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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adventures Were Had

September 9-12, 2011.

Adventure #1: Friday morning, I get a call from Chris at All in One letting me know all three boxes are on the UPS truck, due to arrive at the shop by 10:30 – can I get there soon for the lift installation? It’s the call I’ve been waiting for, since everything else for the weekend hinges on whether the scooter lift gets installed and whether I’ll spend the better part of the day at the shop while it’s getting installed. I go prepared: iPod, book, laptop, sandwich, water, cell phone and lists of calls to make. I know that they have a big screen TV in the waiting room and I also know that the US Open tennis tournament will be on for the duration. I have my choice of scooters, walkers and wheelchairs to get around the store and could even grab a nap in one of the big recliners if I want. Home sweet home. Well, these people have gotten enough of our money the last couple of months, we’ve paid our rent.

Around noon I realize that the Element is still in the front parking lot. Wtf? Chris explains that the regular UPS driver was off and the sub didn’t have the route down so absolutely set-your-watch-by-him punctual, so the parts didn’t arrive until 12:30. We discussed many options, one which involved leaving the Element and using one of their rental vans for the weekend. Since we're traveling to Eugene that evening, that option isn’t very appealing, but we start the paperwork. Then one of the techs comes up front to say he thinks he can get it done by the end of the day so, even though I had other places I was hoping to be, I tell him to do it.

My wonderful sister-in-law Bonnie is passing through town, so she stops in and takes me to lunch. What could have been a nerve-wracking, frustrating day turned out to be pretty darned pleasant. I was on my way home by 4:30, lift installed, ready to roll with my new scooter in back, hooked onto the new scooter lift.

Adventure #2. Saturday: Laurie is teaching a class all morning at Lane Community College in Eugene. We’ve stayed at an upscale Holiday Inn but had to leave early to get to the college, so no breakfast. We both assume there will be edibles at the classroom or in another building, but we come up pretty empty. I feel panicky, I need food and coffee, it’s going to be the hottest day of the year, there is loud construction all over the campus and I’m stuck here for a few hours with Liza in tow. I’m grumpy and snappy (and dopey and sleepy…) and wish I could just drive home, but I talk myself out a complete meltdown and scoot off with Liza to explore.

Click for larger view; more views on my photo blog:
I am not disappointed in what I find. There are gardens and many fantastic pieces of public art everywhere. The first sculpture I come across – Living Vessel by Devin Laurence Field - is a photographer’s wet dream: stainless steel polished to a mirror surface, shadows, reflections, cut-outs, an amazing juxtaposition to trees and water garden. I could spend hours right here, just photographing this piece. My mood has shifted completely and I spend the next few hours blissfully scooting around campus discovering more art and gardens. Liza is a perfect companion - she stops and starts with me over and over with no complaint. I end up with a few hundred photos, and the adventure ends just as the day is beginning to get unbearably hot.

Adventure #3. Monday morning, back home,. The battery indicator shows that the scooter is still about 80% charged so Liza and I take off on our long route scoot/walk. When we’re about half way to the park, the scooter slows slightly, then crawls, then comes to a stop. When I try to move it, it emits an annoying series of beeps that I’ve come to understand is scooter-speak for “you’re fucked.” I’m far enough away that walking home is impossible – I can only manage a block or so these days and I’m probably eight blocks away. It might as well be eight miles. I happen to be in the vicinity of a couple of young women with several children and two strollers, so I do one of the things I’ve come to do so well – ask for help. If I can get a ride home, I can bring the car back to pick up the scooter. One of the women lives several blocks away; she tells me it will take her “awhile” to walk home and load her kids in the car so they can come back to get me. I gratefully accept and tell her I’ll wait (as if I have a choice) and if I make any progress, I’ll still be on Lincoln Street. I watch the troop amble eastward, about as fast as you might expect, which at that moment seems like a herd of turtles. I begin to regret not taking the offer of help instead from a woman who came out of her house when she heard the beeping and saw the commotion.

I manage to limp the scooter another couple of blocks – if I turn it off and sit awhile, then turn it back on, I can get ten or twenty feet further along. I discover that, for some reason, it runs longer in reverse, which is somewhat confusing to Liza and probably pretty bizarre to any neighbors who may be watching. But I don’t want to take a chance on having it die in the middle of the street, so I hunker down and wait. And wait and wait. After what seems 45 minutes I decide I’ve been abandoned; I eke another block out of the scooter, then decide I can probably make it the few remaining blocks on foot. It’s not easy, and I’m on the verge of tears all the way home – tears of pain, of helplessness and frustration.

When I return with the car, Lessie, who lives nearby, comes out to see if I need help. Once again, the kindness of strangers touches me deeply, and my belief in humanity is restored. The scooter loading goes smoothly, considering I’ve only done this a couple of times, and Lessie and I talk about our dogs and decide a play date is in their future.

Of course, I'm wigged out about the new scooter not working, so I pore over the owner's manual. My best guess is that the deep cell battery has not acclimatized yet. It needs a few cycles of running and recharging to get it acclimated, so that's what we do.

I've had several scooter/walks (scwalks? squawks?) with no further adventures of this caliber. And I now take the cell phone with me, complete with neighbors' and taxi companies' numbers programmed in. It wouldn't be an adventure if we didn't learn from it.


Anne Bletcher said...

Terri, there is no other way to say it- "You're awesome" my friend!
Take good care,
Anne B.

dohlink said...

Adventure #3 is so painful to read, but not as much as you had to go thru. So discouraging about the women promising and never arriving...such dismissal of what is so crucial to another's life. God bless Liza for being there loyally w/ love and support and her ever adorable self. Yes, fully charged batteries - scooters and cell phones - an absolute must when mobility is an issue. It has been for me as well, the cell part, anyway. I now have a case that is also a charger that doubles cell battery time. Well worth the $, and not even that expensive.

Terri said...

Well the reality is, I don't know what was going on for the woman who didn't come back - maybe something came up, maybe it just takes that long to get her kids loaded, so I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Laura said...

I got a little pissed off at the woman in adventure #3, too. I'm amazed at your ability to have such a positive outlook.

But you know what part of this cracked me up? This part: I feel panicky, I need food and coffee

Really? YOU? I appreciate this adventure all the more knowing you accomplished it in such a severely deprived state!