Tag Archives: memories

The Room at the Inn

I’m not much help in preparing the bedroom upstairs for my friends visit this weekend. The main problem is that I just can’t get up the stairs…every step says, “Caution!” Like a trail of red flags, so I just don’t enter. Even if I got upstairs, I am useless in changing sheets; So I resolved to help with any needs for cleaning or preparing either on the main floor or the basement (where we will be using my painting studio to decorate with fabric paints the t-shirts for Sunday’s NF Walk.) ūüôā

With thoughts of vacation, I couldn’t help but giggle in memory of my hotel experience from the Colorado trip two weeks ago. Last Fall, when I was having weekly PT and OT sessions, my Occupational therapist and I discussed a wide variety of ideas to supplement my needs in the areas where I was physically struggling to perform the daily tasks. She also helped me be aware of resources available for when in time I needed more help. Most of the “when in time” resources seemed irrelevant at the moment, since my physical body overall was doing pretty well.

“When in time” moments started catching up to me around February–I think the first being the shower chair. At first I was embarrassed–even to show people my room was enough, because with the bathroom door open, you can see the raised toilet seat handles. Not your typical bathroom. But I quickly dismissed this notion of blush, because it is when I realized that being independent in this area, I saw a blessing.

My OT mentioned a few other future reference ideas, one being the handicap room in hotels. At that time, I had only purchased the walker for my PT exercises as balancing in my Ankle FootDrop braces was near impossible. Even in February, I only used my cane when I left the house. Now the use of my walker is 99%. I even purchased a second walker to keep for house/back patio/basement use, while the older one is left in the garage for when I leave. The plan has worked smoothly, I think.

There is a first time for everything and the Colorado trip held no exceptions. There was the new way I checked through security, pushed in a wheel chair and now the hotel room. Mom and Dad helped reserve a handicap room, but before one gets to their room, they must get in the hotel. We pull in the parking lot and see the main lobby doors cut off in entrance by the yellow “Caution” tape. Looked more like a crime scene from Law and Order episodes. Mom goes to check-in using the only other door on the building,which is the back entrance.

The room itself is quite nice. The only significant difference I noted between this labeled room and a regular room was the bathroom. The doorway allowed room for a walker or wheelchair to easily enter and maneuver around. There was a handle attached to the wall by the toilet, along with a telephone. I suppose if you fall off the toilet, the assumption is that you can reach the telephone to call for help. The shower “chair” was what made the whole first-use-of-handicap-room experience worth it (in memories sake)!

In conquering difficult situations from the eye and body of a disabled person, I often mutter to myself (sometimes probably louder than I should) the fact that if TLC ever wanted a new reality show that I would volunteer; a show following individuals with disabilities and how they overcome the obstacles they face daily…what ones make them cringe, cry, laugh. What situations are easy or ones that are absurd. Most importantly, how it affects those closest to them. Anywhere I travel, someone has to retrieve or pack my walker from the trunk; I can get locked in public restroom stalls, because my hands can’t get the knob to open; or retrieving items at the grocery store often requires a helping hand. Mom and I like to swiftly shop our lists separate, so the last time I was choosing a coffee creamer, I asked a kid looking at the sour cream next to me if he wouldn’t mind helping me get the bottle, as I was nervous to drop and have it crack,¬†then spill (just from previous experience at home.)

It is in this “reality show” thinking that I had to laugh. I envisioned the crew filming me as I show the viewers how the shower is set. It was like camping. At the one end, the shower is the standard shower head (but you could detach it)–the other end is “the shower chair.” Now, I can’t complain, because being able to sit was appreciated; however, this wooden beam of a chair that you folded up and down (but was too heavy for me to fold up upon wanting to get out of the shower) was right in the way of how you normally exit a bathtub style shower. I was barely able to keep a grip on the handles and was thankful not to have fallen completely out. The next shower, I had to have Mom fold the beam up for me before I exited.

I understand that some hotels are older, but in the newer hotels–like the one we stayed in the night before our fight back–I do not understand why there has been no consideration for the shower set-up in handicap rooms. One would think that a walk-in style shower with a sturdy set chair attached would be more efficient for those who cannot get themselves in a bathtub shower. The thought just crossed my mind that weekend as the first hotel gave me much more insight to think of as well: if you’re remodeling the lobby, please make your residents aware that there are missing tiles on the floor when they come in after two days of no continental breakfast to find the place empty of chairs or tables. We used my walker to transport the served cereal back to our room. ūüôā

I may sound on a rant but I don’t mean for this to be so. I just want to make people aware that life brings unseen hurdles in your path and sometimes one needs a helping hand for safety–hence the handicap ramp in the hotel parking lot. Quite frankly, I would not have even called it a ramp, but a slab of steep, skinny, sloped concrete. It was only wide enough for my walker, so if I were using a wheelchair, I would probably have felt safer just hopping the curb. There was no hand railing either; I wanted to quote Marlin from Finding Nemo:¬†

Bob: Hey, you’re doing pretty well for a first-timer.

