Thanks For The Wheels, Mama!

In 2001 when my mom was dying of cancer of the pancreas, my brother decided to buy a wheelchair for her instead of rent one. “Someone will need it someday,” he insisted. I didn’t get the point, she she was dying from the moment they found the cancer. But we went on many walks around the neighborhood looking for robins and buds and enjoying the sunshine, together.

Even while I was getting the hang of operating it, she still had her sense of humor. I wheeled her forward over the lips and curbs, instead of backwards.

“Are you trying to kill me?”
“Nope, just trying to add a little excitement to your day.”

Seriously. . you can really lurch someone forward with those things. Today, I know that from experience. And children should not be allowed to operate them. Unless they really do want to kill you.

Although his appearance may fill you with fear, it was my husband who did the most damage.

“We are going to have to remodel, honey,” my husband said as he banged into every corner–from the couch I have become one with–to the bathroom that is smaller than a trash can.

I don’t want to remodel. Nor do I want to need a wheelchair. This treatment makes my joints lock, hurt and swell. I keep blacking out when I try to stand and even if I could, I don’t have the breath capacity to make it across the house. But it’s hella better than the firefighter’s carry. Yeah. That wasn’t working at all. I weigh more than he does, and frankly, he isn’t as strong as he thinks he is.

I never thought I’d really need a wheelchair. If I skip my meds tonight, I might not even need it tomorrow. Such is the nature of lyme disease. If I keep a sense of humor about it. . it’s okay. It gets me to and fro. Those missing pieces of plaster on the edges of the walls and doors? Someday, we’ll tell these stories and laugh.

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2 responses to “Thanks For The Wheels, Mama!

  1. Yes! Some day you will tell those stories and laugh. I’m sorry you need the wheelchair, but glad you have one when you need it. I hope you don’t need it for long.

  2. Good for you. I hate canes, wheelchairs, leg braces, casts, and walkers, even cute, groovy, and fun ones. But they’re better than the alternatives, constantly falling, crashing, and getting hurt. Don’t know how your home is configured, but additional handrails on the stairs made a huge difference for me – as did learning to descend stairs backwards, one step at a time, for the best safety (you tend to fall forward, not backwards), and following the rule of always having at least one hand firmly on the handrail, so carrying laundry baskets, etc., anything requiring two hands is out. Extra handrails in the bathroom, plus a raised seat in the toilet and grab bars helped a lot. A stool or a seat in the kitchen helped with fatigue with standing for cutting, dishes, and food prep. For me squatting was impossible – once down I couldn’t get back up without help – so keeping a cheap plastic low stool handy in those areas where I needed to get down made a big difference. Still does, since my legs are my weakest point.

    Stairs are also great slides, like most kids have already discovered, so I would put items in a laundry basket and slide them down gently like on a big ramp.

    I think our lesson to ourselves is to stay real and safe with where we are right now, and the supports we need to have, wherever we are at the present time. In my case, I was lucky enough to be able to retire all those things, in fairly short time, and felt confident enough about the new vigor to donate all those supplies to a hospice organization. I hope you will, too.

    But nonetheless, staying protected and safe right where you are right now is premier, and all those good supports will do just that. They also provide a visual and emotional clue to others as to the severity of our challenges, which can help to deliver the message some folks just can’t hear or accept otherwise. As much as I resisted taking on these accommodations, they really helped me to manage where I was, and to be safe, but the remarkable thing was how it got folks off my back and on to my team really quickly. I hope it might do all that for you, too, my dear friend.

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