Yesterday morning, I spent two hours at the hair salon getting my perm redone. For the amount of time taken, the result looks lovely (and bonus points to me as having no sense of smell fully pays off in these instances.) Nearing the end, I had twenty minutes of waiting, during which the solution needed to soak into my hair with the curlers still set in place before my stylist removed them. I asked the lady sitting next to me if she could pass me a People magazine…just something to glance at as I waited. “Pointless readings,” I tell myself, but I didn’t read much anyway as I didn’t have my glasses on at that moment.
I did happen to find one good article about a girl my age who lives with Down Syndrome. As I skimmed the blurry article, I was impressed by her courage not to let the disease define her; she had even gone to court to declare her independence rights on choosing where to live. I don’t know her name or the edition of the People Magazine for quotes, but I do remember reading a few sentences where she states that she is an independent person–she just might need a little help sometimes. I had two thoughts: First, I fully relate to what she is saying. She and I may struggle with vastly different physical limitations, but there is a common understanding both in emotional and mental thoughts of what it means for independent living. And second, whether you struggle physically or not, don’t we all have moments where we might just need a little help? It is our human nature; it keeps us humble.
When I first moved back in my parent’s house, I thought I was losing all independence. It took time for me to process that I never lost my independence; living at home ensures that I can live independently. Yet, I am surrounded by family who can help if I just might need it: opening zip lock bags or medicine bottles if Walgreens places the lids in the wrong direction; putting on my compression stocking or clipping my toe nails; carrying my groceries up the stairs or my full laundry basket to the washer. Or in the event that I have car problems, need to get Muffy’s food from the patio but it is dark outside, I accidentally break a dish while loading/unloading the dishwasher…help is there as well. It is safe independent living.
To maintain continual safe independence–while at home–I now wear a Lifeline necklace. Wearing this necklace does not change any part of how I currently live. I still get up in the mornings on my own; bathe and dress on my own; make myself meals and, of course, the morning pot of coffee; I can still write (chicken scratches), type (finger poke), text, and paint; I still climb up and down the stairs, even if it is a slow one-step-at-a-time; and, I still drive, run errands or go to church on my own as long as I have the energy and weather permits me to do so. The Lifeline’s purpose is to inform others if I needed help–the communication is accurate and efficient. The necklace works only at my home (garage, basement too) and outside property. Once I leave the driveway, I am too far from the sensor for any signals to send. However, being out in public, my chances of being all alone are quite slim. 😉
When we first set the Lifeline in place, I was confused as to how I, personally, talk with the personnel over the communicator (set up in my parents room) as I am Deaf. I really do nothing, except push the button on my necklace if I need assistance. The personnel from Lifeline contacts my parents through the communicator and notifies them that my button was pressed, so they can check on me. If no one answers that machine call, they immediately start calling my emergency contact numbers in order; my mom’s cell phone is first, etc. In the case I fall and I am unresponsive, the sensor on my necklace cues in on this and Lifeline automatically sends emergency medical help. It is safe independent living.
Lifeline is unlike a regular 911 emergency contact. It doesn’t have to take a catastrophe of epic proportions for me to push my button for assistance. It can be something even as simple as accidentally breaking glassware while doing the dishes and not being able to safely step away from the glass; if Mom is outside working in her garden, how would she know I needed help? The necklace is also waterproof, so I wear it in the shower. It is only by God’s goodness and perfect timing that my parents were still at home on that Sunday morning when the first blood clot hit as I was in the shower. Because I was hyperventilating and had my left arm slung through the handle on the shower wall in order to stand up straight, the only way I could contact for help was to bang my right fist against the shower wall. At that time, I didn’t even think it was being heard. After a few solid bangs, my mom finally decided to check in on me. You can see the importance of having this in place as I continue to live independently.
Although Lifeline is often aimed in advertising for the elderly, I know for myself–and the family–wearing the necklace puts ease in the mind of constant “What if’s?” It reminds me of my times in prayer. I don’t have to wait for epic catastrophes in order to present my requests to God. Prayer replaces the “What if’s?” with constant peace.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6 ESV