Marlin: Well, you can’t hold on to them forever, can you?

Bill: You know I had a tough time when my oldest went out to the drop off.

Marlin: They’ve just got to grow up som – THE DROP OFF? THEY’RE GOING TO THE DROP OFF? WHAT ARE YOU, INSANE? WHY DON’T WE FRY THEM UP NOW AND SERVE THEM WITH CHIPS?

Bob: Hey Marty, calm down.

Marlin: Don’t tell me to be calm, pony boy.

Bob: Pony boy?

Bill: You know for a clownfish, he really isn’t that funny

Ted: Pity

ūüôā

Never before my own handicaps and disabilities did I even think of these situations or how an individual lives each day overcoming even the smallest of difficulties. I’m not suggesting that life be easy, because it’s not and experiencing scenarios such as these is very humbling. It keeps me aware of my surroundings and ever thankful for the help in time of deepest need.

*Finding Nemo. (2003). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266543/quotes

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My One Word for 2014

From my last post, one can read about the good times my family and I had while being all together for the first time in over a year. It was a phenomenal way to kick off the new year and I wish it could have lasted longer!

Over the week, however, I really struggled¬†with¬†the battles waging in¬†my mind. I know–you will¬†tell me something like, “Mel, you are beautiful. Don’t believe the lies that¬†say otherwise,”–but right at the start, looking around at my beautiful family talking and laughing over our Spaghetti Warehouse dinner..I just wanted to burst into tears. I felt different, distant than everyone else. It was only the beginning of my “happy face” week.

I think in part it is frustration at my current hand condition. As the numbness increases, so does the weakness and curling of my fingers. Tasks that should be fast, are now taking me longer or requiring help.¬†One that is most frustrating of¬†all is putting in my hearing aid. Some days I just can’t, so I either go without it (which I do okay in lip-reading) or someone else puts it in for me. It was putting in my hearing aid before our late lunch on Sunday that caused me to get so frustrated that once I finally got it placed in my ear, I looked in the mirror and¬†told myself, “Just put on your happy face.”

I know–I can be honest with my family and should not hide emotions, but I get tired of it being about my health. I feel my conversations with people are most often about my health (if they ask about it) or books, coffee, or small talk such as this. My first engaging conversation I have had in a long time was when we came home from the Creation Museum the Friday before¬†and we started discussing Darwin, natural selection, and evolution. Don’t get me wrong, the car ride to the museum had us in¬†conversation of memories–hilarious–but memories are different than¬†deep questions (if you get what I mean.)¬†Back to Sunday, the battling of emotions and lies in my head did not fool my sister, Marcia, as I came back into the kitchen.

She asked what I what I wanted to drink and I snapped, “Water,” then headed to Mom’s bathroom to see if she had a hair clip. Not being able to do my hair anymore was also bugging me. Next thing I know, I am a sobbing mess and Marcia finds me like this–anything but happy. Ironic, just releasing those anger and frustration thoughts helped me release the tight emotions. Marcia said that we are family–I don’t have to put on a happy face for them. Easier said than done when you battle “burden” thoughts for over ten years. Mom found us and helped me put up my hair. The evening turned out to be one of great memories and laughs. With a true happy face.

Not even a day later, I find myself in¬†the worst possible situation I have ever had physically. It’s not G-rated and I don’t wish to discuss it…but let’s just say that night I was sick, and I mean literally sick. It was awful. I¬†have never felt¬†so humiliated even though I was at home just with family.¬†Without asking questions, Marcia and¬†Mom set out to assist me,¬†as¬†once again, I am a¬†sobbing mess. I even said, “This is when I hate my body.”¬†And I meant it. While helping me, and cleaning up at the same time, I am not¬†sure how the conversation flow happened, but¬†I remember Marcia looking up and saying, “Because you’re family and we love you.”

Holley¬†Gerth–author,¬†speaker, fellow blogger–wrote a post, “What’s your one¬†word for¬†2014?”¬†It was sent to my inbox the morning of¬†the¬†humiliating incident evening. I read it, but I did not start to think serious about something like this until a few days later. I have never claimed a life verse or¬†a¬†yearly word.¬†I know others who have, but especially a¬†yearly word–seemed like a resolution to me and I never meet my resolutions, thus, I don’t make them at the beginning of the year. I just used that as my excuse, I suppose. Maybe it was something about Marcia’s comment¬†that caused me to see different.

