, let alone how I’d manage once I was there. Nothing in the kitchen seemed within reach, and for the first couple of weeks, I couldn’t so much as pour myself a cup of coffee.  Once that holiday weekend was over, Paul would leave me a cup and a travel mug full of coffee, a bottle of water and a sandwich for lunch in a baggie on my table, within reach. Then I was left to my own devices as he went off to work.

If I were to give the month of January a title I’d have to call it “The Month of Living in a Fog.” 

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 1

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 2

NOW READING>>>>>Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 3

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 4

Broken Grandma – a journey on wheels and feet and back again Part 5

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Meet Trudy

Trudy W. Schuett chairs the Regional Council on Aging for Arizona's Region IV, which includes Yuma, La Paz, and Mohave counties. She is also a member of the Governor's Advisory Council on Aging, and sits on the Board of Directors of Arizona Humanities. She lives in Yuma, but this year spent the summer in Glendale helping out with the grandkids. Carley and Tori are now in third and fourth grade.

Meanwhile back in Yuma, her husband Paul is watching the calendar. In November 2015 he retires from Marine Corps Community Services, where he's been teaching Marines how to fix their cars since 2000.

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