My 2022 is so bright I need to wear shades…

I do not set New Year resolutions; however, I have ideas and goals to develop and put into place. Of course, here we are in 2022, and I hope it will be a good turnaround year. The last two years have treated me exceptionally poorly physically, mentally, and emotionally. This thought means my new goal for this lap of the Earth around the Sun is to get my body, mind, and spirit back on the right track. I plan to accomplish this in various ways to put my chi back in line with the universe by using meditation, exercise, and bettering my sleep. First, here is a list of some of the positive things I will bring into 2022 as we continue rolling through time. 

There are a plethora of health benefits to the simple act of standing. For this reason, the VA bought me a power-standing wheelchair so that two to three times per week, I can stand to reap these perpendicular positioning perks. My daily driver wheelchair is still my manual title ZRA, which allows me to build my arm strength while moving around my house and public with ease. The VA hired a Physical Therapy company to come to my house and teach me to transfer into the chair independently. It helped me some, but I still could not comfortably nor safely slide into this chair without help. At that point, the VA hired a company to come to my house three times a week and aid me in this elevated endeavor of mine. serving my country has allowed me to receive the Veteran benefits that have been extremely valuable in my life. These perks have helped me in ways I never considered plausible; although I am now in a place physically, I never imagined possible.

As for my daily driver, it is a ZRA manual wheelchair, I have a date to evaluate me for a new Tilite chariot. My current chariot is six years old, and I often hear the squeaky bolts and joints yelling at each other to hold tight with all their might. Whenever my chair turns, stops, or rides over even a slightly bumpy road, everything is screaming and straining to stay together. The first thing in the morning, when I get in my chair, there is a loud bolt pop shouting in a thick New York accent, hey, I’m sleeping over here! In addition, the seat pan is what they call a sling seat pan and has sagged, making sitting square in the chair an uncomfortable undertaking. The seat pan and cushion also need to be longer to support my thighs, positioning my feet correctly and more comfortably on the footrest. Finally, the body ages and changes over time, and so does machinery, requiring a significant overhaul or a simple replacement.

The aide helps me around the house, assisting me with cleaning and putting groceries away. More importantly, she aids me by cooking foods I would otherwise not cook for myself, expanding the list of foods I get to enjoy. Unfortunately, my muscles fatigue quickly, meaning I cannot spend much time preparing food, making the variety of food that I produce myself extremely limited. Nevertheless, I need to avoid TV dinners, and I have learned a few minor tricks to cook food simply and healthy. My goal for 2022 is to continue learning to cook for myself and have the aide cook occasionally. However, the bad part about the aide is that there is no consistency in punctuality or even showing up, making everything a coin toss, whether or not it will happen.

Since I had to stop swimming at the pool because of the pandemic, I have lost much muscle mass and desire to return ASAP to this advantageous aquatic activity. I hope the aide who helps me with the power chair can also help me return to the pool. Happily, she has already said she would gladly assist in the water, so it is now up to the VA to pay. However, my daily living is drowning in difficulty and daunting dilemmas because of losing my swimming, stamina, and strength. Maybe I am jumping the gun a little, but I have the swim instructor who taught me these salubrious swim skills lined up to help me get comfortable in the water again once I return. Of course, everything depends on punctuality and whether or not the aide will even show up; so far, I would give her a low grade.

Lastly, I have had ten of my blog entries published in a national magazine, which feels extremely good, and hopefully, it added a few extra readers to my blog. In addition, several published authors and a few writers have told me my blog is well written and made various other positive comments. One author wants to help me turn my writings into a book, but I continually question it as a lengthy and laborious journey. So we will see where life takes me and my blog over the year 2022 and beyond because experiencing life gives me something to write about, so I need to get out of this house.

There are 168 hours in a week, and I have company for a total of six hours a week, if I am lucky. Being locked in a house with no socialization can simply drive a person mad. So this idea of a desire to avoid continued loneliness means it is time to get back to the pool and life in general as soon as possible. So this is my final set of goals for the new year: get back to the pool and my exercise regimen, and if I am lucky, maybe even date and find someone before I hit fifty.

