My latest attempt to go outside took a new level of creativity, which involved a massage table and a lot of scooting.
In the last year or so, I haven’t been well enough to walk or use a wheelchair. Orthostatic intolerance, or POTS, makes me sicker the more vertical my body gets. Putting my feet on the floor and trying to stand up usually sends my health into a tailspin. Logically, and as much as I love and miss walking (or at least putting my feet on the floor), I try to avoid it for the sake of my health. That’s at least until I start to feel better.
It wasn’t a perfect solution, but using a massage table gave me the chance to keep my feet elevated and still get outside. Or at least halfway outside.
The problem was: The deck on my side of the house was higher than the floor in my room by half a foot. Every time I wanted to go outside in my wheelchair I couldn’t because the deck was too high. Basically whoever built the deck wasn’t big on consistency.
For awhile I was well enough to take my wheelchair to the other side of the house and go out through the sliding glass door. But in the last couple years it became too taxing. By the time I’d get outside I’d feel sick and need to turn around.
I thought about using a threshold ramp to get the wheelchair on to the deck, but fitting it in my small room at such a steep incline would have been useless. That’s when I realized that if I wanted to go outside anytime soon the deck would need to be lowered. Lowering the deck sounded like a nightmare, or at least a lengthy, noisy process that would happen right outside my door. In the end, it was all of those things, but it was also worth it. Eventually the deck was lowered. Then all I had to do was get myself outside.
The first step was getting my bed as close to the French doors as possible, then my mom pushed the massage table against my bed perpendicularly. Next, I gingerly scooted along the table, but found it less tiring if I was horizontal and on my side. It took several minutes, but finally I scooted all the way to the other end of the massage table.
But, after all that effort, my legs were still inside my room and my torso and head were outside. It wasn’t the best view — all I saw was the inside of my room. I had essentially gone outside to look inside. But when I turned my head and looked outside I could see all kinds of things I had missed when I was stuck in my bed. I could feel the cool breeze swirling around me; I could see hummingbirds buzzing around a tree branch above the roof. I didn’t realize it until later, but it was the first time I had been outside in two years. The last time was in the summer of 2017 when I was able to use a wheelchair for upwards of an hour. Now, two years later, I have to be more creative to escape the confines of my room.
It was refreshing to go outside and see the view I’ve been looking at from my room. For such a long time, it had been an untouchable world. I had forgotten what it felt like.
The down side was that I didn’t have anywhere to go. The massage table, with me on it, was too heavy to move, so I was sort of stuck there, halfway in and halfway out. But, because I’m stubborn or determined or both, I decided I had to get myself all the way outside. So I slowly lifted myself up on the massage table, sat upright, and swung my feet to the edge of the table so my whole body cleared the threshold of my room. I was outside. I was vertical. It felt good. Triumphant. Then I blew it.
I should have had my moment, savored it, then laid down and scooted my ass back to my bed. Instead, and here’s where more stubbornness comes in, I stayed upright and used my upper body to lift my lower body across the massage table and back to my bed. My body wasn’t happy about that. It felt like a boxer used me as a punching bag. But, a few days later, I recovered and tried again. This time mostly staying horizontal. It went better. My body didn’t hate me as much.
Overall it was a success. But one that can, and hopefully will, be improved upon. To make it easier on my body I’m looking at getting a lightweight gurney on wheels. It’s expensive for a gurney made of PVC pipes, but if it makes getting outside easier, it’ll be worth it. And I’ll be sure to let everyone know how it goes.
BEFORE YOU GO…
1. Thanks for reading!
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