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

Mar 29 2015



Day by day I was figuring out how to do things I used to do without ever thinking about the mechanics of the task. I learned how to brush my teeth and do a sponge bath on my own, while seated on the scooter. It’s true that cushion is no seat. It is hard to sit on and even harder not to feel like you’re going to fall off or roll away, even with the brakes locked, but sometimes there’s nothing else you can do.

One day I was able to pour coffee when Paul left the carafe sitting on the counter, rather than in the machine where it usually goes. By then it wasn’t hot, but I didn’t care. I’d done something on my own! I had the travel mug for coffee, which closed up and didn’t leak, and another day I figured out how to get into the fridge for a bottle of water. It took a lot longer to figure out how to carry things back into the living room – that is, things that wouldn’t go in the basket on the front of the scooter. I was afraid to let go of those handles, even with one hand.

By then I’d realized everything took twice or three times as long to do as it would otherwise. A big effort, such as a sponge bath and a change of clothes would also require a nap afterward, because it truly wore me out. An hour’s visit with my brother would wear me out, too. I’m sure I was quite a sight there in the recliner, in those cold days of January.  I had a kitchen towel draped over my bare toes protruding from the cast. For the rest of my lower body, I draped and tucked a purple fleece poncho the kids had given me for Christmas anywhere I thought I’d get cold. Then I wore a light sweater backward (for ease of removal in case I got hot, and so as not to upset the delicate balance of a comfortable position) to cover my arms and chest. To complete the ensemble, if my head was cold I’d put a sweatshirt on the back of the chair and let it hang over my head. If I had any sense of humor then I would’ve had my husband take a picture & post it to Facebook, but there was very little humor extant at the time.

I felt like such a slacker, but I kept reminding myself this wasn’t like a cold or something that goes away after a week. It was a structural breach requiring time, patience, and rest. Medical science really only creates conditions under which the body can do its own healing in the optimal way.

At some point I remember wondering what I was going to do with myself when I got bored. My daughter-in-law sent me a text with one word – write. In January, though I couldn’t. I have one of those computer tables on wheels that swings over a chair, so the laptop was accessible, even if I couldn’t get into the office. Mostly, though what I did then was read. When I got tired of reading I’d turn on TV. I didn’t even look at Facebook or any of that for days at a time. I wasn’t bored. I was too tired to be bored. Taking a look at my email account, I found all the emails I’d sent in January involved cancelling appointments, alerts I’d be missing a meeting, and the like. Soon after going to doc’s the first time, I posted one of my x-rays on Facebook along with a note about the accident, thinking my actual friends would recognize I probably wouldn’t be around much for a while.  Books and TV, and on weekends BookTV was what I was doing in between naps.

My right leg from the knee down felt like a useless appendage, like I’d suddenly sprouted a flipper or something. It didn’t feel like part of my body, somehow. It also weighed me down, which was a good thing as a couple of times I woke up from a nap thinking there was something I needed to go and do, forgetting I couldn’t actually go and do anything. Had the cast been lighter I might have just gotten up and landed promptly on the floor.

At night I was sleeping on the wrong side of the bed, because I couldn’t navigate the scooter around to “my” side due to lack of room. Well, I was sort of sleeping: either I’d be out right away, or sometimes I’d lie there for an hour or two before giving up and going back into the living room in search of another book. I had to learn to sleep on my right side, which took a while. At first I slept on my back, because it was so hard to roll over and I hadn’t yet figured that out. I’d wake up and my arms would be freezing and my mouth would be totally dried out from sleeping with my mouth open. One of my granddaughters falls asleep like that in the car sometimes, and when she does, she looks just like the little girl on the Simpsons. I still wonder if I look like Marge without the hair.

A couple of times I’d apparently forgotten to take the most recent pain pill, and the pain woke me up, sending me out to the living room where everything was, as fast as I could move, muttering and groaning all the way. So about then I gave up on the “getting ahead of the pain” business and went to only taking a pill when and if I needed it. I went from four pills a day to one rather quickly, and stopped worrying about forgetting it. Yes, I know I have plenty of ways to remind myself to take a pill, even having my phone call me but I had to remember to do that, too. Which I never did.

Everything I did had to be considered carefully in exhaustive detail before the attempt. That first cup of coffee I poured, for example, required remembering to take my travel mug when I went to the bathroom, and stopping in the kitchen on the way back, because I hadn’t yet tried turning around in there. Could I get close enough, reach far enough with one hand, or would I need to let go of the handles of the scooter and try somehow to keep my balance? While not panicking?


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

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

NOW READING >>>>>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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