Taking the Walker for a Test Drive

Walking. It’s fun. It gets you places. You can go fast or you can go slow. You can kill bugs doing it. You can go alone or even walk with friends. I never knew how much I would take it for granted until I couldn’t do it anymore (well half do it, my left side was my limiting factor). When I was in both London Health Sciences and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance I used and progressed from different safety measures and assistants including a walker, a three-foot cane and Larry.

Larry for all intense purposes was and still is my cane. For as long as I can remember I have named all material things that hold a greater meaning to me. My first car that I purchased was named Denise. She was a slick Ford Focus, one that you couldn’t take hard right corners or ramps on because she would die on you. She was still a beauty in my eyes and is alive and well at my parents to this day. My laptop and pride and joy is named Lucy. I feel like I have a personal connection and relationship with these items. More-so when I have named them and especially when I have to have a stern talking with them. It is easier to yell at something with a name rather than, ‘Hey, laptop! Stop dying on me!’.

Larry and I had a love-hate relationship. I was so happy to meet and have him in my life when I was using a walker. I wanted so much to go to the next step and use a device that didn’t have four wheels and breaks. I immediately wanted to leave my walker, but once I started using Larry I also wanted to tuck him away in a corner. In my mind, we weren’t supposed to get introduced until I was old enough to start chasing my grandchildren around the corner and debating which dance moves were better. Of course, I would have to say and win this debate because of course the best dance move is my favourite, the sprinkler. I only imagine that my conversations with my grandchildren would be this cool (imaginary grandchildren, you have a lot to live up to right now). So when Larry did come into my life, we were bound together and not allowed to leave each others side for a long time. Everyday Kate or Kyla, my physiotherapists would come into my room and ask what my goals would be for the next few days and I would say, no cane. ‘I want to walk by myself.’

I am so focused on my journey of moving forward and getting back to who I was, but I hardly take a chance to sit down and reflect about what has happened to me and really what I have accomplished in the last six months. When I was first getting back into the drivers seat of using two legs, my Dad took a video of me using a walker. It was taken when I was in the London Health Sciences awaiting to go back to Chatham. I would walk up and down the hall with the assistance of the physiotherapist there. I could do this about 3 or 4 times before being too fatigued and have to go back to bed to rest. Looking at where I was then using a walker and having to have someone walk alongside me for safety reasons to then being discharged with only Larry and walking with little to no supervision is amazing. Here is a video of me using my walker. Video cred goes out to the amazing Joe Zimmer.

Sid chose Larry for me. He is red to represent the firefighter brothers. A week before the wedding I decided that since Larry was not on the guest list to the wedding, unfortunately, he would have to stay home. My wonderful physiotherapists, Steve and Kate had been taping my knee and I had been working very hard at my exercises and felt comfortable without him. So I flew solo without him. It was a proud moment.

He still sits in our bedroom just in case I am having an off day and need his assistance. He sits there to remind me not that I couldn’t do something for so long or that I lost function of something that was, in fact, second nature to me, but to never take it for granted again. I may still have my moments that are uneasy and not have my balance sometimes, but he is there to remind me that I have gone from losing everything that I have known and worked harder than ever imagined to get it back. Now when I go out walking, I make sure to take a moment to take a deep breathe in, look down and feel grateful each leg is going one step forward, left and right and I might add, enjoy crushing a bug or too with my left foot once in a while.

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