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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Living this difficult life

Trying to find shoes that fit over Brendan's new leg braces made me think a lot lately about my son being disabled. By now this life has become the norm but sometimes certain things make you realize how difficult his life is for him and everyone involved in his life. Living in a wheelchair makes everything more complicated. Doing simple daily things take so much longer and requires so much more effort for not only him but whomever is helping him at that time.

For instance, I can get off the couch and go grab a snack in 30 seconds. Brendan can be in his wheelchair in his room and take nearly 10 minutes to get his own snack. He often has to ask for assistance especially if making nachos. We have recently reorganized a drawer and built a snack cabinet to make life easier. He still tries to ask anyone and everyone to get one for him. I can totally understand why because it takes everyone else 30 seconds. We are trying to stop doing everything for him because he really needs to work on independence. He will often choose to skip the snack if someone doesn't help him and this may just be laziness or maybe it requires too much effort. I don't know because I have it easy, I can walk and use my hands appropriately.

Now lets talk about buying a new pair of sneakers. An average person may take a trip to the mall or stop at a few stores to find a new pair of sneakers. They get to try on a bunch right off the shelf and get to choose their favorite color and style. Brendan has to get what ever I can find that fit over his braces. I miss his SMO's (ankle braces) because we could pick almost any sneaker he wanted.
I am kicking myself for not sticking with the SMO's and letting the doctors (here) dictate what he wears. I honestly believe it has not done him any good. I like to think they know what they are doing and I always want to try and help him walk better so I listen to them. I also take his orthotist's opinion into consideration when I bring her the script. This time GRAFO's were decided upon. I was told it would help his crouched walking which I am always trying to correct. I google image searched that style of brace and thought they didn't look too cumbersome and may work well for him. I was wrong! I thought they would look like these:

NOPE! He received these:

I am so fed up with braces that are made 3 sizes larger than his actual feet. I am so sick of the way they are designed that make them nearly impossible to fit into actual sneakers. This time we had to buy 3.5 sizes bigger than his actual sizes in an X Wide. We had to take out the sole and lace them very loosely. We found 1 pair that sort of fits. I don't love them. He won't love them but they should function. I completely failed at one store and had to try a different one. Men's size 7 1/2 is a hard find never mind adding wide width to that size. But at least we found a pair and he can now try out the braces to see if my opinion will change based on his walking. I do not have high hopes.

Compared to his regular sneakers

This also reminds me that the average person can get themselves dressed in just a few minutes. Brendan has an alarm set for 10 minutes earlier than us so he can remove his own covers and sit up in bed. This has been a new goal recently and he is doing amazing! He can't undress or dress himself at all so every single morning my amazing husbands takes this chore on. I have my own routine that I do so don't think I am still sleeping! Remember we have 5 kids, 4 of which head off to school. Getting him dressed, on the toilet and teeth brushed takes a solid 15 minutes and depending on the day it can take longer. If Brendan wakes up tired it takes an extra 10 minutes to get all of that done. Adding the leg braces into the routine can easily add another 5-10 minutes. I will have to time this process! You have to dig out the correct socks and actually get the brace on and then get the dreaded sneakers over them. You can literally break a sweat getting him ready for the day.

We recently had to get Brendan a folding wheelchair so that other people could take him out and about. He has a PASS worker that takes him out into the community and he is also interning at the Police station. Oddly both of them have the exact same very small car, a Toyota Corolla. His job coach drives him to and from the Police Station weekly and his PASS worker takes him to subway. A folding wheelchair has made this possible but you can't just easily fold it up and place it into the trunk. It is a process. First you have to unvelcro the seat cushion. Then you need to unclip the back seat and pop it off. Then you have to pop of the wheels (because it still wouldn't fit with the wheels on), fold down the handlebars, lift up the foot plate that doesn't EVER stay up and always gets in the way when you are trying to fold it and then pull up on the seat to fold it in half. Did you get all that? Yup it is a pain in the butt and that is on a nice sunny day. Never mind doing all of that in the rain or bitter cold. You get soaked. You can't hold an umbrella. You already spent a few minutes shifting Brendan out of the wheelchair and into the seat of the car and now you have to dismantle this chair just to transport it 12 minutes down the road to do it all over again. Crazy right?

I always make comments to my husband about not seeing many people in wheelchairs. I know there are many types of disabilities and most of them don't require a wheelchair but you hardly see them. I think I now know why I don't see them out and about. It is too much work! We actually love when Bren chooses to stay home if we give him the option. It is sad but true. Sometimes I have to run out quick and he exclaims "I want to go" and I have to say "sorry not this time" because it would take longer for me to get him into and out of the car than the entire trip would take. That is reality.

I am not really sure where I am going with this post. I have been thinking about all of these things lately and I want everyone to really appreciate their working bodies. Life is so difficult otherwise. I still fear the future because if his own mother doesn't always want to put in the effort to take him out and about, then who will? I often get sad thinking of him staying home all of the time, watching YouTube and eating take out. It makes me cry. I will have to focus on making everything perfect so that people can take him out and about easily and say Yes to him instead of No. Fortunately we have been creating the perfect house for him which makes life a lot easier for him and for us.


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