Monday, 27 January 2014

The Bear Got Me

I got up early this morning. I woke up early, seeing the warm orange glow of the rising prairie sun pushing its way through the thin curtains covering my bedroom window, watching it spread, a lineal stain squared by the panes of window through which it must pass, changing in hue and intensity as the sun worked its way up past the distant horizon and into fullness. First orange, then peach, then a bleak, soft yellow and finally, the cold white that is the morning chill on the plains.

It was a hard day yesterday, one that drove me to bed early from a combination of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. The day itself was not what was hard. I awoke late yesterday, having been out the night before until well past midnight. I gave myself the luxury of sleeping in until near noon. I did some work yesterday, stick-handling some systems issues and changes, reviewing reports and writing some documentation. My total work day was a mere few hours, yet that was enough for me to feel it.

Then, having been housebound for the day, I decided to go grocery shopping. I must confess that this was a marginal event, a decision made merely to get me out, away from the bounds of these four walls, free, or something resembling free if you consider that I require both wheelchair and truck for this kind of expedition, for at least an hour or so outside. That's where the trouble began.

The shopping was easy. It was coming home that was hard. If you read my Facebook postings you will have seen it. I came home from shopping to find that my two neighbouring parkers had inadvertently parked in such a manner as to make my life "interesting". While they were completely parked within their spots, the had moved over towards my spot by perhaps as little as an inch or two. The one on the left had moved slightly right, and the one on the right had moved slightly left.

This peregrination of parking had left me limited space. If I parked so that I could get my wheelchair out, I could not get my groceries out from the passenger side of my truck. If I parked so that I could get my groceries out, I would not be able to get my wheelchair past the big cement post at the end of my parking stall. I was left with a choice, so what I chose to do was go up to my apartment for my shopping cart. My plan was to come back downstairs, pull the truck forward enough so that I could get at both sides, unload my supplies into my cart, then pull the truck back into the parking stall; tedious, but workable.

I went up. As I came to return and come back down, the elevator in the building, the one elevator in the building, decided that it was tired and simply refused to come when called, rather like a recalcitrant dog in a game with a ball. When it finally did respond, the elevator car stopped about a foot higher than floor level, a step impossibly high for a crippled man in a wheelchair. So there I was, stuck on the third floor with my frozen pizza and cold beer gaining headway in the temperature race, down in the basement parking lot.

At that point I simply gave up. There is no way to beat this stuff sometimes. I knocked on the neighbour's door, asking them for help. The octogenarian husband and his injured wife limped their way down the stairs and retrieved my store-bought booty. I sat in my apartment, feeling more and more crippled, more and more broken, fully handicapped. I sat there thinking about what I have become, and what lies ahead. I sat there, helpless while two very kind senior citizens trooped up and down stairs that now defy me, carrying with hands that I will soon lose, walking with legs that have left me.

Some days you get the bear; some days the bear gets you.


  1. Good Afternoon Richard, I just found your blog last Friday. My husband, Kenny, was diagnosed in December 2010. He is homebound now while I am at work. We have Hospice coming to the house everyday while I work. His ALS has progressed to effect his arms and legs leaving him in a wheelchair without being able to get out on his own. In the last 6 months he has lost his ability to take a couple steps or even stand. It has been a huge adjustment for someone who prior to being ravaged by ALS never sat still. He was constantly on the go, working harder than anyone I know. But alas that has all come to a grinding hault now. Thankfully his beathing and swallowing hasn't gotten much worse since he was diagnosed. Although he has had two bouts with an upper respirtory infections. The last one on Christmas day. But we made it through and just continue to take one day at a time. I completely understand the roller coaster of emotions faced by you and everyone else battling this disease. I will continue to read about your days and hope that you find the strength to get through them with your head held high. Your New Friend, DeAnn

    1. HI DeAnn

      Thanks for reading. This is an awful disease. It changes everything. My heart goes out to you.