Linda Teeple-newest

You’ve heard of cabin fever. Gardeners, eager to plant flowers, may still be experiencing it, given the unseasonably cool May we are having. Well, I’m in the throes of wheelchair fever. As an introvert who loves her solitude, who can sit for hours reading or writing, I imagined that this stint in a wheelchair would be a breeze. WRONG.

Like my three retrievers, Panda, Hope and Faith, I sit at the window, looking longingly out at the world, all of us whining, squirming and champing at the bit when we see a squirrel and can’t get outside to enjoy its company. 

In some ways, this wheelchair provides freedom. I can get around the house quite well, although I can’t ride it down the stairs to the family and laundry rooms. I can maneuver the hallway path at Anderson Psychiatric Clinic well enough. But beyond these tiny spheres, I need help from others to get where I want or need to be.

Shortly after getting the wheelchair, I crashed headlong into the wall of my limitations. My mother-in-law had come down from Fort Wayne for a few days to help out after my surgery. She’d taken me to my very first post-surgery social event — my AAUW book discussion group — and returned me safely to the house. I wheeled myself to my bedroom to release the dogs from their kennels and assumed that Mom had followed me in and closed the door to the garage. As I followed Panda, Hope and Faith to the kitchen to let them outside, I discovered that both the door to the garage and the garage door were wide open. Hope and Faith took advantage of the opportunity to embark on an adventure.

I grabbed my walker and charged out the front door, hoping I could beckon them back, but they were nowhere to be seen. I hobbled out on the sidewalk to get a better view and could see Hope down the street. I called and called, “HOPE! FAITH! COME!” but my girls were exercising selective hearing. I barked at Mom to bring me my wheelchair, and I took off down the driveway and out into the street in pursuit of my wayward retrievers. 

“FAITH! HOPE! COME!” I shrilled at the top of my lungs as I wheeled my “Cruiser III” as fast as I could. By this time, I spotted Hope being shooed out of a neighbor’s garage and I pumped my arms as fast as I could. Finally, my neighbor, Charles Shumate, noticing my dilemma, got off his rider mower and chased my dogs homeward. Charles and Mom were able to capture the rambunctious retrievers and lead them to the house. Exhausted from the chase, I wheeled myself slowly home, relieved that this adventure concluded positively.

At the end of our driveway there is a sizable bump which prevented me from getting my chair up onto the driveway. So, I backed my chair up a few feet and took a running start, like I do with my recumbent trike. I hit the bump hard and the chair tipped completely backward, spilling me awkwardly onto the pavement. I landed with a thud, hitting my head. Charles came running down the driveway to see if I was hurt. Other than sore elbows and a sorely bruised ego, I was fine.

Unexpected things happen in life that stop us short and knock us over. It’s tough to admit that we have limited capacities. Our “best laid plans of mice and men” are dumped by the wayside, leaving us in a heap, stunned and spinning. Such events call us to slow down and turn to God for direction. 

Like my trusting Charles, who righted my wheelchair and delivered me home safely, I need to trust that God will wheel me safely where he wants me to go. But it’s tempting to keep my hands on the handrim and use my feet as rudders and breaks.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Linda Teeple’s column runs Saturdays. Teeple, an Anderson resident, can be reached at lindyteep@yahoo.com.

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