So, on Saturday, I was walking out of the grocery store, carrying a bag of groceries, when I felt something SNAP in the back of my left calf. And an unbelievable pain shot through my leg which nearly brought me to my knees. (This is not the "something every caregiver should do", in fact, I highly recommend you to not do this, if you can help it.)
Anyway, after I pulled my wits together, I limped painfully to The Bobmobile and went home. The next day, the pain in my leg was so intense, I could barely walk. And I knew, for my own sake, I needed to "baby" my leg. That's when I eyed Bob's power wheelchair and decided to put it to good use.
Now, I have driven Bob's wheelchair before -- to park it, to move it from his bed to the charging station, etc. And I thought I had the hang of it. But I've never relied on it for my mobility.
All day, on Sunday, I power-wheeled through the house doing my normal chores. I tell you, it was an eye-opening experiment. There I was, crashing into doorjambs, scraping up the woodwork, bouncing off the walls, dragging furniture and assorted sundry items in my wake. It's not as easy as it looks.
I learned that many things in the house which I thought were OK were not. It was like obstacles were jumping into my path. Like the footstool in the bedroom, which I ran into not once, not twice, but three times. And, truth-be-told, I really didn't think it was in the way when I placed it there. And the bed, which would be ALOT easier to get around if it were moved three inches to the left. And the door to the laundry room, which needs to be kept closed lest it catch on the back of the power chair and the free-standing medicine cabinet which got trapped between my rear wheels (not once, but twice) and needed to moved a few inches right.
Then there were things. I tell you, in my wake I dragged my purse (caught the strap on the rear wheel) and my shoes and a couple of books. (I need to be more careful where I leave these things.)
In addition to obstacles and things, I learned that just navigating the chair is not as easy as it looks. And our ramp in back is certainly not as easy to navigate as it looks. The turns are quite tricky. And if you stop the wheelchair on the ramp, the wheelchair keeps rolling! GAAAA!
I learned one must be super careful and really watch what you are doing even while you are "parked". I found this out the hard way when I reached for something and my left breast brushed the joystick and sent me slamming into the refrigerator. I call this "boob driving" for lack of a better term. And along with "boob driving" there was also "armpit driving" and "elbow driving" and my! I learned that joystick is touchy.
I also learned that everything -- and I mean everything -- takes a lot more time and is a lot more difficult in a wheelchair....
But, I guess, the biggest lesson I learned was to be more patient with Bob when he gets "stuck" in corners, slams into things or tools along sooooo slowly that it can be really irksome.....
And I think, every caregiver should do this. Jump on that wheelchair and spend an afternoon of chores in it. Heck, I think everybody should do this, caregiver or not! It will really open your eyes. It sure did mine.