Coming to terms with a loss of mobility 48



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I was a kid whose head was either in the clouds or a book! This tendency to be thinking one thing whilst doing another has led to a number of minor accidents – even as an adult!

Running round the side of the house in the dark, fell over the rake and finished up with a multitude of stitches in my leg; decided to go on the monkey bar with my gloves on (it was cold) and fell off breaking my arm; moving house, tripped over a pot plant and landed with a thump which broke the pot, but not my head – the bruises, however, were multicoloured and long-lasting; breaking a bone in my foot and the odd strained ankle, wrist etc. But not one of these accidents really stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do; I never missed a day of school or work because of an injury.

Like most of us, I’ve had the odd bad back and like you I’ve blamed carrying groceries that were too heavy; packing everything, including the kitchen sink, in my holiday suitcase, or deciding the whole house and garden needed a total makeover before the visitors arrived … tonight!

In August, however, the bad back would not go away with a heat pack and a good night’s sleep. Some nights the pain was is so bad I cried myself to sleep, despite taking what were supposedly “strong” painkillers. After a visit to the doctor, things seemed to get better and I chided myself for being a wimp. Then I bent down to pick a flower and my body crumbled under me. I gave it another week before making an appointment to see my GP but before that could happen, I stepped off a bus and finished up at the local hospital. Suffice to say, I now have a serious mobility problem. (No, dismissive – albeit overworked –  emergency doctor, I am not a hypochondriac old lady with time on my hands!)

So how am I coping? Well, that rather depends on the day. Truth be told some days not well! I hate dropping something and waiting for someone else to pick it up for me. This “I can do it“ stupidity means I bend down when I shouldn’t, even though I know the outcome. I hate pretending the shopping trolley is for purchases when actually, it’s to keep me upright, which occasionally it fails to do. I hate that I can’t finish the new garden I planned just before this happened and the material for the new beds is mocking me as it sits ageing beautifully. I feel fearful of walking on wet or uneven surfaces.

Then on other days I’m fine – me, myself and I are not really good at feeling sorry for ourselves. For the “why me?” – there’s a “why not me?” What makes me immune? Years ago I had a minor eye operation that required my eye be covered for a time. I attended THE EVENT of the year wearing an eye patch which matched my dress and which I decorated with crystals and sequins. The optimist in me decided this is how I need to manage my current situation. It is here, it’s not going away anytime soon, so get used to it and get on with it.

I have a walking cane which is brightly painted so I can pretend it is a fashion, not a health, statement. In a few weeks, I’m travelling interstate for a family function so I may just need another walking stick, this one decorated to match my outfit – sequins at high noon perhaps? Added advantage – I won’t have to walk miles in the airport, I can have a wheelchair – now that is a WIN WIN! (What are the odds that this time the flight departs from the closest gate to the airport entrance?)

Let’s face it I have the perfect excuse to buy new shoes – I don’t believe my specialist would be impressed if I wore 10cm high heels – and ladies you know what a bonus that is! At least I am still standing and there are so many people worse off than me. We all know about the person with no shoes who met a person with no feet!

There are more challenges ahead I’m sure, but I have an awesome husband who is treating me more like porcelain than usual; a family I can call on anytime and friends whose support is unwavering. Then there are the wonderful medical professionals for whose expertise I am so very grateful.

The sun is shining, the roses are blooming, there is beauty all around me; a lack of mobility won’t change the things which really matter.


Tell us, have you had a loss of mobility? Did it change your outlook or did you just get on with it?

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Karen O'Brien-Hall

I've had many careers in my life and loved each one! My new career blossomed when I retired and become an OAP. I am passionate about childhood literacy, books in general and my garden. I love Ballet, Opera, Concerts, Theatre, (both professional and community) and Movies. I tend to have opinions on most things and enjoy a good debate about the topic, not the person. In my thirties, I married my GOM (Gorgeous or Grumpy Old Man) the love of my life.

  1. A lack of mobility can be so debilitating. The mind has to take over and push through the pain etc., I had a good bout of Ross River last year. Thankfully I have fully recovered but the confidence I had prior to that is still returning. Karen is super fortunate to have a good supportive family. Thanks for your positive attitude.

  2. I had surgery on my ankle and foot, and had to hop about using a walking frame for support. Even the two steps down into our kitchen were beyond me. Thankfully back on both feet now. My husband was wonderful but I was wasn’t the greatest patient pain and frustration getting to me. It certainly made me look critically at our house and I have a list of fixes and ideas if either of us is mobility impaired later. Shower design and a ramp clown those two stairs among them.

  3. I live on crutches now and it’s not only getting around its trying to do jobs around the house. I’m very lucky to have my daughter here with me, if I didn’t have a scooter to go and see my friends I would be house bound. I’m only 75 but I feel a lot older and it really get you down.

  4. Great read Karen. Yes losing mobility is very confronting. I hated asking for help and found when I did some people were reluctant to do so, so I stopped asking. Can be very isolating when you live alone. Best time to find your inner strength.

  5. Just love your positive attitude , it’s so easy to become down and depressed , your a glass half full type of person !

  6. I’ve had two back operations and a new hip the hip went well but the back op went not so well the thing is it has left me with not being able to bend down to reach any thing from the floor or do my feet and that is so madning as I have a husband who hates doing my feet yes I could pay some one but I have no money to do that other than that I try to do most things but it’s getting harder as I age very scary

    3 REPLY
    • Kathy,you almost sound like a carbon copy of me!!..I had a hip replacement in January followed by a laminectomy/spinal fusion in August!!..and I can’t get down to my feet either!(husband has to put my socks on every day)…as for other foot related problems maybe your GP can refer you to a podiatrist for 5-6 FREE sessions per year…

    • Thank you for replying to me I’m sorry you are in the same boat it’s hard not to have winge but my family don’t seem to see or perhaps they have there own problems I think we have a lot in common by looking you up on face book it’s like having a twin

    • Maybe we should become Facebook friends….so we can winge together!!!
      And an added problem for me this week is that I’ve cut three fingers on my left hand(passing a garden hedger to my husband when he set it in motion!!)…only got a useable thumb and little finger for a while…ah well,what can you do??!!

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