Tuesday, December 18, 2018

From the Other Side


I am handicapped. No way around it. A form of denial manifesting in a wish or hope of “improvement” in the future I have now trashed as a pipe dream of unreality.

I was up against it last night. Evenings and nights are my worst time to walk. And it was a massive distance – traversing corridors on two different vast and shining floors of the university after maneuvering myself off a huge parking lot. I had to stop many times and lean on my cane (a fairly constant pal now). My two companions, frankly, irritated me with overly concerning themselves with my condition often to the point of massive irritation which manifested itself in rudeness. I have done this myself in the past with offerings of assistance but not with any "helpful" advice as they did (“maybe you should consider a wheelchair, consider a zimmer?”) last night. They meant well. I know they did. Then one said I should consider the surgery (12 weeks in hospital) as her mother, who died last year, was very well taken care of in the 12 weeks she had been in that hospital. I did snap at her a little (I was in extreme pain at the time) and asked her what her terminal mother had to do with my condition which involved vein and artery stripping and a brutal recovery if successful or not.

So all this is to say that I apologize to anyone physically challenged who has crossed my path before. I have tried to be careful and kind but sometimes it just isn’t enough.

These days I have doors slammed in my face, kids running and tripping over my cane nearly toppling me, the non-handicapped parking “for a minute” in a designated handicapped spot and comments like “well you’re walking, it can’t be that bad,” or “so many are far worse off than you,” or “everyone has a cross to bear in life”.

Jeez, as if I don’t know all these tired tropes off by heart and meditate on them periodically on a bad day. Today is a bad day. But I’m heading out on some book selling errands and a drop off of a small gift to a dear old couple (5 years older than I qualify as old).

Let’s all be kind and careful.

And mindful of each other.

30 comments:

  1. Yes.
    The tired tropes are undoubtedly true, but they don't take away any of the pain OR allow us to move more easily.
    Kind and careful is a good place to be.

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    1. One of the best responses today (my pain has been particularly awful) was: "we age, we ache". True dat. But maybe some worse than others.
      XO
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  2. My heart's with you. I hope I am at the end of my five month broken bone journey, but this time I may never relinquish my cane. And for the uninitiated, both a wheelchair and a walker are worse than a cane.

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    1. I would think that Joanne, but others differ. I will evaluate all options.
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  3. A few weeks ago I got "swimming might be good for you"

    mental note: never, ever give peopple treatment options unless asked directly.

    running kids terrify me.

    I echo Joanne about wheelchairs and walkers. All mobility aids are an absolute pain in the butt until you really need them at which point you can't do without

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    1. Yes I've had the swimming comment and actually got a new swimsuit and cap and mulling the benefits.
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  4. Nope, ROLLING walkers are not worse than a cane for me. Been using one since I was 57. My attitude is WTF do I care what anyone else thinks if I can GO.
    A rolling walker means that I can walk so much farther and I am independent. With my cane I need to rest after a block or two and I walk much more slowly. I daily walk more than a mile with my walker. More stability and a seat that goes with you, and the ability to walk at a decent pace is what you get with a rollator. The KEY is light weight, LARGE wheels(10in front) and European style that can fold side to side like an accordian.
    Sadly people don't treat you any better, they either are rude or patronizingly nice. Kids are better because many of them slow down to see what you are using.
    If you do better walking around a store with a cart than doing the same with a cane then consider a rollator walker. Try both ways and see what you think. Just something to think about.
    Oh! with my big wheels I feel pretty safe and can in snow not so with my cane.

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    1. Thanks for this information Candace. You have done all the research for me and so well. Big wheels makes a whole pile of sense.

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  5. Good reminder for all...thank you and speed on ...at your own pace. :)

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    1. I never thought I'd get there but I have. what the hell happened?

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  6. It's always a shock to go from healthy and fit to weak and achey or worse - pain. I get unpleasant surprises while out walking, sometimes -- suddenly I'll feel faint and fatigued (surely it's just overheating), or my back will start to hurt, or my feet will be sore, and I still have half a mile to go before I can sit down. My reaction is always: WTF!!

    I imagine it isn't much different no matter what the affliction or what the age, or even how much more slowly it comes on. An unwelcome confusion comes along with the incredulity. For me, anyway.

    I've yet to find myself cranky about it, but presently hubby is suffering with unrelenting pain in his leg and let me tell you, he is one growly bear. Understandable.

    I hope yesterday went better for you and you didn't suffer for it last night. xoxo

    Kate

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    1. Kate, this business has worsened in the last few days to the point where I'm breathless after the slightest exertion. Very unpleasant. I've arranged medical appointments. But. Christmas.

      Yes, we are never quite prepared for a sudden drop in our capabilities.

      A friend said to me today: this is the point where you can go bedridden or keep up and at em. I said to her bedridden has a huge appeal.