My health is¬†something that affects much greater than myself. For my family, I¬†can’t grasp the depth of their sacrifices on¬†my part due to health or what it means for all of us in the future. But what I saw the night of my most vulnerable physical state was Love. It was sacrifice.¬†It was pure.¬†We say the word “love” all the time, about anything, but are we really giving ourselves away in the process? In thinking of Holley’s question, I found myself trying to find the “perfect” word for my year of 2014. It didn’t take me long to oust the perfection part and just¬†gather a word. I thought of many but¬†found myself returning to this:¬†there is only one perfect Love and through my sister and Mom’s actions, I saw Jesus.

That is Love.

What is my one word for 2014?

Love.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

~I John 3:18

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Homecoming: thoughts of heaven

This weekend was Homecoming Weekend for the university in town. Although it meant nothing to me (besides a fun parade and getting pumpkin chai with my sister afterwards), there were many class reunions during the weekend where the alumni had returned to their Alma Mater to celebrate their years of attendance and also seeing the vision of the school continue through the current students. This year was also special as it was the coronation of the new university President.

Homecoming is coming home. Ok, so maybe college is not home…nor your high school, but when you are saying “homecoming,” it is the welcoming back notion. I have to admit though, when I was in college, my term for “coming home” literally meant calling Mom and saying, “I am coming home.” Home. My mind has been thinking about this word…I think I started when we took a little weekend road trip to Toledo.

After my mom remarried, we moved to Toledo. I was about a year and a half old or so. We moved to Colorado¬†a few months after I turned six years old; my first memories of a “home” were from there.¬†As we visited¬†a few weeks ago, I¬†realized that all my memories of Toledo were of places,¬†such as the tunnel you¬†walked through under the main road to get to the¬†zoo; the Bob Evans we passed to get to our house; the house itself (I can still see the inside); the church we attended (but when we actually attended church I noted how much smaller the sanctuary was compared to my five-year¬†old mind);¬†MacQueens¬†Produce Farm and a really¬†awesome ice cream place¬†by¬†car¬†lot (which I¬†finally got the name: Jan’s.) I remember things like my classroom¬†at school, getting red tokens for lunch when you wanted pizza, learning¬†the alphabet, and being Mother Goose in the end of the school year play. I¬†remember singing a¬†Honey Tree song for church and playing in the turtle sandbox or eating orange pushups. But what I don’t place is people’s faces. I only remember them through pictures.

All that changed in Colorado. We moved in the summer,¬†meaning I started a brand new school that¬†Fall. The kids in my class were the peers I attended the rest of my school years with, graduating together¬†and continuing to keep in touch here and there¬†(thank you¬†Facebook.)¬†Home was no longer just things or places…it involved¬†people from town, school and church. Home, physically, was¬†the house…a place¬†where¬†I could be myself, protected from the world. In the bigger¬†picture, Colorado was home. I still consider it home. It is my Alma Mater.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe God moved me here for a purpose…especially in¬†the¬†area¬†concerning my health. I now have friends, live closer to my extended family,¬†a “home” church I have attended since the move and many open doors for my paintings. So why doesn’t it feel like home? Time may¬†play a part in¬†it:¬†we lived in Colorado for almost twenty years (seventeen to be exact).¬†Whatever the cause, I think it¬†fits into the season of the soul..this¬†current road I travel, with thankfulness.

Home brings thoughts¬†of heaven. As my body continues to decline, [yet¬†I am¬†still becoming all that God has planned for me in this life]¬†there are¬†times when I¬†do honestly question God in aspect, “I don’t know how much more of this I can handle.” Maybe I am using thoughts of¬†heaven as an easy way out of this worldly suffering. Heaven is joy…and I look forward to that Homecoming. There will be nothing like it in comparison. But here, in the now, I should not be praying centered around myself, but God. It is only then that this temporary home (my body) will find strength in thanksgiving, even in the suffering:

Man-centered prayers tend to ask, ‚ÄúHow can God help me with my problems?‚ÄĚ while God-centered prayers consider, ‚ÄúWhat is God doing in this? How can I join in God‚Äôs purposes here?‚ÄĚ This changes not only what we pray for, but also the way we¬†pray.

Tim Challies. “Persevere in Prayer.”

Philippians 4:4-7

~Mel ūüôā

*http://www.challies.com/articles/persevere-in-prayer?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=Four-hourly_2013-10-02+12%3a15

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