Things may be a little different around here at The Kale Chronicles for awhile. I’ll have some guest posts. I’ll continue to paint. Mom and I will figure out some kind of cooking collaboration eventually. But, in the mean time, in case any of you have ever wondered what it is like to use a walker, I wrote a description as my morning’s writing practice. Enjoy.

painting of coffee in mug, filter cone, place mat.

Morning Coffee. 6″ x 6″ watercolor pencil. Sharyn Dimmick

The Walker Routine

I crawl or scoot to the edge of my bed to grab the walker from the foot where I left it. I stand up on my right foot and stomp-hop over to my bureau by the light from the window to pull out some thick socks. Because there is not enough light to see the socks’ color, I turn back to press the mouse: the light from my computer screen is enough to see by. I choose two red socks.

I turn and lean toward a chest, a plastic storage container where a few clothes currently rest, grabbing my holey cashmere sweater turned pajama top (I have enough worn-out cashmere for a lifetime of p.j.s). I turn again and take two steps back to the bed, where I sit and put on the socks.

Lifting the walker over a gap too narrow for it to transit, I then stand again and make my way down the hall to the head of the stairs. Using the window ledge and the banister as handholds, I lower myself down onto the top stair, left foot extended in front of me. I fold the walker and begin propelling myself down the stairs using my hands and my right foot, taking the walker with me. At the foot of the stairs I lower myself onto the narrow landing, scoot across to the last two stairs to the kitchen, unfold the walker and use my right leg and two walls to stand again.

I enter the kitchen, flipping on the light. The kettle is on the stove, but its lid is missing. I scan for the lid, feeling frustrated for a moment, until I see it sitting in the dish drainer. I stomp-hop over to the sink and fill the kettle half-full of cold water, pivoting to set it on the burner and turn the burner on. I tuck the red plastic filter cone and metal cup under my arm. Then it is back to the far counter, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, pushing the step ladder out of the way once, twice, three times to free access to the coffee and cereal cabinet. Leaning on the counter with my left elbow, I take out my coffee canister and a metal coffee measure. Then I stretch up as straight as I can to pull a coffee filter from the box on the second shelf.

Leaning on the counter again, I use two hands to open my coffee canister — it has a ring-pull mechanism that takes considerable strength to break the air lock. I measure two scoops of coffee beans into the grinder, plug it in and press on the lid to grind the beans. One-handed doesn’t work so well, so I lean both hands on the grinder. I fold out the paper cone into the red filter and aim the ground coffee into the cone, first from the grinder, then from the lid.

The easiest way to move objects when using a walker is to set them on a surface and then pivot to set them on another surface. I am able to set the filter cone on the edge of the stove. Then I stomp, stomp, stomp to the cupboard for a coffee mug and a Pyrex measuring cup: if I’m going to go through this for coffee it is going to be a perfectly-made cup of coffee.

By now the water is boiling. I turn it off and pour one cup over my coffee grounds, then one-quarter cup. Ten ounces of decaf is my daily ration. While the coffee drips. I take the long way around to the refrigerator: it is just steps from the stove, but the walker will not go through on that side, so I walk all the way around the stove island to get the half and half, in a carton, thankfully, not a pitcher. Using the pivoting transfer technique I move the half and half from the refrigerator to the counter to the stove to the opposite counter.

I stomp, stomp, stomp back to the first counter to get a muffin out of the dish cupboard, stomp, stomp, stomp to the microwave to heat it. I am getting tired and pull it out and put it on a saucer after twenty-five seconds. Pivot-transfer to stove. Pivot-transfer to counter. Pivot-transfer to edge of breakfast room credenza. Pivot-transfer to table. Remove filter cone from coffee mug and place on metal cup. Pivot-transfer coffee-mug to counter. Pivot-transfer to credenza. Pivot-transfer to table. Stomp back for half and half. Pivot-transfer, pivot-transfer, pivot-transfer.

Sit down. Ah. Prop left foot over rung of walker. Pour half and half in coffee. Take bite of muffin. Chew. Drink more coffee. Consider getting cut grapefruit from fridge. Decide it is too much work. Take saucer and mug back to kitchen: if I am careful and dishes are empty I can hold one item between each thumb and some fingers and still grasp the walker firmly. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Reverse stomp. Retrieve half and half by pivot-transfer method and return it to fridge.

Stomp over to sink. Open cabinet. Bend down over top of walker, balancing to get compost can. Set compost can on edge of sink. Stomp back for used coffee filter. Place in compost. Replace compost under sink. Dabble hand in dishwater.

Grab clean water bottle for return trip upstairs. Stomp to foot of stairs. Sit. Fold walker. The easiest way to climb is to use a cross-wise technique: use left hand to grab a few stairs behind you. Use right foot to push off lower stair. Use right hand to hold folded walker steady against wall. Move water bottle up a few steps with right hand. Move walker with right hand. Move self with right foot and left hand. By the time I reach the landing I am sweating.

I gain the upstairs hallway, set my water bottle on the banister, unfold the walker, kneel and stand. I hook my thumb through the plastic loop on the water bottle lid and head for the bathroom. I don’t bother with closing the door: it is enough to set the water bottle on the counter, stomp across the floor to the commode and use the window ledge and sink edge to balance to pull down my pajama pants and pull my robe out of the way. Stand again.Yank pajamas up, first one side, then the other, while leaning on opposite side. Flush toilet. Wash hands. Lean against sink counter to brush teeth, which takes two hands. By now my right hip is cramping. I shift positions a bit while singing songs in my head to see that I brush long enough. Rinse toothbrush. Fill water bottle. Tuck thumb through loop. Turn and leave. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp. Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp.

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