The Chair

Friday afternoon in the main library in town.  This is a lovely building constructed some twenty years ago, and it is bustling in a quiet kind of way, with a variety of patrons.  That variety is the primary reason I drove the extra ten or so miles past the small community branch to which I usually go.

Sitting across from me is a Native American man, who judging by the plastic trash bag tied to his suitcase, is homeless.  A young woman who had been working industriously at a neighboring table, just packed up her things, including two computers, walked over  to this fellow, and handed him a couple of bills, two twenties, I think.  He demurred, saying he was fine.

But he took the money.

He mostly sits, eyes sometime closed, but also takes out his phone every once in a while.  Perhaps he is expecting a message.

It is good to get out of my bubble and see how the rest of the world is getting on.

He has moved to the table vacated by the young woman.  Apparently on it there is a port for charging a phone, as he has plugged his into it.

A colleague years ago told me that he believed I am a people watcher.

Of course, I am.  That is why I write fiction.  Perhaps this man, and that woman, and their brief interaction will wind up in a story.

Carol is having a pretty good day.  She ate her breakfast with some enthusiasm and seems less drowsy.  Last night, as well, she finished off her supper.

Perhaps her body is adjusting to the new meds.  If so, I am relieved.  I don’t know much about precisely how her disease wreaks its damage but I am on the lookout for lack of energy and appetite.

The Native American man has just walked over to talk to a man at another table.  They seem to know each other.

There is an obvious train whistle coming through this building’s windows. The depot building for the Pere Marquette train line is nearby.  Google tells me that building, dating from 1927, now houses a microbrewery establishment.  The train whistles emanate from freight trains.

And I just heard another train whistle.

Native American man now hunched over his phone.

I have clearly been distracted.  But I am not at all unhappy.  In fact, I am delighted to have broken out of my isolated little caregiver’s world.  Even more so to learn something new about this town, after living for sixteen years fifteen miles up the road from it.

These distractions, however, have taken me away from writing about what will be happening on Sunday when Kyle arrives with the tilt wheelchair and we start the process that might result in a dramatic change to that world in which Carol and I have been living.

Monday night after an exhausting but quite productive day.  It is approaching midnight, and I have just enough energy to write what will amount to a head note to be developed at the next opportunity, perhaps tomorrow night.

So with that limited objective in mind, I can state that this day, the last in April, was the best in a long time.  First, Carol ate three good meals, the last being most notable.  Second, I managed to get to town to deal with my own medical problem, a highly irritating infection in my left eye.  Third, Kyle devoted his session to making an adjustment to the chair he had dropped off yesterday.  Fourth, he got Carol into the chair, and wheeled her out onto the deck.  Fifth, Ward, Carol’s younger brother and father of Ryan, expressed his desire to stop by this evening.  Sixth, he joined us, Carol and me, and Ryan for dinner, with Carol in her new chair sitting at the table with us.  And seventh, I managed, with Ryan and Ward standing by, to lift Carol out of the chair and back onto the bed.

All of this is noteworthy.  I will decide how to shape it when next I sit down to write.

Tuesday night.  Time to pick up the thread where I dropped it.

Before breakfast I debated with myself whether I should transfer Carol to the tilt chair.  I had performed the reverse action last night, transferring her into the bed while I had help available if needed.

This morning I would be on my own.  Another complication was the fact that today’s aide who would be giving Carol a bed bath would be arriving in a few hours after breakfast.  Perhaps, I thought, I should take the simpler route and wait until I returned from town later and then do the transfer while the aide was still here.

I asked Carol if she wanted to get back in the chair, like last night, and eat her breakfast in the kitchen.  To my surprise, she said she did.

I decided to take the plunge.

My first task was to reassemble the pieces of the chair that I had removed last night so as to eliminate anything that would be in the way of moving her into the bed.  Those pieces included both leg rests, and the left arm rest.  With these pieces off when I positioned the chair next to the bed, there was nothing in the way.

They were now lying on the unused leg of the sofa.  I wanted to be sure that once she was in the chair, I would be able to put the pieces back on.

It took a little time to remember what went where and how.  Fortunately, my memory was good enough so that with only a couple of snags, I was able to get everything back where it belonged.

Then I took them off, and moved the chair into position next to the bed.  I made sure to tell Carol what I was about to do.

I put her shoes on so that if during the transfer process she put some weight on her feet, the shoes would provide traction on our slippery wood floor.  Then, modeling my actions on what I had seen Kyle do, I first swiveled Carol on the bed so her feet were over the side and touching the floor.  I then slipped my arms underneath her armpits and wrapped them around her as in an embrace.   I took a breath and lifted her up.

I’m not sure if her feet ever did hit the floor.  What I am sure of is that I was able to swing her into the chair.

She gave one little verbal complaint, but then settled in.  I put the various pieces back on, found the gate belt and secured it around her waist.

And very happily wheeled her into the kitchen next to the table.  There she sat while I fixed her breakfast.  She was alert and ate without much hesitation.  After she was done, I fed the dog, let her out, walked across the road to get my newspaper, and then prepared my breakfast.

Carol seemed to be getting drowsy, so I wheeled her back into the living room, tilted the chair back, and she was soon asleep.

The aide arrived, accompanied by a trainee.  I asked the aide if she was familiar with this kind of chair.  She said, no, but she knew about wheelchairs.  I showed her how I had prepared the chair for transfer.  And then left to do my shopping.

When I returned later, Carol was in the chair.  The aide said that it had taken the two of them to get Carol onto the bed for her bath, and then off and back into the chair.  Carol, they said, had stiffened her back, so that they had to struggle to complete the transfer.

That is not surprising.  All of this was new.  And she had just had the bed bath, which she is not always happy about.

I suggested, as Kyle had indicated to me, that through repetition Carol might become more comfortable with the transfer process.

We had supper at the kitchen table, and without too much stress, but not as smoothly as I would have liked, I got Carol back into bed, where she is now sleeping.

I expect with Kyle’s help I will refine my transfer process.  The whole idea is to avoid my having to bear her weight.

All of this detail probably obscures the significance of what has been accomplished these past couple of days.

Carol has been out of that bed for the first time in months.  She has eaten at the table.  She seems somewhat energized.

I know too well not to start thinking ahead.  This is all very well and good.  Perhaps it augurs a stay in the inevitable decline.

I will permit myself just a sliver of a hope that it might be a little better than that.

That hope, like a sliver of sunlight through darkening clouds, is enough to brighten my life, at least for a little while.

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