Time flies. It passes us by like we are standing still on a freeway.
Six weeks ago yesterday, Ms D. fell and broke her leg in three places. The compound fracture was severe and resulted in surgery. This led to a stay for what has been the beginning of a slow and bumpy road to recovery in a nursing home.
The recovery process is underway, although slow, Ms. D. is grateful to be home.
Many challenges and opportunities to learn how to cope with being confined to a wheelchair and to a very limited area of her house has been part of her daily ritual.
As time has passed, Ms. D. has gained new skills each day not only to cope with her status of being incapacitated, but learning how to make the most of her limitations.
This had not been an easy journey for Ms. D who is a very humble and strong person who despite being handicapped most of here life has been able to rise to the challenges and make the most of what she had been presented with.
Not once has she complained.
I however at times can see the frustration on her face.
Her determination to over come her current status and medical condition is inspiring.
Her days are spent, when possible, outside on her deck with my basset hounds keeping her company, mostly reading and recovering from the fall.
Medicare reimbursement for her in home nursing services and physical therapy restricts her to being confined to her home. The only exception to this is if she has a doctor appointment or for church attendance.
Each morning I would have coffee with her and check on her hourly when I was home working in my shop. When possible I would wheel her over to my shop to spend some time away from the lonely confines of her small home.
All of Ms. D,’s family are either gone or out of state. Most of her friends are either very elderly or frail and are confined to nursing homes and are unable to visit her.
She gets lonely.
I do my best to try filling this void.
Unfortunate, I had to return to my seasonal job as a State Building Code, and Ordinance Enforcement Inspector. I have been on loan to a city for two years working on special projects involving foreclosures, former crack houses, condemnations and, other blighted residential projects.
It is very challenging and at the same time very rewarding, working with the various individuals and neighborhood groups.
One of the greatest challenges is the proliferation or meth houses. Foreclosures are also up twenty four percent. This fact has become a significant challenge for neighborhoods and cities alike.
This job takes me out of my shop and is done in addition to my driving bus duties I have in the morning rush hour shift.
This makes for long days, and limits the time I can spend with Ms.D.
She understands this.
That doesn’t make it any easier.
We just some how make due and do the best we can.
I check in several times a day with her, and I am able to come home over lunch hour at times to visit her.
She also has other care givers from time to time along with basset hounds to keep her company.
She does as well as anyone could.
She is very grateful to just be home.
She makes the best of her situation.
The only request she has had since returning home from the nursing home, has been that she wanted to attend church if possible.
She is a quiet woman of deep faith.
It has bothered her that, up until now, she has been unable to attend church.
Permission and arrangements were made for her to attend church Sunday.
She simply was gleeful and very excited about attending church Sunday. Each and every day, leading up to Sunday she talked about being able to get away to attend church.
Sunday morning arrived.
She was up bright and early. She had her Sunday best outfit on that she had me set out the night before.
She was radiant.
She looked good in her dress with her hair fixed. She spent a long time preparing the best she could, considering the circumstances.
She made arrangements for a company who provides rides for elderly and handicapped persons to pick her up at 8:10 am for 9 am services.
I went over to her home at 7:45, to see if she needed any help getting ready for church.
She was already sitting on the deck, waiting for her ride.
Excited, and chipper.
This was her day. It finally had arrived.
I pushed her to the front of the house and waited with her until her ride arrived keeping her company.
It was a sunny cool morning. We visited while waiting patiently.
Her ride was to be there at 8:15, it was 8:20 no sight of her ride yet.
8:25, nothing yet.
8:30 still no sign of them.
Ms. D. only said “church is at 9:00 gosh I hope we aren’t late,” as she looked down the street.
8:35 her ride showed up.
Visibly relieved she waited as he deployed the lift for her wheel chair.
I said good bye to her and told her I was going to pick up her groceries and would be waiting for her when she returned at 11:00.
She said, “Be sure to pick fresh vegetables, not to take what is on top” as she waited for her attendant to load her and her wheel chair on the lift.
I walked across the street to my house, waving as I opened my garage door.
I began to get ready to go grocery shopping. For some reason I decided to look out the window and see that she was on her way to church.
I looked across and down the street. I noticed the attendant unloading her and pushing her back up to the curb and driveway. He then began fuddling with the lift. It was apparent he was having trouble with the wheel chair lift.
I returned to her and the van, to she what the trouble was. A red light was flashing and an alarm was sounding. I asked the attendant if he needed help and was having trouble.
He replied, “the wheel chair lift wont work, to load her”. I asked if I could help, I explained I drive bus and use a wheel chair lifts several times a day.
Even though this wheel chair lift was not the same I was used to I was very familiar with how they operated in general.
He said, “I have never been trained on this lift, this is a new van, and I am not familiar with this type of lift”.
There was no reason to get upset with him I thought to my self, that wouldn’t solve the problem but I admit I was a bit miffed at the company for sending out a driver who wasn’t properly trained on the handicap accessibility equipment.
Besides being both state and federal law, its part of the basic service they provide.
I took control. I shut off the override switch, located the manual jack and began the manual process to return the lift to starting position. I then informed the driver he was parked to close to the incline of the cement driveway and needed to move his van out about a foot.
I also pointed out he had loaded Ms. D. back wards and the lift wouldn’t deploy in that position as a built in safety measure.
He moved the van.
I then redeployed the lift and loaded Ms. D into the van. I then got on the van and secured the wheel chair with the restraints.
This took less than 4 minutes, however it was almost 8:55 now.
Services were at nine.
They were ten minutes away.
I instructed the driver how to unload and load her as I secured the wheel chair.
I quickly finished and told the drive to go.
I got off the van and watched as he pulled away.
I could see Ms. D, from the rear of the van thru the window.
She was smiling as she wiped the tears rolling down her cheeks with a tissue.
I some how felt if I looked up, some one else would be smiling also.
I quietly said thank you.
I returned home to go get her groceries, recalling that she had told me to be sure not to pick the vegetables that were on top of the pile.