Monday, May 10, 2010

No Picture Needed

It’s been a while since I wrote about life with this bionic leg. My day to day is very similar to most moms, and the parts that aren’t the same I forget are not ‘normal’.

I go in periodically for leg adjustments. I have a leg guy (Yes, I assume he’s a ‘leg man’, in case you were wondering). He puts pads in my socket or adjusts the way my foot sits on my metal ankle. With a few turns of the screwdriver he can give me a more comfortable gait.

But those visits are squeezed in between trips to the grocery store and treks to the pediatrician. My kids think nothing of me saying, “Today I’m getting the oil in the car changed and going to get a leg adjustment.” It’s been a part of their lives for six years now. Nothing odd about the fact mom has a leg guy, and sees him a few times a month.

But some days I definitely feel the disparity between me and you two legged people. I had one of those days on Saturday.

My oldest son is on the Varsity track team. Some meets are after school and some are on the weekends. Most of them are very long. Saturday was no different. We were at the high school track for most of the afternoon. After sucking down a few bottles of water it was eventually time to find the ladies room.

I stood in line with a handful of young, athletic female track stars in their tiny uniforms that they filled out perfectly, and no, it did not make me feel old or fat (okay, maybe a little).

We stood with our backs to a chain link fence, eyeing the small wooden door that led to our refuge. I had never been to this specific school’s track so this restroom was a new one for me. I assumed there were more than a couple of stalls for the female gender’s needs, since it was such a big school and such a large track meet.

But I was wrong. Very wrong. When it was finally my turn and my bladder was more than ready for relief, I heard a flush that signaled it was my turn. As the girl who had just finished washed her hands, I pushed open the creaky wooden door to make my way inside. And then I saw what I’d been so patiently waiting for. Indeed there were only two stalls. Two VERY SMALL stalls. And when I opened the door to the empty one I got my next surprise.

The architect of this particular restroom must have been a man. A man who was angry about women even getting stalls, while men had to relieve themselves right next to complete strangers into large impersonal urinals. And boy did he get his vengeance.

The stall was so small that the door practically hit the front of the toilet bowl when fully closed.

Now I am not a small person. I am tall and I am big boned (that’s what I’m calling it now). And I am not exaggerating to say that not only was the act of pulling down my jeans difficult, in such cramped quarters, actually sitting down brought its own challenges. My knees pushed against the door, straining the tiny metal lock. With my back fully resting on the tank, and my knees firmly pressed against the door, I finally, oh finally was able to do my business.

I think we can skip the next part. I am hoping you can imagine, without too much detail, what I looked like crammed in that tiny toilet. Now just imagine trying to wipe.

Like I said, you can use your imagination on this one. Let’s just say it was something close to a circus trick.

But the worst was yet to come. I am sure you are wondering why I started this post talking about my metal leg and segued into a horrible potty story. Well here’s where it got tricky.

When you have a metal leg, standing up from a seated position is a different kind of affair. You two legged people just stand up. You have two sets of muscles that work together and push you out of that chair, or in our case, toilet seat.

But most amputees I know cannot do that motion. It’s not a big deal. We just have to lean forward more, and usually push off of something to get momentum. In church I grab the pew in front of me. On the couch I scoot to the front of the cushion then lean forward to take off.

But suddenly I was half naked, wedged into a small wooden box, pants on the ground, realizing I could not physically stand up again. I mean not at all. I was stuck, jammed into place. There was no space to lean forward. There was nothing to grab on to. All my tricks would not work here.

Knowing there was a growing line right outside the big door, and many impatient young ladies were mentally keeping track of how quickly people came and went, I knew I had little time to spare. And knowing there was a stall right next to me, possibly occupied by one of my son’s female friends, I knew grunting was out of the question.

So here’s what I did. I leaned forward and smashed my cheek against the rough wooden door. Then with both hands spider walking up the walls on each side, cinder block on the right, knotty pine on the left, I inched my way up. Praying I didn’t get a splinter in my cheek I slid my face up the back of that bathroom stall door.

It was not pretty and it could not be described as comfortable. But in the end I was upright again. (although I just about threw my back out trying to reach down for the waistband of my jeans…)

But I did it. When the odds were not in my favor, I succeeded. There was no way I was unlocking that stall door and leaning out into the bathroom, just to stand up. When it seemed to be impossible I made it possible. Little victories, my friend. Little victories.

The glitches of this bionic leg have pretty much been worked out by now. Or at least, most of them have. Then, out of the blue, another one surprises me.

Who knew this round would involve a microscopic bathroom stall with a very rough pine door?

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