Wheelchair Archive

20

Never Apologize

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“I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes — until I met a man who had no feet.” ~ Jewish Proverbs

I’m Dying!

Or at least that’s what I feel like.

MS tends to put me in a fragile wavering psychotic state.

Between the optic neuritis, numbness, fatigue, dropping things, tripping and falling I think I may be losing my mind.

My dream for normal used to be so strong but now it is slowly withering away. Each passing day brings me less confidence that I can get my former life back. I always keep a little hope alive but that may be because I can’t face the reality that I will never get back to normal again.

MS just makes everything suck sometimes. Like when I can barely push my wheelchair two feet without getting tired. Sometimes I can only do two rotations before my arms begin to give out. I don’t think that hardly being able to move about is a good sign at all.

Despite that limitation, since my home is small, you would think that making it to the restroom would be easy even for someone who occasionally has trouble maneuvering around. But that’s not always the case.

On one of my particularly bad days, while trying to stand, my right leg decided to give out and make me better acquainted with the floor. I was trying to go to the restroom and ended up on the bathroom tile, only a few feet away from the toilet. To further humiliate myself, while face down on the floor, I could no longer stop myself from urinating. It began to trickle and I knew I had only seconds left before I was at the point of no return. I crawled and actually made it to the side of the toilet but that was about as far as my arms could pull me. Then my bladder could not hold it back any longer. Suddenly the urine broke free and it was a full-blown gusher.

I began to cry.

Yes, I was lying on the bathroom floor crying and peeing at the same time.

The worst part was that I could hear my husband, Tommy, coming into the front door. He was back from a 30-minute workout at the gym. He rarely leaves me at home alone for more than an hour. I knew he would be heading straight to the restroom to cleanup after his workout so I only had a few moments. I quickly tried to close the door by kicking it shut but my legs would not respond. Before I could think of a plan b he had turned the corner and was standing over me.

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The funny thing about Tommy is that he always appears so stoic.

He asked me, “Are you alright?”

Totally embarrassed, I shook my head yes and continued to softly cry.

He lifted me to my feet and walked me over to the toilet. I sat there while he helped me get my clothes off and then assisted me as I got into the bathtub. I ran the water and he got me towels. As I sat in the tub soaking he cleaned the urine off the floor. It was taking him a while as it had spread throughout the bathroom. I sat in the tub watching him. I started to think that he didn’t sign up for this. If I were only normal again this would have never happened.

I just kept saying, “I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry.”

From his hands and knees while crouching in urine, he looked at me and said, “Don’t ever apologize for having MS.”
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This article was first published by MultipleSclerosis.net.

10

The Power Of The Chair

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“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” ~Mother Teresa

I own two power chairs. One is portable and the other is heavy-duty. Due to limited space in my home, the heavy-duty chair has been stored at my parent’s house. I never use it and it just sits in their dining room taking up space. My parents didn’t mind it staying there, but it bothered me. So last week I decided it has been at my parent’s house long enough and it was time to sell it.

So, what did I do? I took some pictures of it and tried to sale it on Facebook. I thought it was a good idea, but apparently…no one else did. Not one call.

Plan B was to give it away. I wish I had done that from the start.

I connected with my local MS Society and they gave me some leads of people who were in need. After a few days, I was able to connect with a fellow MSer who needed a power chair.

I recruited my dad to handle the specifics and the actual transfer of the chair. He’s good with that kind of stuff.

The man resides roughly two hours from my parent’s home, but was happy to make the trip. He was so appreciative.

Who knew how rewarding helping someone would be.

16

Living Cliché

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“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that
self may prove to be.”
– Mary Sarton

I wish I had a boring life.
I would be a mom with two kids and a stay at home wife.

I’d watch TV half the day.
Then shop the other time away.

I’d have lunch with friends.
Then, the next day, meet them again.

Go dancing on weekends and stay up late.
Every night, dinner with my husband is a usual date.

No medicine to ingest. No shots to inject.
I can go all day, no need for rest.

No doctors to see. No nurses around.
I’m always happy, you never see me frown.

I wouldn’t have to explain why I’m in a wheelchair, because there would be none there.

I would go to the movies and watch it from beginning to end.
I would run at the park with all my old and new friends.

I would sleep all day by choice.
And when I spoke, everyone would respect my voice.

No more smiling out of fear.
I’m the best at everything, the envy of all my peers.

My husband would be my husband, not my caretaker or nurse.
I would love that the most, because that part hurts the worst.

Am I wrong for wanting to be like everyone else?
I’m sad that I feel this way, but I really wish my life were a cliché.

35

Accessible Salon

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“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle

I mentioned before, my hair salon asked me to stop coming to their shop. To be fair, the owner actually said, “We can only work on you if you bring someone to assist you.” They said they were afraid I would hurt myself.

Well, since it usually took between 3 to 4 hours to complete, finding someone to stay that long in a hair salon was very tough. My husband volunteered but I knew he would be miserable. It was all women, everyone spoke Spanish and the TV stayed on Latin American television channels. That’s probably not his idea of a good time.

Since being asked, “not to come back”, it has taken a while for me to find a new beauty parlor but now the search is over. I finally found another hair salon. It is in a local shopping mall. It’s a pretty high-end mall. There is a fee to park and they also offer valet parking. We don’t valet park but we found out that the mall will validate parking if you show a receipt from a purchase.

