I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have arthritis, and that it has caused me to be disabled. Last week I had a total left hip replacement and as I heal and hopefully regain some of the strength and movement I’d lost, I am struck by how much of a struggle it is to be disabled. Whether it is a permanent disability or a temporary one, it makes life difficult at best.  

First, let me say that it is my friends and the professionals who are treating me that are making it possible for me to weather such a storm of pain, chemical-induced brain fog, and soreness. My sister has been such a blessing to me, staying with me most of the first week, making meals, cleaning up after my dogs, and generally running herself ragged doing for me. I’ve done it for her in the past, so I understand what it is like. I cannot imagine how people who have no one or can’t afford to hire someone to manage. Wow! Doing all these things on your own while trying to heal would really make the healing process slower.

In addition to my sister have been my friends. I am fortunate in having a good friend who I know I can call on at any time for help. She came and stayed with me the first day just in case I needed someone to be there. She did not expect to be entertained, but instead stepped in and did laundry and dishes and all the things that were getting ahead of my sister. Another friend is a nurse and patiently kept repeating the things I needed to be most aware of as my healing progressed. Another was an EMT and was able to pinpoint the problem when I became dehydrated and my electrolytes became imbalanced. They were wonderful.  I am so greatly blessed!

And then there is the assistive technology that I relied on to make me as independent as possible. First was a cane. No, I don’t use it to walk yet. Instead, it allows me to lift my leg when I am too weak to do it otherwise. It also is great for adjusting blankets, and a million other chores. It was the physical therapist in the hospital that tipped me off to that one.

My 4-wheeled walker allows to me walk feeling supported and if I get tired, I can turn it around and sit down. It’s high enough for me to get up and down without difficulty. I use a long-handled shoehorn, a commode by the bed (which bites if you aren’t very careful!), and a sock aid to put my socks on. I was fortunate enough to have a bed that allows the head and feet to be raised and that has helped tremendously.

And, finally, I have to think about my fat, old beagle, Sophie. She’s going to be 9 years old this year. She has Cushing’s Disease and isn’t in the best health herself, but she stepped right up and parked her butt in the doorway into my room as a reminder to all that Mom was laid up and they’d better be careful or she’d be dead from the ankles down to them! She has followed me from room to room, always watching over me. Now, how blessed is that?!

All of these things make it a bit easier being disabled. I will have arthritis for the rest of my life, but I won’t be disabled forever. I will heal and likely be able to do more than before the surgery. But I think about the people that have mobility limitations that they will live with the rest of their lives. And those who can’t depend on their clear thinking to figure out the easiest way to solve problems. Then there are those who have lost their sight or hearing. They don’t want to be thought of as anything special. They are just like you and me, finding ways to cope with a disability on a daily basis and making the most of their lives as best they can. It helps to know we can do it. After all, we get by with a little help from our friends!