When I was little, I had a red step stool that helped me reach the bathroom sink. I remember tracing my foot on the engraved lettering: “Step up to be tall, sit down to be small.”
The step stool is now in my kitchen. Not for sentimental reasons, but because I’m 4’11” and I can’t reach anything in my cabinets.
Honestly, I’ve never been bothered by my height. I can still fit into children’s shoes. Everyone lets me stand in front of them at shows. No one ever asks me to help them move.
I’ve never had a problem with it…until now.
Luella is getting BIG.
Luella’s last measurements put her at 2’10” and gaining on me at a rapid speed. Her legs hang to my knees when I hold her, making it look like a child carrying a child. And after a particularly ambitious walk with her in the carrier a few weeks ago, my back HURT. And hurt, and hurt, and hurt.
The longer I was in pain, the more I worried. If I can’t handle Luella NOW, how will I handle her when she’s 5 or 15 or 50 pounds heavier? When I can’t hold her in my arms, what will be left?
Finally, on Back Pain: Day 5, I stopped wallowing. I popped a Vicodin, realized that it was time to enact a plan, and started to take back some control:
- We asked our favorite brewery, Wander Brewing, if they would keep a folding chair on hand so that Luella can use her adaptive chair there (it doesn’t work with picnic benches, which is all they have). They happily obliged and now I can periodically set her down when my back needs a break. Please love on them for us and drink lots of beer there.
- I sent in Luella’s application for a disability parking pass. Getting Luella and her enormous stroller in and out of the car a million times a day is HARD WORK. Also, the only public parking garage in downtown Bellingham isn’t accessible without a parking pass (ahem, City of Bellingham).
- And finally, in a very rapid development…uh, we’re moving.
There has always been a looming question about how to make our house more accessible. Although she’s not in a wheelchair yet, the doorways are too narrow to move her stander between rooms. There are stairs to the front and back doors. The massive yard, which I’d thought a kid might enjoy, has gone terribly underutilized.
So we are selling our single-family home to move into a downtown Bellingham condo(!!).
We’ve hit the accessibility jackpot: we’re moving into a building (Morse Square, for you B’ham folk) with an elevator. Into one of the few accessible units, with French doors on every room and an open floor plan. And a balcony big enough to fit a wheelchair.
Even accessibility aside, this is the right choice for our family. I am not a yard-person. I don’t know, or really want to know, how to garden (gasp!). I’m ALLERGIC TO GRASS.
No, we’re downtown people. We want the museum, library, music, and farmer’s market just outside our front door. We want to live where as many barriers as possible are removed for Luella (and ourselves) to participate in the community. And we’re prepared to sell half of our stuff to do it.
On February 17, we’ll start the move from our ‘hood to downtown. It’s a short distance, less than a mile, but it’s coming with some big lessons: Accept circumstance over expectation. Stop doing things that don’t make sense. Try not to hurt your back.
And if those lessons sometime come with a water view, so be it.
Health Update: We are still working on cause and effect, which is an essential building block before being able to learn any type of communication. She just recently demoed eye gaze software that allows her to make choices with her eyes since she hasn’t been able to make choices with her hands. It is RIDICULOUSLY cool/futuristic and Luella was, in the tiniest but most exciting way, able to do it. We’ll be demoing it one more time and then deciding if we want to begin the insurance process to have one at home.
Speaking of insurance, we finally ditched Group Health and signed up for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I have no opinion about them yet, but there is literally no way they could be worse than Group Health (grumble, grumble).
Luella will be starting developmental preschool in September! We’ll see how often we want to send her, but she does seem to enjoy being around other kids (kids tend to talk two inches from your face, which is great with Luella’s eyesight!).