Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too. ~~Lawrence Bixby

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Part 3: A Year in the Life


Seattle adventure earns a 9.5 for accessibility.

In July, Laurie and I took the Amtrak to Seattle for an uncharacteristic weekend of theater and art. When we found out last winter that the musical Fun Home would be in Seattle, we started making plans to see it. If you’re not familiar with the musical, it’s taken from the brilliant Allison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of her early life growing up in the family’s funeral home with her closeted gay and depressed father and melancholy mother. It’s funnier than that sounds, but poignant, too. The musical got great reviews and won some Tonys.

The Access for All sign refers to a WA ballot measure for LGBT rights.

And you can’t go to a city like Seattle and just see a musical without doing some other sightseeing.

Our weekend started out on a bad note when the taxi we’d reserved for 7a.m. Saturday to take us to the train station failed to appear. We probably would have gotten a taxi if we hadn’t needed a wheelchair van – apparently they don’t have very many of them and, even though I’d reserved it, someone else got to it first. We had to take a later train and to be sure we got to the station this time, we took the bus downtown – we probably should have done that in the first place!  Fortunately, our theater tickets were for the Sunday matinee so we didn’t miss out on that! And yes, the taxi company got an earful. What does the word ‘reserve’ mean to you??

Getting on the train was pretty easy - they have a mini-elevator that lifts me and the chair right into the car. Maneuvering in the car is a different story, as there isn't much room. It would have been better in business class, but since we had to take a different train, we had to go coach. 

I’d decided to splurge on a nice hotel in the heart of downtown. Almost everything was within easy wheelchair/walking distance. When we checked in, the clerk said they hoped it was OK that they’d upgraded us from a regular ADA room to a deluxe one, and to please let her know if it didn’t meet our needs. It was a corner room on the top floor with a great view of downtown, Mt. Rainier, and Elliot Bay. Yes, that’ll do! The room was huge and beautiful, just right for a much needed afternoon nap.

Sunday was a full day. We hopped (OK, I rolled) on the monorail which to my surprise and delight is fully accessible. I’m pretty sure the last time I was on the monorail was at the 1962 world’s fair. One nice thing about it, you can’t miss your stop, as there’s only one – it travels from downtown to the Seattle Center (right under the Space Needle) and back again. I had a moment of panic when we arrived and the door opened to a six-inch gap between the monorail car and the platform. But the conductor was there in a flash with a ramp for negotiating the gap.

Chihuly glass sculpture
We’d come to the Center to visit the Chihuly Museum of Glass. Wow. What a master artist! I was brought to tears a couple of times by the beauty. I’d only seen small pieces of his before, so to see the larger ones full sized in real life was overwhelming. I was so grateful for the ease of rolling through the museum. And the garden! (what could be better than Chihuly art? Chihuly art in nature). Maybe one day I’ll own one. (Does one ‘own’ art? Or is it simply borrowed?)

We’d planned to see Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” at the art museum after hearing such wonderful things about it. But a couple of reviews cautioned about not only the long lines to get in but the moving lights that could set off Laurie’s vertigo and a couple of ‘rooms’ that were viewed from a platform that I could get up to just fine, but would probably have to back down a ramp, a skill I’m not very comfortable with in the wheelchair. So we decided to nap instead.

Fun Home was fabulous. I think I loved it more than Laurie, but we both enjoyed it thoroughly. I was especially impressed with the youngsters in the show.

I had purchased wheelchair seating, which was great (and half price!) except the location in the theater was less than perfect. We were close to the front, but way over to the side, stage left – we missed some of the visuals, which is unfortunate. I don’t think we missed much, but it’s a mystery why they can’t make every seat with 100% view of what’s happening on stage.

We met a couple of friends for dinner after the show - another easy roll/walk from the hotel. It was a lovely way to end the night.


Monday morning: We couldn’t leave Seattle without doing the Pike Place Market, which was just a few blocks from our hotel. We were greeted by this enthusiastic crew of fishmongers. Even though it was crowded, it was pretty easy to get around, though there is a lot of uneven ground, especially just outside the main market area. I had to navigate pretty carefully on cobblestones and dirt berm.

One final stop before heading for the train station: Seattle Public Library, downtown branch – across the street from our hotel. What an amazing bit of architecture! Except for the colorful escalators, it’s completely accessible; in fact there’s a spiral ramp that goes on for five or six floors in a very gentle slope.  I’m often not fond of ultra-modern architecture, but this is a very impressive building. Maybe it’s the reflective surfaces that make it seem welcoming rather than cold and impersonal like some modern buildings do.

