little girl and walkers

“Excuse me,” says the little girl, shyly, fingering the rails of my grannywalker, “Are you really old? My great-grandma has a cage like that too, and she’s REALLY old.”

Don’t kids–the ones who survive the next five minutes, anyway–say the darnedest things? 

It’s take-your-kid-to-work day, and my new mini-coworkers are endlessly fascinated with my mobility assist tools. Wherever I go in my grannywalker, a line of tiny feet patters after, their owners eagerly asking questions.

On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)

I documented my adventures in remobilization in 49 blogposts. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all 49 posts.

Obviously this small chicklette has vision issues–me, old?–so I move in closer and edge down to her level, to let her get a really good look at my youthful visage. “Nope,” I respond cheerfully,* “But I am a bit crippled right now, and this, uhm, cage, helps me walk without falling down.”

“Oh,” and her eyes grow dinnerplate-sized, “I guess you drink a lot. My uncle falls down when he walks too, whenever he drinks like a fish. He’s always thirsty. Daddy says his legs are even hollower than his brain.”

Uhm…let’s try again.

“No, this isn’t from drinking too much,” I begin, “I broke my leg, and now it’s getting fixed, but I still need this to help me walk right now…”

She gives the walker a skeptical glance. “Well, it’s not helping you much,” she observes, “Why doesn’t it give you a ride? Maybe you should ask to ride piggyback on somebody. My daddy gives me rides; maybe he’ll give you one, too.”

“He works in his office over there,” she points, “Know what? I’ll ask Daddy to give you a piggyback ride. Where do you want to go?”

Then she stops and gives me the once over. “Or maybe not,” she says, pensively, “You’re a lot bigger than me. I don’t think there would be room on Daddy. Maybe you should find a giant.”

Maybe I should get out of here before I commit smartasskidicide.

OK. Let’s reflect on what’s happening here: When you wear a wheelchair, kids ask for a ride. When you wear a walker, kids ask for a ride FOR you….because you look ooooooooooold. Decrepit. On your last legs. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel. 

Good to know.

“I hate to say it, but that’s kinda true,” admits The Resident Carpenter later, “How many times have you seen young kids on a walker? But you always see old ladies using walkers.”

This is why we have friends, for reassurance. All of a sudden the cane is looking better and better. 

Now accelerating my walker exit strategy…

* See? I can be cheerful even when I’m gritting my teeth.