Friday, March 19, 2010

Status Update

This week, getting definitive answers on anything medical has been like pulling teeth. OK, maybe that's not the best choice of phrase. But that MRI that I had about a week ago... those things are a real carnival ride of fun, let me tell you... seems to have yielded less information than I at least had hoped, including answers to a couple of specific questions that should determine the course of my future treatment. I can't really even doctor-shop if I don't know a bit more specifically what the ailment is. So I'm pressing my primary care provider for assistance in making some decisions, and to my surprise and dismay, he's not returning my phone calls, which is unusual for him. To his credit, he arranged for an assistant to walk me through the prose summary of the MRI results. Some mostly predictable observations were made, and a couple of additional diagnostic avenues suggested... but no overall course of action was made clear.

Stella cleared most of the hallways in our home so that it is much easier to get around in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the bathroom is not among the straightforwardly accessible rooms, and that's a damned nuisance... I'll leave it to you to imagine the solutions. On the food prep front, I get to pretend I'm a seven-year-old boy: the counter-tops are at eye level, the back of the kitchen sink is almost impossible to reach, the dish cabinets may as well be on another planet, I can choose foods from only some parts of the freezer or refrigerator, and even a lot of the canned goods in the pantry are out of reach. We're gradually remedying these limitations, but it's awfully slow going. Once in a while, I work myself into a corner or tight spot, from which exit requires me to dismantle the wheelchair... releasing the footrests, removing the footrests, etc. (piling stuff in my lap) until the thing is narrow enough for the passage. It's a learning experience... an exhausting one.

And that's the news from Lake Misbegotten...

I realized after I posted this that I had not devoted nearly enough time to the hand (hands) of Stella in all this. All of a sudden, about two weeks ago, Stella found herself doing her usual full-time job, and another full-time-equivalent taking care of me. In addition to that, she also inherited most of my household chores on top of her own, because there are so many things that cannot be done by a non-driving, wheelchair-bound person. I was the grocery shopper of the family. No longer. I was the dishwasher-etc. guy (not often the cook). No longer. We combined efforts on the trash. No longer. And so on. It makes me feel like a lazy lout, but I have little choice in what I can and cannot do these days. Stella is a veritable saint for taking on all these tasks, and has persisted in doing them in the face of excessive job-related work and other fatiguing unavoidable responsibilities. If you ever wondered why I love Stella... well, this is just another set of reasons.


  1. Sorry you are having such a bad go Steve. Take it from someone with a lot of experience with wheelchairs. It will get easier.
    One suggestion. Have Stella get you a 'grabber'. Its about a two foot long thing with a pincer on one end and a hand operator on the other. You can find them at most drugstores. It will allow you to extend your reach quite a bit and solve a lot of the problems. My dad kept one with him all the time and it really helps. They are only a few bucks but a life saver in many situations.

  2. Fallenmonk, thanks, both for the encouragement and for the suggestion. I am happy to report that Stella has done exactly that, on her own initiative... this grabber is pretty much industrial-strength, unlike some I've seen before that tended to disintegrate under hard use. I keep it by my home-at-home (i.e., my easy chair in which I spend perhaps 20 hours a day) and I don't know what I'd do without it.

  3. The bathroom always seems to be the problem for wheelchair users...the door is too narrow or there isn't enough turning space when you get in.
    I'm saving some reading material for George to bring to you.

  4. We removed the door to the bathroom for my mother-in-law, but she was maneuvering with only a walker not a chair. The next development was the bedside toilet.

    Sorry you're having to tangle with these problems, Steve. Luckily they have all sorts of gadgets like the grabber thingie to help out.

    Sending good thoughts to you and wonderful Stella.

  5. I just emailed you but in case this is what gets through more quickly,I'll write again. Pat and I were shocked to hear that you were in a wheelchair. He's going to be in Houston next week and will come over to haul/move stuff/tear stuff up/anything you want him to do. Just tell us which days are good for you.



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