It was a jam-packed weekend and a roaring success of a trip. If it hadn’t been for the taxi fiasco, I’d give it a ten for accessibility success! And that part happened in Portland.

Next: an upcoming accessibility makeover of the cottage and a few odds and ends.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Part Two: A Year in the Life

Flight of stairs with Mt Everest superimposed
One thing I’ve learned as a disabled person is to get a very clear picture of what I’ll be up against going into a new space – for parties, meetings, vacations, whatever the occasion. My first question is always, “Is it accessible?” Then if the answer is “yes,” I always get clarifying information, because one person’s ‘accessible’ is another person’s ‘challenging’ or another’s ‘impossible,’ because people aren’t accustomed to being aware of steps, handrails, rough ground, slopes…. One or two stair steps can make a difference between my being able to attend and fully participate or to be excluded - or something in between. If a place has one or two steps, I can probably get in with help, but I'll need to use my walker to get around, which is difficult and painful and excruciatingly slow. A couple of times this year I went to five-day events that I knew were inaccessible. I borrowed a manual wheelchair thinking that would ease the amount I'd have to be on my feet. How the hell do people use these things??? For one thing, they're impossible on carpeting; and another, how am I supposed to wheel myself and carry my COFFEE into the living room? Let alone my breakfast?? That idea was abandoned quickly and I resorted back to the walker, which at least has a flat surface I can put necessities on - like my ass if I need to sit for a minute. 

Facilitators Kate and Sarah laughing
Kate Gray and Sarah Byrden, facilitators, signal the end of the session.
In April I took part in a writing retreat in the Columbia Gorge - five days of creative juiciness including a lot of stories and laughter that only a group of a dozen amazing, artistic women can conjure. When I signed up, of course I needed information about accessibility. One of the facilitators, the fabulous poet Kate Gray, not only got me complete information about the layout, she also made sure I got the master suite -which gave me plenty of room near where the gatherings took place - plus my own bathroom. I was able to immerse myself in writing  - something I haven't done for a long time. I was also able, with Kate's help, to come up with an idea for an ambitious writing project, which I'll write about later. By the end of the five days, I was feeling the pain and fatigue of being on my feet more than usual (after attempting the wheelchair), but the creative shot in the arm was good medicine for what ailed me.

Another five-day adventure, a trip to Manzanita (a wonderful little Oregon beach town) with Laurie's siblings, was similar in the accessibility challenges; again I tried the wheelchair. I don't know why I expected different results (insanity). But this part of the trip went a long way to compensate:

Terri on beach wheelchair
CJ, Liza, Richard, and Terri on the beach.
The Manzanita Visitor's Center loans out these beach chairs - no charge! - on a first come basis. We were able to use it two days, and my brother-in-law Richard was Chief Wheelchair Wrangler. I can't thank him enough for wheeling me up and down the beach - what a gift. And Manzanita for providing them. Donate generously if you have occasion to use them. I have loved the beach all my life, and it's been years since I've been able to be on it. We got down to the packed sand and traveled north a while, then I asked Richard to stop. I sat - just sat on the beach - and breathed and watched and listened and smelled. And wept.

Sometime during the summer I got an idea I just couldn't let go of - I need a solo retreat for a week or two. I have all but given up on traveling alone because of the challenge of loading and unloading all my STUFF (I do not travel light). But I have to do this for a couple of reasons: one is I need focused attention to work on the writing project I alluded to, and the other is the need to escape the chaos that's coming in the form of a remodel happening to the cottage soon (more on this later). And so began the search.

I spent hours over the course of a week or two looking on Airbnb and VRBO and Facebook for a place that met all my criteria:
  • Accessible - entrance, shower, doors
  • Ocean view - if I can't be on the beach, I need to see it
  • Relatively private and quiet
  • Allows dogs (though I've since decided to leave Liza at home)
  • Within a two-hour drive
I finally found a place in Oceanside, one of my favorite small towns that is mostly built on a terraced hillside. The view was spectacular, the house large and lovely. I was thrilled. But then -- on our way home from Manzanita, Laurie and I took a detour to Oceanside and I realized how terribly unfriendly to a wheelchair and scooter user the town and roads are. Scooting anywhere around town would have been impossible. I had to let it go, which was difficult. And in reality, it wasn't the perfect house.

