Life from the wheelchair

Nothing like a couple broken limbs to change my perspective on life. I used to be rather tall. From the wheelchair, my shoulder barely rises above the kitchen counters. I suddenly understand the short person’s and wheelchair person’s dilemma. Everything is too high. I can just see over the edge of the frying pan to check my breakfast egg.
With my long arms I can reach the over-the-stove microwave to open the door and shove in a small dish of food. If the turn table ends with the dish at the back of the oven, I turn the carousel until the food comes to the front so I can remove it. I don’t anticipate cleaning that device any time soon. Not from a wheelchair.
I did however clean the kitchen counters. Using my right arm and leg, I hoisted myself out of the lounge chair, flopped into the wheelchair and rolled backward into the kitchen. My keep- it-straight, broken leg blocks my path to most items. The broken left wrist mandates reaching over the chair if an item is on my left side. I approach the dishwasher at an angle almost close enough to toss dishes into the holders and drop the silverware into the basket before debating the importance of glasses being upside down. I even managed to wipe off the counters and wash a couple of skillets. My long arms can reach the dirty part of the counter. The rest must be clean. I can’t see into the sink, but I can fill it with the hot sudsy water and slosh cleaning rag around. The broken arm must stay dry, it did wipe a few things with a wet rag.
With a broken leg, I can technically stand and cook – or so the physical therapist said. With a broken leg, a broken arm and a walker, I have yet to figure out a safe way to do that for more than about seven minutes.
Opening the refrigerator as a stiff, one-sided person, I wheel myself backwards so my right hand can pull the door as I roll it open, then roll forward to reach the food. If we have a full gallon of milk to set on the counter, I start my weight lifting therapy early that day.
Carrying food in a wheelchair, I often spill something. I shrug it off. Who will notice if I have a few crumbs of cereal or wet spots on my black shorts?
One day my husband brought home a couple packages of cookies and placed them on the middle shelf of the cupboards over the counter. He thought they were wonderful. I wanted one. II rolled the wheelchair this way and that. I reached, jerked up and down in the seat and still could not reach them. I experienced the short person’s challenge – except I could not climb on the counter.
I could have gone back to the walker, locked the wheels on the chair, pushed myself up with one foot and arm, hopped to the cookie cupboard, carefully balanced on one foot while leaning on the arm rest and reaching with my right arm. I decided those store bought cookies wouldn’t taste all that good anyway.
And yet, I keep trying to do more in the kitchen. My inspiration comes from a local woman whose arthritis, years ago, forced her into a wheelchair. She cooked and sewed every day. She told me she kept her dishes in the dishwasher even if it meant, “Some of them get washed two or three times before I actually use them.” Makes sense to me: Convenience over convention. If she could do it, then so will I … at least until the physical therapy exercises have me on my feet again.