Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pride Goeth Before a Walker

It is official.  I have attained geezer status.  The therapist I saw yesterday has ordered one of those handy, dandy walkers with four wheels that have a seat attached so I can sit if needed when I am out and about.  Well, crap!

I have had a misplaced sense of pride in the fact that I could continue to function without the aid of a cane or crutches or a walker.  Well, stick that pride on the back shelf and leave it there.  My therapy session yesterday was good in that I learned more about dealing with the problem of swollen legs and feet and cellulitis outbreaks than I had learned in two years with my family doctor.  I have another session scheduled for next week to learn the exercises and other methods for reducing the swelling.

But the blow to my pride came when, after extensive questioning, it became apparent that most of my mobility issues were due to osteoarthritis rather than the lower leg thing.  I have gotten to the point where standing for more than 10 minutes at a time has become painful.  This is not a problem within my apartment, but it is limiting when I go out.  Hence, the walker.

This turn of events is really a blow to my pride and my desire for continued independence.  After thinking about it overnight, I have come to the conclusion that I have two choices.

I can rant and rave and throw a hissy fit and blame the gods for visiting this misfortune on me.

Or...I can suck it up and learn to use the damn walker and learn the other things necessary to keep me here at home.

I have decided on the latter.  And with that in mind, I have spent the morning going through my apartment and making a list of those things that are now difficult for me and figuring out alternative ways to do them.

Having a shower has been challenging.  By the time I finish washing my hair, my hip joints and lower back are screaming at me for relief.  I already have one of those hand held shower heads installed.  And I am ordering a stool designed for the bath so I can sit when necessary.

I have always scrubbed my kitchen and bathroom floors on my hands and knees.  That is no longer happening.  So I am getting one of those janitorial type mops and buckets with the wringer attached.  Having spent several years cleaning office buildings, I am familiar with them and am confident they will work better for me than any other type of mop.  And I can attach one of those green scrubbies to that kind of mop for getting the stubborn dried on spills off the floors.

I have already dealt with the problem of lugging laundry up and down two flights of stairs by investing in a portable apartment sized washer and dryer.  Both work like a charm.  But the dryer sits on the floor.  The controls are beneath the dryer door.  That means there is a lot of bending over to put clothes in and take clothes out and to push the buttons for the proper settings.  I found that several of the big box stores carry those storage cubes that when two of them are set side by side, the combined size is perfect to hold the dryer up off the floor, making its use much easier for me.  Plus it will give me a handy place to store laundry supplies.

A simple thing like putting on socks can be difficult when a person doesn't bend so well any more.  Yesterday I was shown a device that I can slip a sock onto, slide my foot in, and using the handles on either side, pull the sock up.  I will be ordering one of those devices as well as some over-sized tongs for picking up things from the floor that are hard to reach.  In addition, any shoes I buy once I can wear shoes again, will be the slip-on variety.

The purpose of this post is not to encourage sympathy.  I don't feel sorry for myself, so nobody else should even entertain the notion of feeling sorry for me.  I just won't have it.

The purpose of this post is to encourage those who may be dealing with similar life-changing circumstances.  I really hate having to admit that I need a walker to be able to enjoy being outdoors again.  And I hate having to change the way I do things due to limitations.  But there it is.  Old age ain't no picnic.  Some sail through without having to deal with aches and pains and others don't.  For those that don't, we need to remember that even though there are adjustments to be made, life is still grand.  And well worth living.

My youngest son, David, took me to my appointment yesterday.  On the way home I remarked to him that I had always said I wanted to live long enough to be a problem to my children and that I may have reached that goal.  (That has been a standing family joke for years.)  His response was that he didn't think we had reached that time just yet.  He said he didn't care how big a pain in the whatever I was, they still wanted me here with them.

God bless those kids.


  1. Well OK, everything you have listed, I myself have just started doing
    also because of new limitations. You do have a benefit that I don't have though, a son nearby who can help. Mine are over 300 miles away, and I have no help. That mop and bucket with the wringer will come
    in handy when the power goes out and stays out. You can wash the clothes by hand, and run them through the wringer to get more water out than wringing them by hand. That item is still on my list.

  2. Anon...I realize just how fortunate I am to have all four of my adult children living within 50 miles of my home. They are a huge help to me when I need their help. Life for me would be much more difficult without them.

    I like the idea of the mop bucket and wringer for laundry in a power out situation. Makes perfect sense. Might be a good idea to buy one of those wooden clothes drying racks as well. I would love to hear any other ideas you come up with to make life easier to cope with when faced with limitations.