So back to the drawing board. Another few days on the interwebs with some close calls...then it occurred to me to look in the Puget Sound area, around Olympia, my old stomping grounds. We had a lovely home on the water there when I was a kid, and I still pine for that area. After a few more close calls, I found The Perfect Place. Ten acres of woods, 250 feet of waterfront, a home that is big and gorgeous with lots of windows and that is fully accessible! and affordable! It's also very close to Hunter Point where I spent my formative years (see map below and some photos of the house; also see post from last year, September 4th, for photos of Hunter Point). I'll be there in three weeks, spending twelve luscious days - I'm chuffed! The owner told me she'd arrange for someone to help me unload when I arrive, and Laurie will take the train to Olympia on my last weekend there and will help me load up. How cool is that??? 

Map of rental house and Hunter Point
Green circle is rental house; red arrow is Hunter Point where I lived years ago.
The house, inlet, and land:

Inside of house

Since I can't transport my wheelchair in my current car, I'll be using the scooter inside the house.

Front yard, bulkhead, beach at high tide

The yard and bulkhead at high tide.

Looking across the inlet
Looking across the inlet.

I'm not sure I can get down ON the beach, but I can sit on the bulkhead and build a fire (if it's not too dry). If only I had a rowboat....

I have more to tell, including our trip to Seattle where all things accessible went right! But I've had to write this post twice - the first draft disappeared into the ether when I was close to finishing, so I'm ready to be done.  The next chapter should follow soon.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Year in the Life

Terri
Terri
Another year gone. Another year without a blog post. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to write about; on the contrary, I have so much I might break this up into three or four posts. And I’ll jump around the timeline, so if you’re OCD and can’t bear the thought of that, you should stop reading now!

++++++++++


When we last saw our intrepid crusader, she was lamenting the inability to travel back in time to re-live her childhood beach trips.

I celebrated my 67th birthday last week, though “celebrated” is a bit too grand for what really occurred. I “acknowledged” it or “gave it a nod.” What I did celebrate, quietly but joyfully, was being cancer-free for 16 years. (For those who are new to this blog, I discuss that part of my journey thoroughly in the first few posts.) Though cancer treatments have left me with some disability, I feel extremely blessed to have survived with most of the essential me intact.

Others in my circles have not been so fortunate. This year I’ve lost several friends to this fucking disease, and several more have been newly diagnosed. I’m angrier than ever now that environmental protections are being stripped by this insane administration when so clearly our high rate of cancer and auto-immune diseases results from the toxic mess we’ve made of our air and food and water.

“Wow,” you say, “it only took her two paragraphs to get into a T.R. (Trump rant)!” This year has been one of a lot of anger, disbelief, despair, and desperation, so I’m never very far away from a T.R. I am getting lots of fine muscle exercise: for my neck by vigorously shaking my head constantly; for my facial muscles from dropping my jaw and gritting my teeth (I haven’t done very well with holding my tongue); face-palming is good for circulation and eye-rolling for eyesight.

One of the more active roles I played this year was to coordinate mobility assistance for people with disabilities to participate in the Women’s March in January. I was able to procure some wheelchairs for people who wanted to march but weren’t able to walk the route (thanks to Kara Ford and to the MS Society). The event was difficult to manage and not everyone had their needs met, but those who did expressed so much gratitude that accessibility was considered and attempted. We might have been more successful if it hadn’t rained bucketloads and if we’d had smaller crowds – though I’m not complaining that around 100,000 people showed up to express their disapproval of this mockery of a president and to affirm the power of women!

And speaking of politics and the stripping of regulations, please pay attention to this bill before Congress and urge your Congress critters to vote ‘no’ on it.   ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (HR620)
“A new piece of federal legislation would delay consumers’ ability to hold businesses legally accountable for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — a move that some critics say could allow companies to never comply with the ADA in the first place.”
Let’s not make it even more difficult for wheelchair users and other disabled folks to access businesses.

Sidewalk with cracks and bumps
SE Salmon east of SE 37th
And, speaking of that! I’ve been on a quest to document areas in my neighborhood that are difficult – even dangerous – for wheelchairs and scooters (and strollers) to drive over because of severe bumps – usually caused by tree roots or degraded sidewalks – or the lack of curb cuts. I’m surprised how many there are in this progressive neighborhood – but it’s also an old neighborhood so I suppose that contributes to the problem. If I come to an intersection without curb cuts, sometimes I have to go an extra block to find a safe place to cross, or risk driving in the street. I’ve been traveling with my camera and when I encounter an obstacle, I photograph it and jot down the address or intersection. I’ll be sending my first batch to the city this week. I realize that fixing them is a budgetary concern, but so is paying out a whopping lawsuit if someone injures themselves on a poorly maintained sidewalk.

