Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Does Robert Want?

Does Robert want to use a wheelchair so he is less likely to fall and crack his head open?

After New Home suggested it, I was so busy being opposed to the idea while secretly weighing the pros and cons of the question and considering how being in a wheelchair would affect his long-term ability to walk and wondering whether or not it was too soon to make him use a wheelchair or thinking that maybe I was too late in making him use a wheelchair that I . . . neglected to ask Robert what he wanted. Oops!

This isn’t completely surprising, though, since I do tend to hit a “9” on the Control Freak scale with “10” being a seriously out of control, completely unreasonable Control Freak. Which I am not. At all. Not even close. (Please ignore Hubby in the background screaming “15”).

The brunch on Mother’s Day has really made me rethink my adamant opposition to the wheelchair idea.

Brunch was fun and delicious and spent with people I absolutely adore (Hubby, Daughter, Robert and in-laws – yes, I am one of the lucky ones who adores my in-laws), but it involved a two hour wait, weaving in and out of crowds and lots of walking. Thankfully, Robert didn’t have any seizures and didn’t fall but he had great difficulty walking. His right foot wanted to shuffle when he thought it was moving forward, making him lurch and lunge while holding onto his walker (which has 4 wheels – look out, people!). I held on to his arm to balance him while telling him to concentrate on picking up his foot and keeping an eye on my daughter as she cut us a path through the crowd. Hubby took Robert to the bathroom when needed and waited patiently for him since that is an adventure in itself. I picked out his food from the buffet while Robert sat at the table instead of risking him landing face first in the omelet station.

It was truly a team effort to keep him upright.

A wheelchair would have made things much more convenient but that’s exactly my dilemma. I don’t want to put Robert in a wheelchair just for convenience (mine or the New Home’s).

When I finally stopped analyzing the suggestion posed by New Home and realized (due to some gentle nudging by friends, family and readers) Robert’s opinion should be considered, I broached the subject with him.

What would you feel about using your wheelchair most of the time, Robert? You wouldn’t fall and hurt yourself. It might be easier for you to get around. What do you think?

“I can walk.”

Well, yes, you can walk. This would just be so you don’t fall.

“I don’t fall much.”

Okay, but you have six staples in your head because you fell down last week. I just don’t want you to get hurt.

“I can walk.”

Clearly, I have his answer no matter how I frame the question. However, not to be dismissive – well, to be a little dismissive – Robert is not the best judge of what is best for him. Robert doesn’t always make safe decisions and always thinks he can do more than he actually can. Which is a great attitude since it’s kept him determined to do things for himself (like getting dressed or grooming himself). When it comes to safety, though, Other Brother and I have to have the final say. I hate to be so dictatorial but we are responsible for keeping him safe.

I don’t want to be over-reactive and keep him “too safe,” in a bubble, (or bubble-wrapped as a doctor recently suggested) but I do want him safe. The recent head gash – even while wearing a helmet – is causing me to embrace my inner Overprotective, Overbearing, Over-reactive self.

I have to remind myself that balance is key (in so many ways!). I will just take this decision in baby steps, make a list of pros and cons as a reader suggests and use a wheelchair when the situation warrants it. It will have to be a day to day decision. At least I seem to have Robert’s agreement to use a wheelchair if I take him to the State Fair this year or when we go to brunch again.

The rest of the time (at least for now) as he says – he can walk!

And I’ll be ready to catch him if he’s headed for the floor.


Heidi Alberti & Atticus Uncensored said...

Trish, your dedication and love for your brother warms my heart... he is so incredibly blessed to have you as his sister!
As you said, it is encouraging that Robert wants to try and do things himself -- that's important for his mental well-being -- but you have to be the one to think about safety.
It sounds like you've come to a good decision that serves all of you -- using the wheelchair in a brunch, or state fair situation makes sense, but letting him feel independent w/o the chair is also important. You are doing a fantastic job, Trish! I am humbled by you...

Heidi & Atticus
"commentary to give you paws..."

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, Heidi. You are very kind. Things change so often I really have to keep on my toes and don't always think I'm doing enough. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to check on me and Robert! Now I need to check up on you and Atticus. Enjoy the sunshine today. :-)