Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Help or not...

ANOTHER challenge I face is when to let Meagan go it alone or when to help. Picking the wrong answer generates either the evil eye or increases her risk of injury. This is especially true in unfamiliar environments.

We had a very nice weekend at our place at Decatur. It does have stairs, which caused me more than a little concern at times (they do have handrails from the main floor to the upper story - but there are a couple steps coming down from the kitchen to the family room and those are particularly scary for me when she has a cup of coffee in one hand and a glass of water in the other), but I resisted the urge to help her. The act of helping implies disability, which adds to the other insults she's feeling, continuing the loss of identity and capability. But she did fine at our place, mostly because she is familiar with it. A lot of the worry is around her loss of visual capability, since she has lost her right peripheral vision, and her mind fills in the gap, she isn't always clear about the terrain, nor can she see actual hazards. It also means she doesn't always walk a straight line...a little worrisome when she was walking down the narrow dock. She does fine on even ground.

When we were getting aboard the boat to come home, there are stairs and rises at the hatchways. I was holding her arm (but on the right side and since she couldn't see me wondered if there was some strange man accosting her...) and guiding her toward the hatchway to the main deck sitting room. I said, out loud, "honey, watch your step". After she stepped through, I got the look back and the evil eye. I didn't want her to trip and I wasn't clear at all that her vision would have picked this up - but she clearly had seen it. So saying that out loud announced to the world her deficit potential - and that is not at all a comfortable thing for her. She is sensitive about this, as would we all. So I gulped and made a mental note - ok, she is fine on this boat in the future.

On the drive back to Seattle, we stopped for a quick bite to go as is our custom. She wanted a milkshake (but also couldn't pass up the chipotle turkey burger) and we stopped at the Fidalgo Inn drive in. From the car there was a car curb stop, and a short half stair before one gets to the entrance door. I figured after the boat incident I wouldn't say anything (I am not a glutton for punishment). At entrance ways, I try to get there first (to open the door if necessary) so I can be right behind her and guide her from behind if need be. I did, but as she started walking through the door at a reasonable speed, her attention was straight ahead looking at the menu on the wall. She was about to walk right into the right door jamb had I not caught her shoulder and slowed and maneuvered her to the left. She would have hit that doorway hard on her shoulder. So in that case it was good to intervene, and it was subtle, and she barely noticed the assistance, nor did I get the "good eye" - the "thanks for keeping me from being injured" look.

So it is a process of continually monitoring, being as subtle as I can in helping her, and not drawing attention to her challenges in public.

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