Here’s an update on my love/hate relationship with my power wheelchair. I love that it saves me so much pain and allows me to go places I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I love that it’s so maneuverable (turns on a dime!), it’s much easier to get on the bus and turn around. However, until we buy a van with a ramp, I can’t take the chair in the car. I hate that it’s so big and bulky; I still run into things, still catch things under the wheels and drag them around (like the bag that held my iPad that did not survive getting run over). I hate that all our walls and cupboards and doors have gouges from the chair scraping them.

And this: 
Kitchen carts crashed on floor
Oops.
(No humans or animals were injured in the making of this blog post. Kitchen utensils did not fare as well.)

Kwan Yin and trees and ferns covered with snow
Kwan Yin in the snow.
I had a taste of being completely housebound last winter when we had snow and ice on the ground for ten days. I couldn’t even safely go out on the porch for many days, and scooting anywhere was out of the question. It was a bit crazy-making. We still had toddlers coming four days a week, so I didn’t even have free reign of the house during the day.


I have much more to catch up on in the world of access, but you need a break and I need a nap. Next post, I’ll tell you about my writing retreats and project, a couple of wonderful trips we took (Seattle and Manzanita), a big remodel project in the cottage, and some new babies! And what about music you ask? Stay tuned. (See what I did there??)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

What I Didn't Do on My Summer Vacation



Learning to row; sisters and cousins

When I was a kid, we spent summer vacations at Hunter Point, an enchanted beach near Olympia on Puget Sound: pristine sandy shores; views of forested islands, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic mountain range; acres of woods to explore. From the moment we arrived to our tearful departure two weeks later, my sisters and I played on the beach or in the frigid water, swimming, rowing, water skiing. Beach fires in the evenings, fishing in the mornings, we lived by the rhythm of the tides.

Hunter Point cabins
The cabins were funky and old and smelled of mildew, the water tasted of iron, we cooked on a wood stove. The beds, when we slept inside, were thin mattresses on squeaky metal springs. None of that mattered, we were blissed out.  We ate Dungeness crab, caught on a rusty oven grate using bullheads for bait; buckets of butter clams, dug early in the morning on the far side of Squaxin Island; flounder and sole brought up from the kelp beds using sticks and string ; and the occasional trout or sea-run cutthroat, caught casting from shore. We rowed old wooden boats to uninhabited islands and explored their woods, creating stories about who might have lived in the crumbling cabins; we found treasures of broken bottles and old leather boots and collected endless jars of stones and shells.

On Squaxin Island with sisters and cousins.
Back home, after weeks of shaking out blankets and washing clothes, the sand and salt and wood smoke smell would finally disperse; but our memories of the beach remained indelible, never far from the surface.

So I was excited when my sister Nancy discovered a place on Orcas Island that had an ambience similar to Hunter Point: funky old cabins at a sandy beach’s edge, views of islands and expanses of water. Laurie and I planned our trip for months. I pored over old family photos and rummaged through memories of our many beach trips. I remembered collecting tiny shells and stones from the tideline, and digging clams and geoducks at low tide, the smell of beach fires, of early morning salt air. In retrospect, I wanted to relive those carefree times and foolishly dreamed that this trip would be all that.



North Beach, Orcas Island
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Reality: when we finally arrive at North Beach after an arduous journey, I am in such pain I can hardly move for the first couple of days; I’ve had to walk a lot more than I’m used to and it takes a toll (new appreciation for the wheelchair!). Reality: the funky old cabin has no comfortable place to sit, and the couch is so low the view out the window is obstructed. Reality: the ground is rough and rocky and my scooter won’t go beyond the bit of grass that stops twenty feet from the beach; there is a tall berm so I can’t even see the beach-proper, let alone be on it. Reality: there is a burn ban and we can’t have a beach fire or even one in the fireplace; no wood smoke fragrance will follow us home.

Reality: I am crippled and getting older and cannot relive my childhood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I want this trip to be more than a reminder of all I cannot do.This requires being in the moment, an acceptance of what is, and creating new ways of doing trips and vacations. And letting go of expectations. (The definition of expectations: planned disappointments.)