  3. I'm glad that you're taking advantage of convenient devices to maintain your independence. I'm a family doc who has had to encourage my own mother to do the same.
    One thing to consider instead of those janitorial rigs (which would take up a lot of your limited space -- I love your organizational updates; they're inspiring to me), is the Rubbermaid version of the stiffer wet jet. The pad on it is microfiber and machine washable (I rinse mine first, given 3 kids, 2 cats and a dog), and you can fill the reservoir with whatever cleaner you want to use. I do both sealed hardwood and linoleum, so I just use dilute white vinegar. I think mine was about $25 on Amazon, so cheaper than just the wringer bucket alone. And you can buy extra pads.


  4. Congratulations on the walker! Yeah, I know, I'm a home care nurse so I'm always yakking at folks to use their walker, but the reason I do is because I read somewhere the most common reason for being admitted to a nursing home is a fractured hip from falling. Broken bones hurt way more and for far longer than sore pride.
    These decisions are not fun to make, but better for you to make them yourself then to be forced into them by someone else.
    It is a hard decision to make and I'm proud that you made it, and posted about it to help some others think about these things. If you are walking around your home by hanging onto the walls or the furniture, it's time to get a walker.
    Kicking the soap box into the corner :)


  5. Robin...Thank you so much for your comment. It is reassuring to hear from a family doc that I am headed in the right direction with this. If your mother is anything like me---we hate to admit that we need help with anything. We have been in control of our own destinies for so long that it is tough to hand over even some of the reins to our children. :)

    As far as the mop situation goes - I had one of those electric steam floor cleaners (can't recall the brand) that used microfiber pads. It worked really well for about a year, at which time it died. The janitorial rig will last longer than I will. There are no electrical parts to go bad. It can also be used to wring water out of laundry should it be necessary to wash clothes by hand. And it will fit behind my bathroom door where the laundry basket once sat. With the purchase of my washer and dryer, I just put any dirty laundry into the washer and wash whenever there are enough clothes for a load, so that space is free. I appreciate hearing about the wet jet, but I think I will stick with the bucket rig that is less likely to break down.

    Thanks for stopping by and thanks again for your comment.

  6. This isn't electric, and I don't know how to hyperlink:


  7. Thank you, Suz...I am not at the point where I need to hang onto furniture - yet! It is more a matter of arthritic pain in hip joints and lower back if I am on my feet for more than 10 minutes. That keeps me from going for walks in the warmer months and from enjoying the great outdoors. Winter here is all about ice and snow, so I rarely go out then anyway. I always figured if I slipped, fell and broke a hip, it was probably all over except for the crying.

    Both of my parents lived out their last years in a small nursing home in northern MN. They received excellent care. But the notion of going to a nursing home is my worst nightmare. You see, I am sort of an ornery cuss. I don't play well with others. I don't want anyone telling me when to get up in the morning or when to go to bed at night. I eat when I want, stay up all night reading if I want, do pretty much whatever I want. And I like it that way.

    So even if it is hard to come to terms with the fact that I need help including help navigating, it is better to accept my limitations and work on the solutions to the problems. That will keep me in my own home longer than fighting the inevitable. I really appreciate your comment and support, especially coming from you who work with folks like me on a daily basis. It is much appreciated.

    You can drag your soapbox out from its corner here any time you like. :)

  8. Robin...Thanks so much for the link. I want to stay away from those electric floor cleaner type things that can develop problems faster than non-electric. I will most definitely check it out. Might be just the thing for me.

  9. Welcome to old age...LOL. now you understand the coffee in the kitchen. Its faster to get to then sitting in a different room for coffee and talk..:) After my OJI I too had to use a walker for a bit I understand that at some point I will need a cane. When we run to WalMart I try and plan a course through the store to cut down on walking. Later today I will be in pain from too much time on my feet, but such is life. The biggest fear in all of us is getting older. A gent here in town uses a walker, moves pretty good. I see him at the market twice a day. Oh I heard he is in his 90's. Don't tell him he's too old, he still drives his little pick up too. I too have my kids close it helps

  10. you will find the rollator very useful. you can sit on it and get to the counter and the table after the pain from standing overtakes you. can get a lot done that way.
    i don't have to use a walker anymore since the hip surgery in april, but i keep a cane in the car.
    i remember when stores had wooden floors, so much easier than the
    concrete on the feet.
    it will be good to use the rollator for 'walks' by where the russian lady has her garden. you sit and move your feet to roll along. then switch to walk when you feel like it.
    you get exercise but more comfortably.
    it is a great invention.

  11. Thanks for posting this. I appreciate the honesty in your writings. And, I so get the limitations. My health problems started in my mid-50s and continue. Too young for retirement but too sick to work any more. It sucks - sorry for the wording but I couldn't honestly come up with a better word.

