Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Walker

Yesterday, occupational therapy delivered a walker for me. Four wheels, a brake, a seat, a tray and a basket – all mod cons. The great news is it will increase my mobility and assist confidence. The bad news is that the seat is so low I can’t get off it – thighs and arm muscles aren’t strong enough. The good news far outweighs the bad.

The sad fact is that it is yet another indicator of waning power. When we first shifted here I could, with the aid of my stick, walk unaided to the shops to buy groceries or books, get my hair cut, pick up prescriptions, and if Anne was out buy fish and chips or even go for lunch at the local café. I could walk to the dentist, podiatrist and physiotherapist in the nearby medical centre. I could drive then or catch a bus to go down town to shop or meet friends. I could browse the bookshops, go to the library or muse along the waterfront.

Over the years I’ve had to give these things away. Several falls undermined my trust in my own capabilities. I’ve had to learn to avoid multi-tasking, every fall was a result of trying to do two things (automatically as I used to) at once like turning and blowing one’s nose. If I fell I couldn’t get up on my own. Now the podiatrist and hairdresser come to me. I only walk down the lane (unsteadily) with my caregiver or Anne. I even don’t go out on to the lawn unless someone’s around.

Giving up driving near the end of 2009 was the big thing. A loss of freedom. I had to rely on others for my food, medicines, whiskey, clothes. I can’t hop into the car at whim to buy pork sausages for my lunch or flowers for Anne. Friends have to come to me. I can’t meet them in their homes or half-way at a café. That step meant the abondonment of something I’d taken for granted all my adult life.

The decision to shift from an upstairs bedroom to downstairs at the end of last winter was another loss. But I felt increasingly uneasy on the stairs and realised that a tumble there could be dire. It was not worth the risk.

The tray on the walker will be a great asset. I mentioned I was commenting on a draft book for NZCER. Yesterday I shifted papers between my lounge chair and computer chair using the walker as I worked at the task. I do not trust myself to carry a full cup of tea from the kitchen to my chair. I now will be able to. And I will I hope be able to access the nearby shops again. Alas, my bussing days are over. Winston’s Gold Card sits in my drawer, unusable.

Never mind. The sun’s out. The rose Remember Me has three blooms – in May. There are wax-eyes at the abutilon flowers. The daphne buds are forming. Mid-winter is just a few weeks away. And I have my walker.

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