Laurie is content to read through her stack of books; she has no need to be out doing and going, she appreciates this utter silence and these long vacant hours for reading and resting. I am also mostly fine with this; yet I yearn for an evening on the beach, to sit on a blanket on the sand, watch the fire curl and flare, count shooting stars, tell ghost stories, sing silly songs, have sandy hot dogs. 
And s’more. 


Hunter Point: Dad teaches us to lay a beach fire
(Thanks for sending the old photos, Nancy!)


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gone to Ground


[Urban Dictionary: ‘gone to ground’ = To take evasive action in order to avoid further attention. To "lay low."]

My therapist suggested I write this post for a couple of reasons: 1) Writing is a good creative outlet for me and can serve as a catharsis (aka emotional dump); 2) it’s a way of letting my peeps know what’s going on with me without having to talk about me when I don’t feel up to talking about me (aka I’m sick of myself).

It’s become increasingly difficult for me to be in groups, to go to events, even to visit one-on-one or talk on the phone. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle: I don’t participate and so I don’t have anything interesting to talk about, and I don’t have anything interesting to talk about, so I don’t want to participate.

Pain and pain meds still conspire to keep my energy ebbing most days. I’m content to stay home and bake or watch cooking shows or do crossword puzzles or spend far too much time on Facebook watching Donald Trump melt down. I did get my studio arranged so that I can do some collaging, another good creative outlet. But I haven’t been spending much time with my music lately, just a bare minimum with my ensemble, Tapestry. It mystifies me why music feels like such a chore these days.

Choir rehearsals start again in a month, and I still need to decide if I’m going to sing this term. It feels daunting  – not just the physical difficulty of getting and being there, but it is an emotional drain as well and can include a lot of conversations about how I am and what I’ve been doing (see paragraph 2).

Don’t get me wrong – I love my friends and family and music pals to bits. I miss them. I am blessed to have such rich relationships. But guess what? When I’m not available those relationships suffer. I let people down by not responding to calls or emails, by not initiating contact, and I let myself down by not having the pleasure of their company, which always turns out to be so nourishing.
 
And then! I have to fight the shame and guilt, and another vicious cycle is unleashed.

Some of this is related to still getting used to being in a wheelchair 90% of my mobile hours. Some is the very real possibility that it may soon be 100%, as the nerve damage seems to still be progressing. There is ongoing grief about all that I (rather we: I have to include Laurie here) have given up: I would kill for a walk on the beach or a hike in the forest; I would love to dance again; to go out to dinner or a concert without having to worry if I’ll be able to access the venue.

When can I just ease into acceptance? This is the new normal after all – for now.

So I would ask this of you, my dear friends: When you see me, I may not want to converse much. Please don’t take it personally. I need to reboot my life, which means this hiatus may go on a while longer. If I want to talk about how I’m doing, I will, but know that I might decline. I’d rather hear about you, or commiserate about the train wreck of an election we’re witnessing - and maybe cheer a little about having a woman president!

Laurie and Liza and I will be spending a week on Orcas Island at the end of the month. I’m excited at the prospect of looking out over calming waters and of having no internet access for a week - unplugging will be good for me once I get over the shock of it! Sounds like a good recipe for a reboot. 


Monday, July 11, 2016

Life in the Chair



I can’t believe it’s been almost four months since the arrival of the wheelchair! It has been a time filled with adjustments, grief, exploration, humor, and some abatement of pain and fatigue.

It took me quite a while to get used to driving the thing.The joystick is much more sensitive than the scooter tiller, and I had to have it adjusted in the first weeks lest I go flying off the front porch. I still get frustrated when I bump into door frames or drag an electrical cord (and everything attached) when it accidentally gets caught in one of the six (!) wheels. Fortunately, no animals or people have been harmed during the training period.

Gwenlyn and Nan adding the bling.
I’ve had amazing help and support through this process. Laurie, of course, has been a gem, willing to shift things around in the house to accommodate the chair, making sure there are clear paths, strategizing with me around threshold ramps and doorway clearances. My pals Nan and Gwenlyn showed up on day two with all manner of trinkets and bling to decorate the chair - because I must go in style! My awesome sister Nancy flew down from Bellingham for the day to give me moral support and help to strategize some details (she’s so good at that!). It was as if my dear ones knew better than I what an emotional impact this change would have on me.

And it hasn’t been easy. It’s great to not have to expend so much energy trying to stay upright and use just about every muscle in my body to ambulate across the room. But it’s a constant reminder of the losses, the inability to go for a hike or walk on the beach. It takes a lot of planning just to get myself out to the cottage in the morning and back in the house at night. And I do have a huge footprint wherever I go (which is kind of ironic!).

