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  • Jacqueline Le Sueur

Just 6 Weeks Less-Abled : S 26 | The Simplest Things Take Such An Effort ...

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

I have come to completely understand over the past 26 days how easy it would be to 'let go', for want of a better expression.

I do not mean 'let go' as in stop living or seek to stop living. I mean 'let go' in the sense of doing housework, keeping on top of the laundry, making sure clothes are clean and hair neat and tidy, cooking a proper meal and the like. It takes a real effort to be motivated about all this when it is so hard to perform those tasks that the able-bodied do without second thought, especially when coupled with doing them only for yourself.

When your back is arthritic, you can't twist or lift much; when it is so hard to bend at the best of times lest alone when you have a foot in a cast and need to balance with crutches the smallest and simplest of tasks takes on gargantuan proportions. When you are alone, perhaps not seeing anyone for several days or longer then doing certain things just for yourself could easily cease to be important.

I am an ex-chef, I love to cook. For the past 3 weeks I have not been able to stand for more than about 5 minutes. A task I love has become painful and so I have been choosing the easiest things to eat and this becomes repetitive and boring. I have lost my joy of eating. I made the decision to reclaim this this week and I have started to cook again. I am making myself even though it is hard to stand and my foot swells. I need to. It is hard enough, mentally, eating alone every day without losing the love of food. But coupled with cooking being such a challenge I see how easily a cooked meal could turn into half a can of soup and a slice of bread and butter every day. I can understand why older folks who live alone become undernourished. I really can.

I for one, even with my prosthetic mesh abdominal wall and arthritic spine, hadn't realised until now how hard it is to put stuff in and out of the washing machine when you can't kneel. I can't bend very easily so I always kneel when I put the washing in and out of the machine. It's a physical accommodation I make without realising it ... until now when I can't kneel because of the cast so as a result I have to bend over almost double. It is difficult and painful and then I get stuck and need to push myself back up the machine housing until I am upright again. It really is enough to put me off the task - I get through it because I know it will only be for another 2.5 weeks.

When you can't stand for very long then dusting is a bit hard and cleaning the floor in the bathroom or kitchen becomes more than tricky when you can't get down on your hands and knees. I see with my own eyes how quickly dusts forms a layer when you don't whip the duster around every few days. I appreciate how easily it would be not to bother if you don't think anyone is going to come and visit. So many elderly in our society are in this position.

I am lucky. There is an end in sight for me and I do have visitors. I have a reason to keep on top of this as best I can at the moment. All being well with the surgery - that the bones have fused - the cast will be off on Nov 29th and I can begin my rehab. My usual life is waiting for me just around the corner. And yet ...

... here I am struggling mentally as well as physically post-surgery even though I have this end date. This experience really is deepening the respect I already had for anyone who looks after themselves alone on a full-time basis when they are less-abled. It is bloody hard and at times absolutely  demoralising.

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