The future depends on what we do in the present.

Call me maybe…

Typically, if a person is in an accident and becomes paralyzed, I understand they can receive a significant amount of wheelchair training. However, you do not receive this trundle training if someone becomes wheelchair dependent because of other medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. For example, I became wheelchair-bound and received a wheelchair with no education, although I have a resilient personality which helped immensely. I am not sure why this wheelchair instruction is not mandatory for all new wheelchair users, as it is information severely needed to keep blunders and bruises to a minimum.

My wheelchair life, specifically speaking transfers, has been complex, as this movement became a coin toss starting a year into the pandemic. When I pulled up to do a seat switch, it was always a Crapshoot of maybe I would make it and maybe not. We have all heard the phrase Once Bitten Twice Shy, which is why I have become much more nervous about transfers after I have fallen several times. I get in my head just before a transfer and think the chance of success is a tiny number like the ones scientists use when weighing atoms. The more I hesitate when transferring, the more fearful I become, and my muscles become shakier, creating more of a chance of falling, making me more afraid. This vicious cycle of terror, hesitation, and muscle agitation turns into torturous trepidation, which causes more falls.

Before physical therapy, the transfer from my wheelchair to bed began going wrong after a year into the pandemic. The memory of falling and then calling the fire department to pick me up caused dread deep within, as they had better things to do than pick some guy up off the floor. I had fallen twice in the past week, and that frightening flashback caused a terror shiver that started at the base of my spine and, like an insidious spider, crawled all the way up to my brain stem, all eight legs caressing my fear factor. I stared for five, eight, and then ten minutes at this small gap that I had to do a rump jump over, not wanting to fall and be revisited by firefighters like Ghosts of Christmas Past.

I could feel my muscles continuously twitch as I sat on the edge of my wheelchair filled with angst and contemplated this transfer onto the bed. The remembrance of the fire department picking me up caused more hesitation and trepidation, forcing this seat switch to take entirely too long and keeping my tired body away from my desired pillow. You truly cannot comprehend just how badly I did not want to make that triple-digit call for rescue, although one could say that is the price of living independently. Finally, after a thirty-minute game of chicken between me and the gap between my bed and wheelchair, I lept using my foot as a fulcrum point and landed safely. This experience let me know, although, once again, it was a close call, I had not lost the battle to gravity that night, avoiding that dreaded call for help.

The physical therapist rang the doorbell, and when I answered, he introduced himself to me as Shaw, explaining it was his nickname. I led him to the couch where he sat, put his bag down, and took my vitals while I detailed the issues with which I needed help. I told him the most critical issue was my serious struggle with safely transferring to the bed and avoiding a forced floor introduction. He shared that he usually recommends the slide board for most transfers to help prevent any unexpected and catastrophic collapses. I have received several transfer boards in the past, but no one has ever shown me how to use them correctly, which would have helped immensely.

When we were next to my bed, I began showing him how I transfer, and he quickly pointed out my movements that were, in his words, very risky. He worked with me for another twenty minutes, showing me the proper positioning for the board and the angle and alignment for my chair. The bed is also several inches taller than the wheelchair, meaning as I slide up on the board, I get closer to the bed, and my weight pushes the mattress down for a smooth transition. Finally, he reminded me that the chair needs to be angled about 45 degrees from the bed, keeping the back of the chair farther away, leaving a gap for the slide board to span. It was an excellent education that they should give early in someone’s wheelchair life to put into practice and save the calls to the fire department for actual fires.

Over the next few weeks, Shaw guided me on correct transfers from all three important places and even a few less significant spots for seat shifts. Most of my transfers happen either in the morning when I get ready for the day or at nighttime preparing for bed. Since I have learned this transfer trick, I have had only one unsuccessful event, and I merely slid on the board back down to my chair. This action was not a concern, as I had a slide board under my derriere the entire time and a forced floor landing was highly improbable.

A positive attitude makes the struggles manageable.