In 2007, I was shackled to a walker for 6-7 months.1 As might be expected, I learned a lot from being an otherwise healthy-looking guy in his late 50s hobbling behind a walker: humility, patience, dexterity, resilience, and – most of all – the joy and embarrassment of loved ones and strangers going out of their way to help.
My misanthropic resolve was, in fact especially tested in traffic-pedestrian confrontations. In public roads and parking lots, folks routine;y stopped their cars to let me limp across their path. For the purposes of this assertion, “folks” includes families in station wagons, teamsters driving 18-wheelers, teenagers in junkers unimpaired by mufflers but sporting speakers larger than my then-teenaged sons, elderly ladies who could barely peer over their steering wheels, wannabe studs in their mid-life crisis Corvettes, entire motorcycle clubs (twice), and a police officer in a squad car with siren blaring. On one occasion, a burly, heavily tattooed, unrepentant redneck (being a hillbilly myself, I can recognize a related species) in an old Ford pickup equipped with a rifle rack and a bumper sticker affirming his convictions re the Second Amendment not only halted his own forward movement but departed his vehicle to stand in the middle of the boulevard where he adamantly insisted that those approaching from the opposite direction stop as well.
To help me out, everyone stopped, regardless of the race or age of the driver, the type of automobile, the number of people in the car, the time of day, the location … EXCEPT
Well, everybody yielded to me except – and I can recall a half-dozen examples of this sort – women who appeared to be in their late 20s to early 40s driving SUVs. Why? Beats me. It’s just an observation.
- After surgery to repair a broken hip, I was instructed that I COULD NOT PLACE ANY WEIGHT WHATSOEVER ON MY AFFLICTED LEG. (yes, I know employing all caps is impolite. but when my surgeon addressed this issue, he spoke in all caps). It was thus that yet another of my narcissistic defenses bit the dust. When the young, attractive. vivacious physical therapist suggested that a walker might prove safer as well as easier and more efficient to use than crutches, I, being of the manly man persuasion, informed the young lady that he would keep an open mind but frankly saw himself more an injured jock on crutches than a crazy old codger limping behind a walker with a macramé pouch dangling from the crossbar. That notion persisted no longer than the therapist’s explanation of the maneuver required to approach a toilet on crutches if one is restricted to the use of one leg. It was at that point that I began hopping behind my assistive walking device. [↩]