A huge truck lumbered up to the front of the house. The driver jumped out and disappeared into the rear of the truck. I could hear some banging and thumping, and then after a few minutes, he emerged pushing a wheelchair with a portable commode perched precariously right on top of it. The only thing that was missing for this parade was an American flag flying from the top of it all! My first inclination was to shrivel up into a tiny ball and disappear. My second inclination was to yell, “IT’S NOT FOR ME! IT’S FOR MY HUSBAND!” Instead, I signed my name where he indicated, and thanked him. He jumped back into his truck and was gone, leaving the front sidewalk exposed for all to see. I decided laughing was better than crying in public, so I laughed as I maneuvered the chair with its important cargo balanced on top, to the front door.
I parked the wheelchair in the dining room, commode and all, right next to the new, shiny walker. There was no room in the spare bedroom. That’s where I had hidden the oxygen machine. My husband was going to freak out when he saw all this stuff! How in the world would I ever explain to him that each of these items will allow us to spend a little more time together, and ensure that neither one of us is injured in the process.
Dear God, please help my husband to see that he needs help and that it is not a sign of weakness.
Answer No. 1: My husband woke from his nap. As I helped him down the hallway, he spotted the wheelchair out of the corner of his eye. “Oh great. That will be perfect. Now I can go to the car show.” I can’t believe I just heard those words. Thank you, God. Thank you for bringing my husband to this realization and acceptance right at the right time!
Answer No. 2: We’re ready to go. Our first big outing in months. This is huge. We have prayed for this day, and for my husband to be able to go out. He has made it this far, and it looks like we’re going to make it.
I ask him to wait a moment while I put the wheelchair in the trunk of the car. Oh, man. It is really heavy. Tears well up in my eyes as this new discovery slaps me in the face. I remember everything I’ve ever learned. Bend your knees. Strengthen your core. Don’t lean forward. The wheelchair is perched half way in. Another Herculean effort and it’s in. Hands shaking, swallowing my tears back, I walk back into the house to tell my husband it’s time to go.
Dear God. I don’t know how I’m going to do this. Please help me.
Answer #3: “Use the valet service”, my husband suggests. Oh, thank God once more. The young, ten-year-old looking valet girl lifts the wheelchair out of the trunk as if it were a bag of potatoes and plops it open for me with a swift movement of her hands. She’s obviously done a few of these before.
As I start to push the chair down the sidewalk, I can feel the strain in my neck, shoulders, and small of my back. There is no way I’m going to disappoint him. He has been cooped up for months. One little outing. I can do this. I make a few circles with my neck, trying to make it relax. Strengthen the core. Keep my elbows in close to my body and push. He groans as I enter my first cross walk, bouncing down just slightly from the sidewalk’s surface. And then, it’s up hill. You can’t see the up hill angle with the naked eye. It’s that subtle. But it’s up hill. I lean into it and push with all my might. Did I mention it’s about 95 degrees out? It took me approximately 25 minutes to go the length of probably two city blocks.
Finally, we make it and spot a couple of his friends. I leave him there and go inside to look for a couple of cold drinks. Instead, I call my daughter and burst into tears. “I can’t do this. It’s just too much for me to do, and I’m afraid I’m going to throw my back out. I don’t know what to do!”
Dear God, please help me find the way.
Answer No. 4: My daughter gave me a moment to catch my breath, and then said: “Mom, I’m going to just say one thing.You don’t have to be a martyr. Get help.”
I got it. Finally. The following day, (this was a two-day car show), I asked for help from the get-go. I asked my husband to wait in the car while I found a friend to help get the wheelchair out of the car. I asked for help pushing the wheelchair. At the end of the day, our friend and his wife came up to us and he asked, “Would you like some help getting back to the car?” I looked at him. I took a deep breath, and I said, “Yes, that would be wonderful!” (For some of us, this is very hard to do!)
I got it. I realized that it was absolutely OK to ask for help. I am surrounded by people who want to help. I was being a martyr. By asking for help, both my husband and I managed to enjoy our outing and return home safe and sound!