All I been doing since my last post is stuff for Elon and sleeping! :-(
I did purchase a brand new laptop! I am excited! I don't buy new tech stuff so this is new territory for me.
I spent 48 hours, well most of it anyway, in a wheelchair. I had to write a 2 paged paper basically summarizing the experience. Classes don't start today till 1pm, but I got to Elon at 8 this morning so I could write my summary and focus on finishing my other papers that are due soon. Elon owns me, that's for sure! LOL!
Here is the rough draft I jotted down, I'll be touching it up after I finish touching up my paper on human donors. Oh, I've been to the human donor lab...I'll post about that later.
The wheelchair experience was physically exhausting. I was aware of my lack of upper body strength before, but this experience magnified my awareness even more. Utilizing a wheelchair is a physical workout. My thumbs, underarm area, buttocks, and knees gave me the most pain. During the experience I felt really stiff and occasionally needed to stand up and stretch my legs. Most people who are wheelchair bound are not able to just stand up and stretch when they want.
Emotionally the experience was frustrating, humbling, and enlightening. It was frustrating not getting to point A to B when I wanted to get there. It was a pain having to wake up earlier or start things earlier because I knew it would take me extra time to get somewhere or perform a certain activity. It was humbling to realize what awesome things people who are wheelchair bound are able to accomplish. For example, those that participate wheelchair sports! I complained about an uneven ramp and they are out there playing a competitive sport! The past 48 hours have been humbling also in that I have had to ask for a lot of help from my child and strangers. I tend to pride myself on being able to do things on my own and this experience started breaking down that pride. This experience was enlightening because I have encountered so many people willing to help me out. I was also enlightened to some perks of being in a wheelchair. One perk I experienced was getting into the movie theater for free. The downside to that perk was that I had to sit close to the screen due to the stadium seating, but I could deal with it.
Maneuvering the wheelchair around was the biggest physical obstacle I came across. It was annoying dealing with the cold metal wheel outdoors. The soft, plush carpet that I usually enjoy was a nuisance in the chair. The only gloves I owned that offered some resistance to the metal wheels were bulky and got in the way. Going up hills were a sure challenge. It was frustrating having to put extra effort into rolling over an object (rock, stick, etc) that was in the wheels path or the unevenness of the pavement, if there was pavement. It was tiresome having to roll a block down from my desired destination because that was where the ramp was located. At Chuck E. Cheese restaurant it was even more difficult to move around than when I would attend without the without the wheelchair. It was also disappointing because usually when I am at a location like Chuck E. Cheese, I like to walk around with my child and play some of the games with her and her friends. The location did not have sufficient space for me to move around. The children just made the space that was there even more confined. During the children’s party stayed in one place. One positive observation was that the bathrooms were wheelchair friendly.
Another physical obstacle was in the area of bathroom transfers and hygiene. My bathroom is rather small. I do not own a rolling chair to transfer into to gain access to my bathroom. I quickly learned that if I ever were to become wheelchair bound, assistance would be needed help take a proper bath/shower. Even if I had a bathroom that was large enough and had the physical strength to move myself around, if I did not have use of my legs I don’t know how I would wash my hind region properly without help.
One adaptation I had to make was with my sleeping arrangement. My bedroom is small, oddly shaped and my bed sits high. Even with rearranging my furniture, it would take a lot of work to maneuver the chair in a position to transfer into my bed. With a lot of distance from the bottom of the chair to the top of my bed someone would have to either pick me up or I would have to pull myself up onto the bed. With bed linens I imagine that task would be difficult, so I slept on the couch.
I recommend that those who are about to enter a wheelchair purchase a donut/pillow/something soft to sit , buy thin but sturdy gloves that will grip the metal wheel, place pride aside and ask for help, be patient, and to genuinely thank those that help or attempt to help you. Recommendations for a caregiver would to be patient and to ask if the person wants/needs help first before automatically helping them.