It Takes a Village
As a quadriplegic for 35 years, I am used to having many people help me. Most of all my attendants, but also friends, family and my husband. I need help with almost everything I do from getting up in the morning until going to bed at night. I receive assistance with bathing and dressing, preparing my meals, and getting me situated for each day. During the day, I request help from a lot of people, including strangers. I have to ask people to open doors, pick up something that I drop, or even little things like giving me my cup when I order a drink at Starbucks. I am used to it by now.
Traveling is an entirely different story; and leaving for a trip when I am going to get surgery and not know how long I’m going to be away is a ‘big village’ project. I am good at making the phone calls and the logistical arrangements. But I need help packing, driving (in this case over a thousand miles), getting to and from my appointments, and dealing with each day in a room (mostly hotel) that does not have my usual necessities and method of organization.
Tomorrow, I am leaving to go out to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The drive requires two people, and once I get there I will need to be taken to and from the main facility for testing. In the middle of the week, my sister, husband and best friend/nurse practitioner arrive to provide me with moral support, guidance and company. I don’t know how long I will be in the hospital or how long it will take before I travel home. One of my aids will fly home after I arrive and then fly back for the trip home. Making the plans for this trip included logistics that made my head spin! Along with that, I have many people that have assignments as far as who is on their “list” to keep informed of my health status. I am lucky to have many individuals that are concerned about my welfare. And last but not least, all of the last minute arrangements to ensure that I have enough medication, all of the forms needed beforehand, and packing enough “stuff” anticipating what I might need that cannot be bought at the store or available in the hospital.
It takes patience, organization, communication and an ability to just breathe and not get frustrated. On the flipside, I am incredibly lucky to have a village that is big and caring. I am cognizant that not everyone has that luxury. And it is something that I don’t take for granted. To know that my network of support spans every age group, religion, and demographic makes me feel loved tenfold. What a gift. And I am certainly ready because of this large community that is surrounding me with love, prayers and positive karma.