Earlier this year, I was still walking, unaided, sometimes unaccompanied and could usually go 1.5 miles and sometimes further (the year before it had been 4 miles solo). When I began falling a lot, I started using a walking stick, which helped me walk the 2 mile daily sojourn from Ameugny to Taizé and back this past spring.
Alas, this past summer saw us falling again, fortunately, mostly in the house, even with the stick, a sturdy device meant for hikers. Angel Heidi then appeared with the hemi walker, which has gotten me around, including to photo assignments for InMenlo these past two months or so.
But, as the inevitable decline continues, we’ve become pretty wobbly even with the hemi walker. Monday morning we fell while making our way the few steps from bed to bathroom. I managed to hit a doorframe and a heavy stool before arriving at the floor, but otherwise survived in one piece.
Unfortunately, Linda was out jogging (and I foolishly disregarded my promise to stay in bed until her return) so I was temporarily on my own. I quickly realized that there was no way I was going to get up on my own (a feat I’d managed in the past by crawling to some large upright object, and using my strong right arm and leg to haul myself up). For one thing, I can’t crawl anymore, so weak has the left side become, and while I did crab my way to the side of our very sturdy bed. I couldn’t get the body into a useful geometry from which to launch the strong “Heidi Muscles.” after 20 or 30 minutes of struggling, I got onto my back, pulled the bed cover down over my unadorned corpus, and tried to snooze. The hard floor actually felt good under my perennially sore back.
Linda returned and immediately started the drill that has worked to peel me off the floor in the past. she got me up on my right knee, a prerequisite to extending the left leg and using it to hold the body while I moved the right under my torso, preparatory to lifting while grasping the sturdy bedpost.The left leg, it turns out, is no longer stable enough for the chore. It can push down with useful force, but I’m no longer capable of holding it upright and steady.The leg kept collapsing to the side.
Time for Plan B said Linda, and she hurried over to fetch neighbor Dr. Kurt Hafer, who just happens to have been trained as an ER physician. Kurt had me off the floor in about a minute using some magical lifting technique (he put his arms around my chest from behind and lifted straight up).
So it’s time for the next phase – a power wheelchair in my case (one-armed people have a problem with a conventional wheelchair, unfortunately). An occupational therapist is coming for a consult this morning, a Medicare requirement….