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The salon is nice and it cost more than the old place. To remedy that problem, I go every two weeks instead of once a week. By doing that, the amount I spend comes to about the same as before.

The best part about the new salon is they work on me from my scooter. I never have to get up. Also, it is appointment only service instead of first come first serve. This cuts down my time in the salon to about an hour.

So far, I am in love with my new accessible salon.

Check out the finished product below.

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23

Parade Days

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Last week I was in the hospital for two days after having an adverse reaction to my latest prescription. The symptoms were so bad that the doctors first thought I had a stroke. It wasn’t until all of my test came back negative that we linked my sudden change in health to the new medication.

Before this happened, I was excited because it is Carnival time. I have been going to Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Louisiana for over 30 years. But this year just wasn’t the same. I can’t put my finger on it but I didn’t have as much fun as usual. My guess is, since I really hate being in a wheelchair, being at a parade in a wheelchair just wasn’t enjoyable. I don’t like when people stand in front of me blocking my view. It’s funny because everyone is nice until the floats start throwing trinkets. Then it’s every man for himself. Also, bladder issues can cause a real headache especially since the portable restrooms provided by the city are not wheelchair accessible.

But my best guess at the source of my newfound melancholy feelings toward attending parades is the fact that I have been extremely tired lately. I am so weak these days that it’s hard to enjoy myself at events, especially ones that take so much energy. Parade days are all-day affairs that can last 5 hours or more. And there are usually multiple parades. The recent one I attended was actually three different parades. This is something I did all the time, but nowadays it’s just too much for me. And being only one day removed from the hospital didn’t help either.

After I made it home from the parades, I decided I would not attend anymore because they are just too taxing on me.

Moments later, following my declaration, I saw a picture posted by Steve Gleason* at a Mardi Gras parade. He helped me put my overreaction into perspective. So now I have decided that I won’t totally stop attending Mardi Gras parades. I’ll just adjust how long and how many I attend.

Happy Mardi Gras Everyone!

*(Steve Gleason is a former New Orleans Saints football player who is now battling ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease)

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27

Mourn The Loss

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While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it. ~Samuel Johnson

It’s a good thing that my caregiver/husband and I get along, because I never would’ve imagined depending on him so much.

In the beginning of this newfound dependency on others, I was not a happy camper. I probably was defensive to the very people that were trying to help me. It’s just that we all have this picture of what life should look like and my reality just was not matching up.

Nowadays it seems I need help with just about everything. And to make matters worse or more complicated for all involved, I don’t need that help all the time. This confuses the person, normally my husband, as to when to help and when not to help.

Does that make sense?

I know he is only concerned about me. In the meantime, I’m so busy trying to hang on to my last bit of independence by continuing to do what I can on my own. I think this is a good thing.

I also have to accept there are things I can no longer do safely by myself. For instance, I need help getting on and off the toilet. It’s not every time I go, mostly just during the night or early in the morning. The other day, I had a nasty fall in the bathroom and it scared the life right out of me. Mind you my bathroom was newly made handicapped accessible. So, it seems no matter what, falls can happen.

I need help with transferring from one chair to another. That is, transfers from my scooter or wheelchair to the dining room table or to my favorite reading chair. Something I used to do with no problem.

I’ll be honest with you. It’s hard. To make it easier I quickly mourn the loss then I move on. The thing is, if I persist on focusing on what I’ve lost here, I will lose and MS will win once again. And it has taken away so much from me already.

I try to remember that our job as MS fighters is to make the most out of what we can do, no matter how small.

34

A Night Out

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The other night my husband and I went on a good old fashion date. We left my MS with a sitter and headed to a concert at a local nightclub. Of course, I was in my ever-present handy wheelchair decked out with mountain bike wheels. I was also in a good mood and ready to take on the winter air.

We arrive at the club. We are early and due to my wheels, they put us first in line. When the doors opened the guards ushered us straight in. Subsequently, we had first row standing room only positions. I was thrilled. I was proud of myself for even going. I left the confines of my laptop and condo. My biggest worry was keeping my bladder in check.

The night began with a local female disc jockey. For some reason I felt a shared feminine connection. She was dong what she loved to do, despite the odds that stack against her. I like to think, I am too.

An hour later, the funk star, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, arrived and nonchalantly passed directly in front of us! For those of you who are unfamiliar with his iconic status, the closest person I can compare him to is the late great Rick James.

Within minutes the house was packed. Still, George Clinton himself managed to greet me in person. It was the highlight of the night. Really, I think his security detail was concerned about a possible stampede.

George Clinton, “The Atomic Dog”, stopped to talk to me.

I’m not claustrophobic, but even the most stoic of us would have been a bit taken aback. Not even the oh so strong smell of marijuana could keep me calm. Since I was sitting, I felt that people were engulfing me. I think my husband saw my level of anxiety rising. He gently grabbed my hand; something he seldom does, in this case it only confirmed we were in a sticky situation.

A little over half way through the show we decided to leave. We received special permission to exit through the artist only door. There was no way we could make it back through the crowd to the normal exit.

After all, an hour and a half was good for me. I was drained. I met George. I was ready to go; besides, I had to go to the restroom!

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