If you missed the beginning of this story, read part one here.
I can’t tell you everything that happened on the day of the short walk. I’ve lost many of the details, but I remember enough. I remember the way I felt…the excitement of taking my walker outside, the anticipation of reaching for something in the distance, and the questions of the journey.
Could I really do this? How long would it take? Did I have the strength to walk to the neighbor’s and back home?
Questions of all sorts have always lingered in my mind. They come with the challenges of living with physical limitations. And the questions come because my independence is so connected to my dependence on others.
Back then I relied on a walker made out of PVC pipe, a temporary solution. The physical therapist may have ordered a more permanent, factory-made walker, but it often took a while to receive the needed items. Everything required a prescription from my doctor. And paperwork. Someone always had to submit forms. Then we would wait. Waiting was another thing I quickly learned to accept.
My mom took the walker out to the driveway. It was a flat surface. She helped me get in the walker. The PVC frame surrounded me, protecting and supporting my body.
I was all set. It was time to move forward. I started down the driveway, still a flat concrete space. There was no difficulty, no obstacles or reasons to stop. I kept going. I made it to the end of the driveway. A piece of my journey was behind me. A small piece, but the joy of what I was doing gave me confidence.
I stood there for a moment, pondering the first challenge…getting myself and the walker from the driveway to the street. I saw the slight incline and the bumps in between. I saw these things, but I was not afraid to try. My desire to take this walk and my confidence made me refuse much help from my mom.
I tried my hardest. I thought I would stay balanced and make it past that problem area. But I didn’t do it this time. I couldn’t walk beyond the driveway on my own, not with my little strength and not with the PVC walker.
I fell and I hit the pavement hard. Falling was actually nothing new for me. It happened a lot as I learned to walk. And every time a fall was sudden. No time to prepare and there was rarely a chance for someone to catch me.
Outside falling was not the same as tumbling in the house. This time I had damaged my front tooth and we had to go to the dentist right away. At least my front teeth were still baby ones. The dentist had to pull one out. I stayed toothless in that spot a little extra longer, but I was okay. Everything else would heal.
I never made it to the neighbor’s that day. The pumpkin patch that drew me to the outdoors would have to wait. I would pick out my own another year.
The big fall didn’t stop me from walking or trying new paths. We quickly learned: the PVC walker was not made for the outdoors. It wasn’t sturdy enough. I needed something to provide more stability while I continued to grow.