Sunday, May 3, 2009


Skip trusts me. She expects that I won't dump her out of her wheelchair, or hit her with the surehands body support as I swing it around into position before a lift, or otherwise cause her pain or damage. In fact, we have a running joke with the surehands lift. How close can I get it to her head without her flinching? She basically never does, because she just expects I have it under control.

Sometimes, though, the trust turns out to have been misplaced.

Skip probably started using a manual wheelchair for trips outside the house almost 20 years ago. We easily went more than 10 years from then before the first power chair came into our lives. So, I've been pushing her around for many years. In all that time, I've only dumped her twice.

The first came, ironically, just after we'd gone down a long ramp where I'd been talking about how amazing it was that she trusted me so completely while I pushed her around. Not 30 feet later, by our car, we hit a divot and over she went. A badly skinned knee was the only physical damage, fortunately. Skip was quite a bit more able then, so working together we were able to get her up off the ground and into the car without too much difficulty.

The second dumping happened about 5 years ago. It was the Friday closest to Valentine's Day and we decided to head into Boston to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants to have a romantic dinner. We took Skip's manual chair since it wasn't likely to be a long trip from car to restaurant. Despite the handicapped placard, we searched quite a while for a parking space on the street and finally found one a few blocks from the restaurant.

We got Skip loaded up in her chair and headed down the sidewalk towards our destination. It being February in Boston, there was snow on the ground but the sidewalk was clear. As we neared the point where we'd cross the street to get to the restaurant, I pushed the chair into a major crack in the sidewalk I didn't see and Skip went ass over teakettle, headfirst onto the cement. Oy!

I worked to get Skip sitting up and found she'd skinned her forehead and was bleeding a bit. Everything else seemed intact. My next worry was how to get her back into the wheelchair. I would not be able to lift her from ground to chair by myself, as she can no longer move her legs at all. A low flight of 3 steps at the entrance to an apartment building was about 5 or so feet away and I thought about the possibility of dragging her there to help get her into a position for transferring into the chair.

While I was standing there trying to figure out how to proceed, a petite woman walked up and asked if she could help. She said she was a physical therapist. While she stood there considering what to do, a young couple walked by. They got about 20 feet past us and then turned around and came back to see if they could help. The physical therapist positioned us around Skip with each of us in charge of a limb. We put the wheelchair behind Skip, the PT counted off "1-2-3" and we lifted her in unison and onto her chair! How great was that!

We thanked the couple and they went off on their way. The PT noticed Skip was bleeding and found some napkins in her coat pocket to help stop the flow. We thanked her profusely and she went on with her evening.

We were remarkably lucky on that early Friday evening in February to have 3 such generous samaritans there at the moment of our need.

We managed to get across the street and into the restaurant without further mishap. We settled in at the table and got some extra napkins to complete the clean up of her face. Skip was a bit shaken, but she's resilient and was able to recover her composure after a bit. As I recall, we ended up being able to salvage the evening with a lovely meal and wonderful Sangria. And, as you can imagine, I was extremely careful getting Skip back to the car to ensure no repeat.

It's true there haven't been many situations like this, but I am still amazed at Skip's complete trust and confidence. It wouldn't be so easy for me.


Diane J Standiford said...

LOL, you learn to trust complete strangers when the one closest to you is too weak to help at all. My partner has socked me, cut me, dropped me, all by accident of course and I still trust her completely (to always try her best) but we know the limitations. Yes, the kindness of strangers never stops amazing me.

awb said...

I think it's the kindness of strangers that keeps me going sometimes. Just when I want move to a mountain top and never see another human being, someone will do something exceedingly kind and ruin it for me!

I took Avonex injects for about 7 years, but couldn't do them myself, hit a nerve on one of the first ones and subsequently lost mine. I appreciated the wife taking over the duty, I knew she would do her best. I also knew I'd better be on my best behavior on shot day.


Cranky said...

Diane - I think you put it so well - trust to try her best. That must be why Skip trusts me - she knows I'm trying my best (well, most of the time).

Andy - Skip uses Copaxone (though it's clear she has progressive MS, it is possible she has SPMS, and it's usable for that group). I give her that shot every day. And, she uses Byetta 2x per day for Type II diabetes. So, I stick her 3x a day! She always has to be nice. :-)

awb said...

And I complain about my 3 Rebif shots a week, what a wuss! They tell me I too have SPMS, that's why things have begun to move, and accumulate so fast. I took Copaxone, but it didn't seem to work for me, oh bother. I do the 3 shots myself, so I don't need to be nice to anyone!


Cranky said...

The Copaxone doesn't seem to be doing anything. Skip was quite stable for a number of years when she first started to take it. Over the last few years, though, she's been progressing quickly, so perhaps its efficacy is short-lived. Of course, we have no idea what would have happened without the Copaxone.