Have you ever thought you really hated something only to realize you actually love it? I know people who wouldn’t even taste certain foods as a child, but have found them to be their favorite foods as an adult. Well, my love/hate story has nothing at all to do with food.
The relationship started when I was a teenager. I was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. While many of my so-called friends no longer had time for me, a new friend came along. Everywhere I went this new friend came along. This friend was very supportive, but I didn’t want this friend. You see, this new friend was a set of wooden crutches. The pain was so bad and my right leg became so weak, that I couldn’t walk on it.
Looking back, I realize that as much as I hated those wooden crutches, they carried me everywhere I went. They helped me finish high school and start college. As much as I hated them, they were always there when I needed them.
I walked with crutches on an as needed basis for about six years. Then my RSD got to the point that I was needing them all the time. Wooden crutches became a thing of the past and I began walking with shiny silver-colored aluminum crutches. For the next ten to twelve years, I had to have new crutches every two years because the hole that adjusts the crutches to my height would wear out from use. Several pairs of old crutches now stand next to our washing machine…just in case someone else needs them. They will work fine for anyone who isn’t the same height as me. I gathered them together for a group photo…yes I believe I’ve had a little too much time on my hands.
After about twelve years, moving became complicated. My new-found friend was still willing to go with me and provide that much-needed support, but my legs didn’t want to cooperate. That was when I realized I didn’t hate my crutches. When my way of getting from point A to point B became a black aluminum wheelchair, I realized I didn’t hate my crutches as much as I once thought I did.
I spent all those years hating crutches and wishing I could get rid of them. Now I’m wishing I could walk on them again. I’m trying to build my leg strength so I can walk again. Currently I can walk about six feet with a shiny, silver-colored, aluminum walker. Six feet may sound like a short distance to everyone else, but for me it feels like running a marathon.
Each time I walk that short distance and collapse into a chair, I remind myself that we all crawled before we walked. It will just take time. With my gastroparesis and malnourishment, it’s probably going to take longer than I want it too, but I believe it will happen someday. No matter what life throws at me, I refuse to lose hope.
By the way, if you noticed the small blue dog bone hanging on the wheelchair…that’s my doggie bags. I’ve heard people I know refer to the take out containers at restaurants as doggie bags. Those of us living with gastroparesis need doggie bags any time we eat. Trash cans and commodes aren’t always readily available. Those small rolls of bags they make for disposing of baby diapers or doggie doo are just the right size to carry with me when I am out. I can cap them over my mouth, vomit in them, tie them up, and dump them in the nearest trash can. When I bought the dispenser, I had two choices…a dog bone or a fire hydrant. As for the walker bag, it’s a one of a kind. I made it using plastic canvas and yarn, both from the craft section at Wal-Mart.
Note: After posting this, I thought of something I had recently read. As I looked back at my Love/Hate image… yes I created that… I thought about an article I had read recently at TheMighty about asking personal questions about people’s disabilities. I appreciate the writer’s openness and honesty. The writer explained that someone had asked about her being to young to use a walker. The writer of the article said the “Fantasy-Me boldly said, “You’re too old to be asking rude questions.”” There have been times in life I would have probably said that if it had crossed my mind. While I made the crutches different sizes in my image to create letters, after finishing it, I was reminded that mobility devices come in all shapes and sizes. Chronic illnesses do not discriminate based on age. Crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs come in all sizes because they are for all ages. For those of us who need them, they are simply tools or modes of transportation. At 16, my classmates got cars… I got crutches… at least I could get from point A to point B on my own. No, I’ve not always liked my mobility aids, but I’m learning to accept them and love them for what they do for me.
All photos/images are from my personal collection and are not to be used without permission.