Living

Of a Certain Age: Good riddance to the wheelchair

I made Cliff drive me through the Back of Beyond one day last week - just so I could see some sights other than my classroom and my living room, the two places to which I'm bound until I can drive myself again.

We cruised the wilds of Lexington County - rows upon rows of long-needle pines arrayed on dipping and rising hills; marveled at the Columbia skyline hovering over South Congaree; and finally turned toward home ... and the living room couch: my refuge, my prison.

I'll miss my bright red cast, which the doctor was to remove the day after the long drive. (Oh, to see the broken ankle with its screws and monstrous scars!)

I'll miss the flames Jonathan drew above my emerging toes - they make my foot look "hot" in whatever way one might mean that.

I'll miss my unicorn with little block feet, standing in front of a rainbow - drawn by Cole, a defensive player for the Gilbert High School football team and a member of my most boisterous English class.

But I won't miss sitting all the time, no matter how fast my motorized wheelchair can go. (One can tell where I've been throughout the school by the dents and scratches left on things I've run into or not quite cleared.)

One of my students asked me the other day whether I ever got tired of sitting - a touching display of concern considering I'd run my wheelchair up his right foot and leg a few days earlier in a Lennie moment. (I panicked and wouldn't let go of the throttle that makes the thing run. Lennie is a central character in "Of Mice and Men" whose chief fault is that he literally can't turn loose of the things that bring him trouble.)

I also get tired of being short - I'm a couple feet below my soaring 5 feet 4 inches in my motorized chair.

And I miss the ability to sidle up beside students when they're not looking - to offer assistance or to make sure they're on task. That's a necessary teacher "skill" I haven't had so far my first year.

Now it's a question of what orthopedic devices will carry me through the next few weeks.

Will it be the pedestrian crutches I used when I last broke my ankle? (My balance on crutches is questionable at best.)

The motorized scooter on which I can rest my booted leg while I "stand" to cruise or teach?

Or the high-tech walker, which aims to keep me from looking like a feeble old lady by dint of its bright blue chrome tubing?

My husband, Cliff, has had entirely too much fun and imagination dreaming of ways to mobilize me.

All I wish is that I had something I could slip into and out of the car so I can drive myself to work . . . to the store . . . crazy. (Wherever.)

This housebound/school-bound stuff has got to go.

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