    At the same time, the limitations are the new reality for many of us. Most days I do without the pity-pot. But every now and then I'm in it. But today is a good day emotionally and for that I'm grateful.

    My biggest fear right now is not old age but being alone. I'm so happy for you that you have family nearby. That's not the case for me. Also my reality, no need for any pity, thank-you very much.
    Cheering you on. SJ in Vancouver

  12. Rob...Yep, I get the coffee in the kitchen thing. :)
    I don't mind the getting old part considering the alternatives, but the frustrations of limitations tend to drive me a little mad. Then I am reminded that there are others in far worse shape than me, and it doesn't seem so bad. My mother was so badly crippled by arthritis that she lived in a nursing home while still in her late 50's. So all things considered, I am pretty lucky.

  13. deborah...Now that I have come to terms with the fact that I am no longer 30 years of age and I simply can not carry on as I once did, I am looking forward to anything that will enable me to get out and enjoy the outdoors again. Winters are so bitter here that I rarely go out anyway, but I look forward to visiting the Babushka's and their little garden in the spring.

  14. You are welcome, SJ...I really debated with myself over this post. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I am sitting here wallowing in self-pity, for that isn't the case (although I do admit to having my moments, however brief). I decided to go ahead and post in the hope that it might help others in a similar situation.

    You are right - it sucks - and there is no better word for it. Sometimes I think the limitations are harder to take than the disease. Especially for someone who is used to an active lifestyle.

    I gotta tell you a little story about my early years. My Dad once told me that saying the words "you can't" to me was kind of like waving a red cape in front of a bull. He would tell me that I couldn't help him paint the house because it was too hard. My reaction was, "Oh, Yeah? Watch me." Same with running the tiller in the garden. Same with changing a tire on the car. In later years he said he got more work out of me by telling me I couldn't than if he had told me I had to! I think that attitude is the main reason limitations still rankle me somewhat. :)

    I don't fear old age - I'm already there. Nursing home life is my personal terror, but luckily I have family to help when needed, so maybe I can keep the terror at bay. Thanks for being in my cheering section. I want you to know that so often your comments here have done much to lift my mood. And know that this old lady in this little apartment in MN, cheers you on as well.

  15. Good work, Mom. Everything's a matter of attitude and perspective and you clearly still have all your smarts and wits plus some. That walker won't slow you down too much. Whether you know it or not, you are still inspiring the youngsters and providing a fine role model.

    Put a million miles on it and respect yourself. You've earned it!


  16. Glen...Has anyone ever told you that you are a sweetheart? Thanks for your kind words. I'm not so sure about the smarts and wits. Sometimes I think it is pure orneriness that motivates me. :)

    The million mile goal will have to commence in the spring. My idea of getting through our ice and snow covered winters is rocking chair, a good murder mystery, hot coffee and green fuzzy blanket! But come spring, watch out. There are in my neighborhood walking paths along the river to navigate, restaurants that serve a homemade breakfast to die for and the best part, a lady in the next block who lets me pick as many lilacs as I can carry. Haven't been able to do any of those for a couple of years. Life just keeps getting better!

  17. Well, that's not good news. Still, you just have to make do. (I almost said take it in stride." There's things I can't do anymore that I wish I could, but there's not a lot I can do about it. We just have to keep on going day by day and not let this kind of thing make you depressed.

  18. I was thinking about Deborah's comment about the cane. If you can find a wooden one that will hang off the walker but won't drag or otherwise be in the way when you're out and about, you have an instant club.... I don't think they can take it away from you due to the "handicapped" laws.

    If you can still handle that firearm of yours, then you can still swing that cane and mean business if needed.

    Take care.

  19. Harry...You can say "take it in stride." That's funny! I went through about 10 minutes of pity or anger or whatever, and then decided that was just a waste of time and energy. There are things I can't do any more, but there are lots of things I can still accomplish. It just takes longer now. Your advice is good - take it day by day. I just don't have the time or patience to let depression sneak in. :)

  20. Matt...The idea about the cane is a good one. I will see if I can find one that will work. The thought had crossed my mind that a gray-haired old woman pushing a walker would be a target, but we oldies are a sneaky bunch. We have been around long enough to come up with a trick or two in the way of self preservation and protection.

    And I have made it known that I want a walker with a cup holder and one of those little bicycle horns - the kind with the rubber bulb on the end that when pushed makes an annoying "honk." My kids just laughed at me - I don't know why. :)

  21. I know. Getting old is not for the timid of heart. The walker will really help, believe me. It's not worth it not to use it. It is hard getting old. You cannot do all the things you used to. You have to depend on others for help, especially as a man it is hard to except help.

    Clifford @ ETCPads