      Awful, I know but I went downstairs again to get something from the car, took forever but hey.

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    2. When one has always done for oneself and made one's way in the world, to not be able to without great effort or pain really sets one back. Terry and I are accepting that we are elderly and that elderly have different needs than when we were 20 somethings or middle aged. In those eras, we could take on the world, now, not so much.

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    3. I know DKZ adapting to change is so very hard, especially to chronic disease and its implications and downside. Needs must as we say and I'm still coming to terms with it all even after workshops on acceptance and adapting.

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  7. I think any companion who found themself target of a grump or two from you will, on contemplation, feel that they were the one truly at fault, and not you. Himself had a grump day or two recently when his eyes were feeling scratchym dry and slow recovering from cataract surgery. I grumped back, of course, but felt sorry afterwards.

    As we often remind one another - old age ain't for sissies. Grumping comes with the territory - no extra charge.

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    1. So good to be in a place (here) where all is understood and affirmed. Is Himself allowed Systane for his eyes, it does help with the dry. Now and again a good whine fixes me up, Himself too I hope.

      We are never quite prepared for the deterioration.

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  8. I told my husband to read your blog post, because he is physically handicapped too.

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  9. Oh good stuff, Gigi. Does he have PVD as well? (peripheral vascular disease).

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    1. No, he does not have PVD. He has arthritis and brittle bones. He recently had 2 knees replaced, so he walks better but only for short distances.

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    2. Ah, maybe his walking will increase or he can receive physio therapy? I had a friend who did this.The surgery is very painful.
      Tell him good luck.
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  10. My arthritis and varicose veins don't count as a disability, but boy do they make walking hard sometimes. I have days where the one affected leg aches like I've run for miles and it weighs so heavy. Other days I'm right as rain. It varies with the amount of time I spend sitting instead of moving. Then I'll have days where I start out fine, but halfway to the shops, which is only a seven minute walk, I have to stop walking for a minute because of a sharp pain in my upper left thigh. a minute's rest is all it takes then I can keep going. When I eventually get to the point where I need support, I'll look into a rollator as Candace suggested. I'm wondering if the vein and artery stripping you mentioned really does any good? I had some veins stripped years ago and was fine for a while, but now have a different set of varicose veins because of course the blood has to find a new way to get around.

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    1. And also, River there's the issue of women's veins and arteries being smaller and less able to tolerate such surgery. I've looked into a lot of "solutions" and methodology. Right now, I'm coming close to fainting with the effort. A new development. Thanks for your input and experience.

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  11. I have all three, a cane, a walker and a wheelchair, which I use when I go out. Even so I'm pretty housebound. I have an inherited neuromuscular disease for which there is no cure, and I don't remember a day in my life without pain. Doesn't mean I tolerate it well. I can get pretty growly with my husband, who is also disabled.

    When I dwell on it and the challenges we face in the coming years ( I turn 73 in two weeks and he'll be 78 in a month) I feel fearful and drained, so I just try to stay in the present, within reason of course. Bills must be paid, doctor's appts. must be made and kept, but I try not to project my "what if" fears onto tomorrow. And I try not to let pain turn me into a dragon too often. (Still working on that one)

    Be gentle with yourself.

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    1. Thank you so much for your perspective Deb. How on earth do you manage with the pain? Do you honour its presence or rebel against its demands? I vacillate. CBD helps a bit but the regular pain killers do not.I don't want it consuming my life too much.
      I am very lucky in that if I sit or lie down it goes away.
      So count the blessings when shaded against others. I was thinking particularly of my mother today who had to cope with young children on one terribly painful leg, her other had been amputated due to cancer.
      Let's not give up, tho at times the siren song calls me.

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  12. Living in India has its advantages and I fully exploit my handicapped status. I have however come across similar well meaning people and can relate to your angst. Yes, let us all be kind and careful, and if you are as fortunate as I am, avoid going to places that can give problems of walking long distances.

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    1. Yes, I must get a list. I was unprepared for the agony of Monday frankly. I will avoid such places in the future.
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  13. You have my sympathy! Yesterday I was climbing the few steps to the library which I can normally manage without a problem, but my knees refused to co-operate and I felt like an 'ould wan!' Then I remembered, wonky knees or not, I am an 'ould wan!' Hope you're feeling in a better frame of mind now...

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    1. I am so glad I shared this as I hesitated, you know how that is, complaining we were never allowed to do, all our crosses are different, Jesus will make it up to us, I could go on and on.

      Yeah auld wans we are in all our bockety glory Molly. I sure wish I could move tho.

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  14. I've been the recipient of many similar unhelpful comments! Your pain is your pain, and I think the best response to someone's pain is a simple, "I'm sorry." So, I'm sorry.

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    1. Thank you SAW, so few people can be genuinely helpful even though their intentions are the best as they feel suggestions are called for.
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