Legs and Bathrooms

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After some adjustments were made last week, my prosthetic leg is feeling much better, but memories of swelling, bruising, and pain are not making me want to wear it.

I was supposed to begin by wearing it two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, and adding half an hour each time every four days. By now, I should be wearing it all day. I’ve probably worn it less than 10 hours total. Extreme discomfort (OK, pain) will do that to you, I suppose. But, truly, I’ve got to get with the program!

My next meeting with the prosthetist is March 22, and he plans to cast me for my permanent prosthesis at that time. The permanent one will have a cosmetic cover. Before that, however, you need to see what my “fun” one looks like.

We’ll meet again at the therapist’s, but the physical therapy (PT) intern will be there this time. She was in class last week.

It’s been fun being involved with a PT intern. I’ve been helping teach her about amputations, prostheses, diabetes, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, transfer boards, and the like. In the meantime, I’ve also been learning what exercises are best and things like that from the therapist. I believe I’ve even been getting more information than normal.

For the curious, my therapist puts an emphasis on wheelchair push-ups — which you don’t need a wheelchair to do. Any firm chair with arms will work, and I’ve even used the console and armrest in my car. The goal is to lift yourself up off the seat using only your arms. The best “seat” for me to use is my potty chair, which has arms. Every time I go to the bathroom, I do 5 to 10 push-ups. You should see how fast I can get myself back up now when I fall. The first time, it took four EMTs to pick me up off the floor. How embarrassing. Upper-body strength rocks!

Speaking of pottys, I’d had it Monday night at Walmart. My granddaughter and I were out and she needed some notebooks and other school paraphernalia (beginning of the third trimester). We’d been at a nearby store to get cake-decorating supplies, so I just rode my scooter over. It wasn’t running well because it doesn’t like the cold and the battery was low to begin with, so I changed to one of the store’s scooters when I got there.

With those giant shopping baskets on the front, store scooters don’t fit into the bathrooms, much less the stalls, well. I kinda had to go to the bathroom, but didn’t even give it a try.

Shopping over, I retrieved my scooter. By that time, I really had to go to the bathroom. When I got there, the door to the handicapped stall was closed and there was a little girl — maybe 4 years old — running in and out of the regular stalls. A woman’s voice was coming from the handicapped stall, instructing the child to “just go in and close the door.”

Patiently, I waited, as the bodyless voice continued its conversation with the child who, clearly, did not want to go potty without Mom.

Then came the part that chilled me to the bone: “Mommy’s going to be a while. She has to (do something that takes a while).”

“Lady,” I said. “You’d better be handicapped.”

“Um…no.” came the voice.

“’cause I only have one leg and I’ve had to pee for half an hour.”

Out she scrambled, still groping with the zipper and button on her pants, apologizing all the way.

Does she think we don’t go to the bathroom? More importantly, how stupid is she to leave a child out to run around the bathroom by herself? Doesn’t she realize it can be dangerous out there? (“Wanna go for a ride, little girl? I’ll let you steer.”) Back in the day, moms stood in the doorway of the stall while their child went potty. And that’s when we didn’t lock our houses when we went out!

If you physically need the handicapped stall, fine. If you have small children with you, have at it. Otherwise, stay out of our territory. Somebody may decide to speak up to flush out any imposters.

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