Courage at Twilight: Adapting

As we left church, Dad half wheeled and I half pushed his wheelchair down the sidewalk toward the handicapped parking stall where waited the Faithful Suburban, the Mighty V-8. He looked up at me and enthused, “This wheelchair business is working out pretty good!”  I fell speechless with pleasant surprise.  Dad was adapting, and while his condition continues to deteriorate, the wheelchair has actually improved his quality of life.  Suzie came a few days later to give the house another look over for ways we could adapt the house to Dad, rather than Dad to the house.  I had already elevated his reclining rockers by three inches, which Suzie was thrilled to see.  Kindly and encouraging, she talked with Dad about how to dress more easily and safely, how to bathe more easily and safely, how to avoid falls and fatigue, and how to pace himself.  She has us ordering various items of adaptive equipment, like a sock aid (complete with six illustrated sock aid steps) to pull on his socks without him needing to bend over or pull his feet up to his knees, and like a dressing stick to pull on his pant legs one at a time, and like a long-handled shoehorn to slip his feet into his shoes, and like sofa risers to lift the sofa height so he can escape the soft cushions.  When the power wheelchair comes (I committed the unfortunate faux pas of calling it an electric chair), we will order 5:1 (five feet long to one foot tall) portable foldable ramps for the living room, and longer ones for the garage and front porch.  Dad does not want to do any of this, but desire has become irrelevant: functionality is now what matters.  These simple, inexpensive devices will help adapt his surroundings to himself, and himself to his condition.  Like a sailboat tacking powerfully into the wind, I hope Dad will be able to pick up some speed and better enjoy the race.

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