Accept what is and move on. Lessons from sand travel, adapting to shifting abilities, gratitude. Brief episode with Health Hats.
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Music by permission from Joey van Leeuwen, Boston Drummer, Composer, Arranger
Thanks to these fine people who inspired me for this episode: Libby Hoy, Paulette Seymour-Route, Ann Boland, Oscar
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About the Show
Welcome to Health Hats, learning on the journey toward best health. I am Danny van Leeuwen, a two-legged, old, cisgender, white man with privilege, living in a food oasis, who can afford many hats and knows a little about a lot of healthcare and a lot about very little. Most people wear hats one at a time, but I wear them all at once. We will listen and learn about what it takes to adjust to life’s realities in the awesome circus of healthcare. Let’s make some sense of all this.
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Pack as for a newborn
Packing our Chevy Bolt for a three-night excursion to the New Hampshire shore (one hour away) with my honey: Ankle foot orthotic – check. Hip flexion assist device (HFAD) – check. Folding canes with Ergocap High-Performance Rubber Tips – check. Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation Ergonomic Forearm Crutches – check. Medline Aluminum Rollator Walker – check. Forcemech Navigator Electric Wheelchair – check. I feel like I’m packing for a newborn, except it’s me, the two-legged, cisgender, old white man of privilege. My left leg is getting weaker these past few months, more pain, less mobile, less stable – hence the added equipment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for the assistive devices. My risk of falling is manageable. I can still get my 3,500 steps a day. I can accompany my wife on longer walks.
We get to New Hampshire and hit the beach. Moving on sand was interesting – a big experiment. My wheelchair handles gravel, cobblestones, a 12-degree grade, packed sand, but not beach sand. Neither does the Medline Aluminum Rollator Walker. The 8-inch front wheels sink in the loose sand. We hunted for boardwalks through the dunes and found some. A bit narrow when people were coming towards us. My wife carried the walker (rollator means it has a built-in seat with hand brakes) onto the beach so I could sit and record the waves for this episode while she walked. I could walk on the sand short distances with the Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation Ergonomic Forearm Crutches.
Adapt to abilities
I’m an adapter and a nurse. What is my current state? What do I need to do to fill the gap? I lay in bed thinking about how I’d travel – remember traveling on an airplane – with the Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation Ergonomic Forearm Crutches. Yesterday I went to the chiropractor in my Forcemech Navigator electric wheelchair and took those Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation Ergonomic Forearm Crutches. They fold, but they’re big and unyielding, not like the folding canes with Ergocap High-Performance Rubber Tips that can hang on the back of the wheelchair. How will I transport my Yanigasawa baritone saxophone – 4.5-foot-tall, thirty pounds in the case? I will have to arrange people to carry it from the car for me when we can play out again. I’m not giving up that horn.
I am a pathologically optimistic person, but as I write this now at 2 am I’m feeling sorry for myself. As my friend, Libby says, ‘appreciate the shittiness of it.’ My friend Paulette says, ‘You’re allowed an occasional two minutes of seriously feeling sorry for yourself.’ I had a moment of angst on the beach. I’m a burden. I’m going to be more of a burden. Who wants to be a burden? I wear everything on my sleeve. Can you tell? I told my wife about my angst. I can’t hold this stuff in; however, it’s stress that I can manage. Part of my program is to manage manageable stress. No surprise, my wife hugged me. ‘I love you. This is where we’re at. We’ll figure it out.’ I’m an incredibly blessed so-and-so.
I haven’t done a host-onmic podcast episode like this in months. Host-onmic means just me, no guest. Actually, host-onmic is easier. My usual 30-45-minute weekly episode takes 15-20 hours to produce. Host-onmic is shorter, much less editing, less production time, more time for creative enhancements, like music. Do you like the ocean sounds? Perhaps I’ll share more host-onmic episodes for a while. My podcasting compatriots – a support group – encourage me to tell the story directly more often. I did seven years as a weekly blogger before I started podcasting. That was all me, no guests. No mic either.
I’ll leave you with a parting story. My grandson and I read to each other every Saturday for an hour. We started because he wanted to address my Pokémon illiteracy. For a couple of months, he read Pokémon to me. In the last few weeks, he’s been reading a book to me he wrote about wizards. I’m reading Tom Sawyer to him. One wizard in his story could read minds. I asked him, ‘Is this superpower always on, or can the wizard turn it on and off?’ ‘Oh, Opa, reading people’s minds all the time would be a curse, not a power.’ Out of the mouth of a nine-year-old. My superpower is accepting what is and moving on with a splash of appreciating the shittiness.
See you around the block with my Ergobaum Prime 7TH Generation Ergonomic Forearm Crutches and hip flexion assistive devise or Forcemech Navigator electric wheelchair. Onward.