Wednesday, January 26, 2011

physical caregiving Multiple Sclerosis

Physical caregiving intertwines everything and anything you do for so many, in our story it’s about Multiple Sclerosis caregiving.

Tuesday night our wheelchair van suddenly sputtered and stopped running. Coasting to a stop we basically ended up half on a pseudo-shoulder and half in a corn field.

No problemo! I’ll call AAA. I suspected it ran out of gas, the gas gauge has been wonky ever since we were rear ended last Summer. Keywords like wheelchair van and wheelchair passenger escalated the response from simply sending a can of gas to dispatching a special tow truck which would take over 45 minutes, and suggested emergency rescue by police or EMS for Patti since it was below freezing.

Turning to Patti I explained “it could get real interesting” but in the meantime we could always tell ghost stories. We were in a corn field, remember Stephen King’s Children of the Corn?

As Patti glanced out the window, I screeched at her in my best psychotic child voice, “I will send outlanders amongst you: a man and a woman!”

Jumping almost out of her chair, she grouched back at me, “You can be such an asshole! Now just give me a ciggie.”

Obviously she was going to be no fun to share the waiting time with so I called our daughter who rendezvoused with our other car.

I figured that if Jack LaLanne at 60 could swim San Francisco Bay handcuffed and shackled towing a 1000 lb boat, then I could get Patti out of our van through this corn field and into our car. This one’s for you Jack!

Sensors in our ramp wanted nothing to do with the terrain so switching to manual I dragged it open to an interestingly elevated deployment, nearly jumping out of my own skin hearing sounds of snapping and crunching behind me. It seems our daughter had decided to clear a path by stomping corn stalks.

Accompanied to a soundtrack of exclamations and expletives the operation was a success; exiting up the ramp, plowing Patti’s chair across the frozen, snow crusted terrain, and improvising an all terrain one person transfer lifting her out of the chair and into the car while Megan simultaneously pulled her in from inside.  

Leaving Megan with the van, listening to the State of the Union on the radio (the State of the Union is always a parallel universe for us caregiving families), I took Patti on to her care facility physically transferring her out of the car into her wheelchair and reversing the process into bed.

AAA was completing their visit as I returned to the corn field. A little gas had the van running just fine. Even the police finally pulled up. Apparently different sides of the street are different police jurisdictions and 'somehow' the address became 'confused'.   

Somewhere in a Pennsylvania corn field a farmer may notice a peculiar crop circle  - just another mystery in that thing called physical caregiving.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


  1. What a story! I'm glad to hear that all turned out well, but I'm sure there were a few hairy moments. Take care, and good luck.

  2. I have a similar story, but ours is worse than a tank of gas. It keeps breaking down, so we bought a clunker van. My daughter brought it to us, so I just drove into the clunker to get home. Your adventure was more difficult! A great memory too....

  3. Applauding your resourcefulness. [sound of hands clapping] I suppose that's a necessary talent for you as such a dedicated caregiver.


  4. Holy Tamoly! I was just flying home the other day from being with family. As I looked down on agricultural fields, I was contemplating the ocurrence of mysterious crop circles for some reason. Am sure no one could have guessed the story behind your mini-crop trampled circle.

    Glad you're all well.


  5. always an adventure, isn't it Patrick? And somehow I'm thinking even in the midst of it all, you still made it a fun one for Patti. Glad it all worked out and kudos to AAA for getting there ASAP!!


  6. I read this, think about how I'd respond if it happened to Jennifer and me, and I only hope I could handle it as well as you did. You are a champion for sure, Patrick! Dan


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