At the risk of sounding like a stereotypical Brit who always talks about the weather, that’s pretty much what I’m going to do today, because this time of year can be just plain awkward for me sometimes.
Sure, I love how pretty autumn looks with all the colours and stuff, but at the moment it’s neither nice and warm nor freezing cold, which means that my body can’t decide if I’m hot or cold. This mostly just leaves me feeling a bit unwell a lot of the time with that tired, achy, shaky, cold feeling. I’m pretty sure you know the one.
A couple of weeks ago I was give a new kind of walking frame to try. It’s different to the others that I’ve had because it’s designed to go in front of you rather than behind.
My physio has been encouraging me to try one for a while but I kept putting it off for ages because I was nervous about it. However, my current Nimbo walking frame that I use is getting old so I decided to give it a go so that we would know once and for all if it was a suitable type of frame for me to have.
Those of you who follow me on Twitter or like View From a Walking Frame’s Facebook page may have seen that my life got a bit more interesting last week when my walk-in shower broke.
Back when I first started this blog I did a post explaining how much getting this installed in my house when I was about 16 or 17 changed my life. It meant that I could wash when I wanted and without help which had a massive impact on my life. I’d used a swivel bather before (which is a chair that you sit on a bath and it spins around so that you’re sitting over the bath), so I used to sit in that to get a shower.
However since having the wet room installed we don’t have a bath anymore so it meant that for some of last week I had to go back to getting my mum to help me get washed. Because my mum has helped me on and off with personal hygiene stuff, it doesn’t bother me in a sense that I get embarrassed by it, but it does bother me because it feels like I lose a lot of independence, which is never easy for me to deal with, even if it was only for a few days.
It’s fixed now though and life is back to normal. Happy days!
Today’s post is inspired by Nora, who also blogs, because she asked me if I would do a post about accepting help even when I don’t want it.
First of all, I’d like to say that I think NEEDING help and WANTING help are two different things. I don’t always want to ask for help, but I do because it is sometimes the safest, (and also sometimes the only), way of getting things done. That’s okay. Everybody needs help sometimes. I think that’s part of being human, but that doesn’t mean that I always find it an easy thing to admit.
It took me a long time to accept that we are all interdependent. When I was a teenager I also thought that one day I would be independent. Lots of people over the years always made a point of telling me that my parents won’t be around forever. That always annoyed me. Of course I know they won’t be around forever, nor will I, but it always makes me feel guilty that I need help, even today.
While I like to think that I’ve reached a stage where I’m sensible enough to ask someone to lend me a hand when I need it, there are times I find myself thinking that it would be nice not to need it. For example, if I want a bath, I have to ask my mum o my boyfriend to lift me in and out. I don’t want them to do it, but I need them to because I can’t do it myself and it would be dangerous if I tried.
Sometimes it gets me down that I can’t just go for a soak whenever I feel like it, but then I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be able to do all the things I can do already. I used to be ashamed that it made me sad, but I’m slowly starting to learn that everyone feels sad sometimes and that’s also normal.
Learning that it’s okay to ask for help once you’ve done the best you can for yourself was one of the hardest but most important things I’ve ever had to learn.
Sometimes I think that I take the independence my walking frame allows me to have for granted.
I was chatting to a man in the train station the other day, and he was saying that my Nimbo frame Martha looked really good, and that the little seat on the back was a good idea.
He said that it was great how something like that could make such a big difference to someone’s life, or he assumed that they would. I told him that in my case this was very true because if I didn’t have my frame, I would find it really tough to leave the house on my own.
I wouldn’t fancy not taking my walking frame Martha out with me unless I knew that I had someone with me whose hand I could hold onto. I might be able to walk to the end of my garden, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make it to the end of my road without falling flat on my face. Any unexpected dips in the pavement always run the risk of throwing me off balance. It doesn’t take much some days. I have a knack of falling over even when there’s nothing there to trip on. I know that I couldn’t get up and down the kurbs to cross a road.
Most of the time, I don’t even stop to think about all the things that I can do with Martha in tow that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise because I’m just so busy doing them. It’s only when I have these conversations with people that I take the time to stop and think “wow, it helps me more than even I realise sometimes”.
Sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t always take the time to stop and appreciate the impact that the walking frame has on my life, in a good way. I never really think about it until I explain it to others. I always like telling people about how useful it is, because it always makes me feel grateful.
As I’ve mentioned before, Martha is the first walking frame that I’ve had with a little seat attached. Before she even arrived, I knew that this would be a huge advantage for me, but I couldn’t have anticipated just how much until I started using it.
I’ve used it just to take rests as and when I need them, while stood talking to people in the street. I’ve also used it on the train when there are no other seats (standing up on moving things is always a challenge, even with the frame). There have also been times that I’ve used it to rest my shopping bags on while I’ve reorganised them all because it’s easier than having to bend down all the way to the floor.
It’s safe to say that I don’t think I could go back to having a seat-less frame anymore. Well, I’d struggle with at least. It’s helped so much that I will always make a strong case for having one when I have to get new frames in the future, although I know that this might not always be possible.
I don’t ever remember not having a walking frame at any point in my life, and I really don’t know what I would do without one.
When I woke up this morning I was a zombie, there really is no other way to describe it other than that. My legs and back had decided that last night they were going to Tag Team against me and ache so much that they would keep me awake most of the night. Next time they plan on doing this, I hope they tell me so I can have an afternoon nap first. Despite their best efforts I think I managed t catch somewhere between three to four hours of Zs which is not so great –especially when one of those blissful hours was between 7:30 and 8:30 this morning. I’d have loved at least another half an hour but I have lots to do today so I didn’t really have a choice but it suck it up and get on with it. All I can say is, thank goodness I have a walk-in shower.
For a long time, showering was something that my mum had to help me with because we didn’t get the wet-room installed until I was around 17 or 18. From the age of around 15 I had other things that would help me to get washed by myself including a swivel bather and a bath board, but before that mum had to lift me in and out of our bath shower, and stay there with me to make sure I did slip. This did happen a couple of times though, given that my balance is less than good, especially on a bad day, and it also meant that my daily wash was done whenever mum could fit it in around all the other household chores. Now I can do it whenever I like, which is something I will never take for granted. It takes some pressure off my mother too. I’m grateful that she used to help me all the time (she still does wih some things) but I’m sure this is one thing she’s quite happy about not having to do anymore.
Thanks to the wet room I can just stroll in (quite literally) whenever I like, plonk myself down on the seat and stay there until my aches and pains have gone away, or until I feel human enough to bother facing the day. It works too. My legs aren’t as bad as they were first thing today, I’m half-awake and I’m sitting here writing this post. Not bad, eh?
Like most things in life, getting the wet room installed was a trade off. It meant that we had to get our bath taken out which was really useful on the days that I was stiff and the shower doesn’t work quite so well for that, but at least I have my independence. There is the odd day that it decides to get blocked and flood, but the bathroom is designed to handle the water. It just means we have to do the mopping up afterwards.