I’ve had to learn some new body mechanics with this experience. Since I’m always sitting, I have to turn my body in odd ways to reach for items on counters and shelves, to open or close doors, to pick things up off the floor. The first few weeks I had irritating pain in my shoulder blades and finally figured out it was from all the reaching and twisting I was doing. I worked with my yoga therapist on some different ways of moving and reaching and it’s improved, though I still have twinges and need to be mindful every time I reach for something.

The biggest challenge in terms of maneuvering has been in the cottage. I bake a lot, so I have to get myself and my chair into some pretty tight spaces, between the fridge and the cupboards and the island. Turning in that small spot has become an exercise in patience, one at which I don’t often succeed. The chair has an elevator feature that brings the seat up an extra six inches or so, which is very helpful for working in the kitchen. I have become adept at using and modifying tools; I’m quite the expert with the little grabber tool - I’ve even taken it to the grocery store with me to retrieve things off of high shelves. I still use my cane, not so much for walking, but for grabbing doors and gates to open or shut them or for popping on or off a light switch.

I’ve been interested in the difference between the chair and my scooter when I’m out in public. I've discovered that I don’t like being out on the street in the chair – I feel much more vulnerable without that front piece protecting me, like a breast plate. Maybe I project the vulnerability, because I sense people react to me differently. The scooter is sporty, I can have a sense of play on it more so than with the chair, which feels more medical. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll have the chair for indoors and the scooter for out, which feels a bit bourgeoisie – not to mention the outside and inside walkers and a collection of canes strategically placed around the house. This is when I start feeling blessed and wonder and worry about those who don’t have access to all these wonderful tools.

And has the chair done for me what I hoped it would? For the most part, yes. I have a definite reduction of leg pain and fatigue. I still have quite a bit of neuropathic pain in my feet and legs, but most days it is better than what it was. My arthritic knees have gotten a rest! And that balance of movement I’ve been concerned about? Could be better, especially since my trainer has been out of commission for several weeks with an arm injury. But walking has become so difficult now, I’m concerned that the day is not too far off when I won’t be able to walk at all.

And then it’s back to the strategizing drawing board.



Saturday, March 26, 2016

Finding Balance

We are preparing for The Chair to arrive on Monday. After months of talking, planning, consulting, waiting, and waiting, it has been approved by Medicare, customized by Nu Motion, and will be delivered in two days.

We’re still dealing with some logistics – the front door threshold needs a small ramp, as does the cottage door. We’d been planning on having our handy man Tom build something for us, but he’s not available this week. Then I found some ready-made ramps in a catalog; I called around town and located just what we need, and I can get them by Monday. We also had to find out if the chair was compatible with the power lift in the car and arrange to have a piece attached to the new chair so the lift can, well, lift it.

And then there’s the emotional component. I am nervous. I’m feeling a little defeated. I’m sad that it’s come to this. AND I’m grateful I have this option available to me and that Medicare is picking up the tab for most of it. I’m sure I’ll be dealing with a lot of emotions over the next few months. But as my yoga therapist reminded me, it will allow me to conserve my energy for the things I love to do and the people I love to be with.

I’ve had a sore knee all week, the result of arthritis and possibly a strained ligament. I thought at first it was a torn meniscus, but since it’s improved somewhat, I doubt that it is. For a couple of days, though, walking was darn near impossible and I wished I’d had the chair right then.

One issue that is of concern having this chair is making sure I still get enough exercise to maintain muscle mass in my legs. I’ll still be walking some; I’ll still have my weekly sessions with my awesome body coach, Shawn, and with my yoga therapist, Leigh; I have an order for some PT sessions for my knee. The key, as in most things, is to find the right balance. A lot of leg movement causes the burning nerve pain that is so unpleasant; too little movement makes for weakened muscles and strain on my joints. It’s an ongoing challenge.

I remember when my dad was getting so crippled up and had a difficult time walking very far. His doctor refused to sign off on a scooter because he thought Dad wouldn’t get enough exercise if he relied on a scooter. I was furious. From my perspective, having a scooter opened up my world so much; without it, I would be housebound. It’s possible to find that balance.

Leigh suggested I do a ritual or ceremony before the scooter comes. I used to do a lot of that sort of thing around transitions; I was very much into the power of woo-woo. So I will be giving that some thought today and tomorrow. Wish me luck.