It’s not often that I follow through when I write that my next post will be about a certain topic, but here I am, following through after writing in my previous entry that my next post would be about a certain topic, namely my newest accessory.
Last Monday, my physiotherapist suggested that we go outside to evaluate my walking. I did pretty well, requiring a short rest but otherwise managing to trudge along, with my cane, at a reasonable pace. Back in the physio gym, she delivered some very welcome news: that she thinks that I’m ok to go for ten-minute walks by myself, as long as I take a seated break in the middle.
I was basking in the knowledge that I’d earned a little bit more independence when I went to my appointment with my occupational therapist later in the day. She told me that she’d been speaking with the physio, who’d let her know—yes, I’m about to recap, but only because I’m so proud—that I’d done really well on our walk and that I was OK to go for a ten-minute walk, broken up with a rest, alone.
“Yup!” I proudly replied.
And then the other shoe dropped.
“I was thinking, though,” she continued.*
Anticipating that something that I wouldn’t like was coming, I groaned. Only on the inside, of course.
“What would you do if you walked for five minutes and couldn’t find somewhere to sit down?”
I blurted out the first, in retrospect wrong, answer that came to mind: “Keep going?”
This is when she suggested that I get a walker. She explained that it would give me somewhere to rest mid-walk, as to not exhaust myself, and that it would increase my endurance and, in turn, my independence. Though not yet convinced, I agreed to think about it and talk to the physiotherapist, who could pair me with a walker, the next time I saw her.
And so, a few days later, I prepared myself for a talk that I didn’t really/really didn’t want to have.
However, my PT is an amazing, almost relentlessly encouraging woman, and she somehow made a convo about a thirty-one-year-old adding a walker to her mobility-aid mix seem more casual and natural than should probably be possible. We had a frank discussion about the pros and cons of a walker; after weighing them out, I decided that I’d go with her recommendation: try one for a week to see how much I actually took it out on the proverbial town before committing to renting or buying one myself.
Midway through my appointment, she brought me to the hospital’s equipment room so that I could survey the walker options available to me. She selected an appropriately tall one, adjusted it for me, and showed me how to operate it. We then practised around the hospital until she was satisfied that I had the hang of it. Cautiously and uncharacteristically open-minded, I was struck by how much more quickly I could get around, by how much steadier I felt, and by how much less fatigued I was at walk’s end. The basket was a nice bonus, too. Why carry your purse when you can push it along in front of you? (But seriously, why?)
I took the walker home with me, and I’ve used it, instead of my cane, a few times this week, though I’ve found myself held back by embarrassment more often than I’d care to admit. Tomorrow, I’ll return it to the hospital and begin deciding whether I want to take the plunge and acquire one of my very own, on a temporary basis. I wish that this were simply a matter of asking myself, “Would a walker benefit me?” and answering honestly; if that were the case, the solution would be obvious. Unfortunately, there’s so much more at play here—most of all, uncomfortable questions of identity that are difficult to confront.
I’ll just have to figure out how I want to prioritize things and go from there. Perhaps the real issue is framing: if I think about the situation positively, after all, this is likely the only four-wheeled “vehicle” I’ll have for a while, maybe ever. Thus, it might be worth embracing the opportunity to have my own ride. #silverlinings
*Disclaimer: this and all other dialogue is paraphrased, and remembered to the best of my abilities. Please don’t tell me you thought I’d recalled this word for word.