Thursday, November 21, 2019

Trapped by the elements

   I went out on my own late on Tuesday morning.  It was a quick outing, about an hour – I went by the credit union and a bakery and then sat for ten minutes or so in a park-like quadrangle at Pomona College – but I wanted to be sure to get out.
   It was bittersweet.  Mostly bitter.  I had other things I was doing that day, but, as I say, I wanted to get out on my own like this.  One more time. 
   Sure enough, as I was heading home, I could feel the cold coming on.  That night, it began raining for the first time this Fall, and, according to the weather forecast, it will pretty much stay in the 60’s in the next ten days. 
   As I have learned in the last two months or so, I can’t go out when it’s below 80 degrees, maybe a bit lower.  Given the neuropathy I now have, my arm (and other limbs) tighten up all the more when it’s cooler, and I can have difficulty driving my chair. Things only get worse when it’s windy or damp.
   To say the least, this isn’t good when I’m crossing streets and railroad tracks.  
   So, it looks like I’ll be relying on rides to go out for a few months.  This is really hard. 
   It’s hard, because it was only in the Spring when I began going out on my own, began enjoying the freedom that that gave me, after convalescing for two years after my spinal surgery. 
   It’s also hard, because Fall is my favorite season, and I always loved going out in my chair when it was chilly and cold and when Claremont is particularly lovely.
   I should be thankful that I don’t live in Vermont or Massachusetts or many other places where it gets cold for real and where snow isn’t just on the nearby mountains – a pretty postcard we live in here.  A friend swears it will be 80 degrees on New Year’s Day “like it always is for the Rose parade.” I’m not so sure about that, but if it is – good – I’ll go out for a celebratory spin around the block (I’ll also fear the more drought and fires to come).
   Also, I want to explore if there are different clothes that I can wear that won’t be too difficult to put on and take off – another issue I deal with now – and that are warm enough for me when going outside but not too warm when I’m inside.  Unfortunately, with the harness that now holds me up in my chair, it’s not possible to put sweaters, jackets or hoodies – I loved hoodies – on me when I go out.  I have a very nice, very warm felt poncho that a friend made for me, but not seeing my hand while I’m driving could be risky, at least when I’m on my own.  I recently tried putting on a flannel shirt again after thinking it was too difficult to put on and take off and found it to be noticeably warm, so maybe that, plus a beanie, will allow me to go out when it’s cooler, if not really, really cold.  I will experiment and try out other things (any suggestions?).
   It was bad enough when, before the surgery, I would let rain stop me from going out in my chair (I didn’t years ago). Later on Tuesday night, when it did get much colder and you could smell the rain coming, my overnight attendant, who has worked for me for about a year and maybe a half, commented that, from what she knows about me, which is limited, I’d be out and about as soon as the storm is over. 
   If only!  She has no idea. 

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