It is mumbled in intelligent circles that change is as good as a rest, and usually when my BFF comes to stay or I am at my sisters for Christmas this can ring true. My muscles and logistical brain cells can take a break from having to struggle with movement.
However when my BFF came to stay for a couple of weeks at the beginning of April my brain and muscles decided they had had enough of the continual physical and mental struggle with just getting stood up. Usually I am lifted to my feet, with my dead body weight supported by BFF until I am balanced, then I can totter off to where I need to go. Being lifted takes all the physical strain and stresses off my joints, it only takes seconds to do, requires minimal concentration, which all equates to a rest.
Instead of it being restful, it highlighted in fluorescent neon with flashing lights and klaxons just how utterly exhausted I am when doing it by myself alone. Whether it was the eight, nine, ten attempts it takes every morning just to get up from sitting on the bed to standing, whether it was the physical exertion of standing from the toilet and the number of times it just doesn’t happen, whether it was constantly wondering and planning when I would next get up in order to get to the bathroom and/or then get to the kitchen to prepare food et cetera – it was all too much, I broke.
But I am completely out of my depth, I did not know who to contact, I did not know what the answer would be, I did not know how long it would take to be rectified, or even if my situation was rectifiable. Everything was completely overwhelming.
Muscular Dystrophy have regional care advisors however contacting one was not that straightforward as HQ did not have the details of the new incumbent who covers my area, fortunately friends in the right places knew the right person to ask and the RCA visited the next day. After a great deal of discussion, and tears on my part, she left intending to initiate an armful of referrals. That meant that I had to confess to family the severity of my struggles.
Professional peeps have been responding to these “urgent” referrals, but as is often the case they’re asking what help I want when I don’t know what I want, what is available or what will work. Social Services sent their directory, a glorified phone book, which isn’t offering straightforward answers, Wheelchair Services have lost me (I’ve had a manual chair for 18 years, but I only deal with their contracted maintenance people and never the office). Physio cannot offer any practical help because the nature of MD is debilitating rather than rehabilitation. Occupational Health was more positive but nothing can be set in place yet as it depends on actions by others.
So, a month later the result is ……. carry on struggling, failing, waiting.
What I need (am hoping for) is a small compact electric wheelchair that can rise to enable me to cook or simply reach the light switch, and can manage the tight turns and dimensions of my little hovel. If there isn’t one, then I will have to move, but to where I know not, nor how long it will take. I fear I am hanging too much hope on one thing.
I am grieving, grieving for the life I had, the struggle to keep the life I have, the hopes for a future life. All my hopes, skills, dreams have been quashed. The talking, admitting, confessing to the numerous professionals has not been a positive experience, trying to imagine working solutions and all these imposed changes will bring, it has rendered me deflated, defeated, despondent, ashamed and humiliated.
The NHS Wheelchair Services chap has visited with mixed results. The NHS is charged with providing a mobility solution, an indoor powered chair that might be used outdoors too. Many people need chairs with other actions, say to rise up to enable someone to reach a work surface to make a drink or meal, or to rise up to turn on/off a light switch, but these are not classed as ‘mobile’ but ‘social’ actions so they cannot provide any chair to me. But they still need me to take an indoor and an outdoor driving test (stop laughing). I can apply for a ‘personal wheelchair budget’ known as a voucher, where the NHS pay for part of a private purchase chair up to what they would have been charged (aka what a suit has decided is a reasonable minimal contribution). So I’ve to find my own solution, if it exists, if anything can be sourced closer than a county away.
The second problem is my small hovel. No one can tell me whether a chair can manage the tight turn into my bathroom through its narrow door, and no one can tell me what happens, how I am supposed to live, if I cannot get into the bathroom at all. No one can tell me a housing solution.
Now six weeks on, I just have to struggle on taking upwards of 45-minutes to have a wee. Speaking of which…..