You’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. It is true! Having many newly acquired needs post surgery has increased my need for inventive and creative solutions. However, my family has also learned some new skills with me, as the mother (and father and brother) of invention.
Life is hard. I’m unable to put weight on my left foot for months while it heals, so I am left hopping from place to place and utilizing all the equipment I used to help patients master. Walkers, crutches, wheelchairs, and reachers are all part of my daily routine now. But I am determined to celebrate the small victories and commemorate the ways we made it work even when my skills were questionable and extremely limited. Here are some of the new skills we have mastered in the last two weeks:
Pillow Origami My family has become quite talented at building pillow forts for me on both bed and couch. I had to keep my foot elevated to avoid undue edema during the acute healing phase. This required a barrage of pillows to support the cast, keep pressure off of my knee, and let me sit up enough to sip water at the same time. Imagine me looking like a soft taco surrounded by fluff and you’ll be on the right track. Not only do my loved ones build these forts for me, but they also move the pillows from bed to couch throughout the day as the amount of pillows needed to keep me safe while sleeping is even more excessive!
Pillow origami helped me learn the power of support.
Shower Art I cannot get my entire left leg wet currently to prevent infection post surgery. So the showering process is quite involved. No more just jumping in for a quick shower, instead, I now need engineering planning and county permits to bathe. I sit on my shower chair, wrap my left leg in a plastic bag and secure it at the top with Coban. My mom, who gingerly wriggles past the walker, brings in a chair to prop my foot on whilst outside the shower. I then wrap the waterproof liner around my thigh to attempt to keep the rest of the water inside the tub instead of artfully sprayed on the floor (though sometimes I fail!) Everything goes well with my handheld shower head as long as all necessary soaps are within reach, I don’t drop anything, and the bath plug doesn’t accidentally close half way though my shower (Unfortunately, all of which have happened requiring more on the spot improvising). If seen through the right eyes, my shower process is really a beautifully choreographed dance. It is, however, unpictured.
Shower art has taught me the power of laughter and improvisation.
Musical Chairs The choreography continues through mealtimes as my family watches me hoblog on my walker toward the dining room table. My family members then pull out chairs to make a path and gingerly scoop me up in the dining room chair and slide another chair to my side to prop my foot upon (to avoid it getting stepped on underneath the table). I am royalty at every meal. Truly, we look like synchronized swimmers and should put it to music.
Musical chairs has taught me the beauty of accepting help.
Wheelchair Maintenance I work with wheelchairs most days. I had forgotten how many moving parts they have. An hour after I had been discharged from the hospital, I struggled to shout from the car to aid my family in unfolding the chair and putting the footrests on while they shined a flashlight on the scene and struggled to overcome the anti-tip wheels. It was terrible. I knew how to do it, but couldn’t and they didn’t know how the pieces fit together, but were able-bodied. However, my family is a fast study and now they can operate brakes, remove arms, remove and replace foot rests, and know when to back me over rough terrain to avoid tipping me forward. My brother even “took me for a walk” in the wheelchair around the neighborhood, describing it as “pushing a full shopping cart with a bum wheel for a mile.”
Wheelchair maintenance has taught me that my family loves me and is willing to struggle for my benefit.
Porch Sitting I do not rest easily. I have been studying the concept of Sabbath for almost a decade now, because it does not come naturally. My dad has often encouraged me to stop and watch the clouds change shape or listen to the birds or float in a pool. The first time I tried this, I literally set a timer to float in the pool, because it was hard to sit still and silence my to do list! I believe (and hope) that throughout my recovery time and forced stillness that I will grow in my appreciation of Sabbath and stillness and silence and I hope some of that skill can remain with me once healed. I have been able to sit outside several times and read with my brother. This has been the biggest treat. I’ve read some. I’ve chatted some. But mostly, I just sat, and watched, and listened, and enjoyed. And it was delightful.
Porch sitting has taught me the beauty of stillness and rest.
Necessity is the mother of invention. May we continue to invent well, purposefully, and may these new knowledge and skills continue!