72. Role Reversal

Right after this photo Kpop said, "How 'bout we trade [places]?"  She ended up trying to sit on Joshie's lap but Uncle Ernie rescued him and put K back in her chair.

Right after this photo Kpop said, “How ’bout we trade [places]?” She ended up trying to sit on Joshie’s lap but Uncle Ernie rescued him and put K back in her chair.

When I met PT37 in the waiting room last Thursday she was wearing a gait belt around her waist.  It was funny to see one on someone besides me and it got even funnier when I got to hold the gait belt while we walked into the gym, me pretending to be the therapist while she was the patient.  I don’t think we fooled anyone.  My peg leg and poor guarding technique diminished our credibility.  But it was still a fun role reversal, even if it didn’t last.  Pretty soon I was the one wearing the belt as usual while we practiced climbing stairs.  Lots of stairs.

One day a few months after we flew home I was practicing with my walker in the hallway but then got so tired I had to sit down on it and had Mommy push me the additional 15 feet to my bed (I still slept downstairs at that point).  We laughed the whole way, but the thought that I was so glad she was pushing me instead of the other way around sobered me right up.

For many years I told Mom that when the time came I’d hire her a chauffeur and we would leisurely stroll through various shopping centers, have lunch at Nordstrom Café and enjoy ourselves in general.  I never thought it would be like this but now she (and Tanpo) drive me everywhere and walk me around the mall.

I know what it’s like to be the child of a sick parent.  Both Mom and Dad have had serious illnesses in the past, which is probably why I got used to hospital visitation and enjoyed it in my able-bodied days.  When the tables were turned and I had to live in one (three, actually), I decided I was so glad I was the one who got sick and not Mom and Dad because I don’t think I could take that. The one thought that held me back as I plotted my escape (tried to elope) from Therapy Boot Camp was that on the off chance that this situation was real and not a dream, I did not want to leave Mom and Dad at the hospital alone.

Sometimes I dig through a box of cards people sent me – the cards span the time from when I was asleep to soon after we came home.    (BTW, if you wrote me a card then, thank you so much xoxo.  I still haven’t seen all of the things people sent me – a lot of it is in storage – but I understand there were many tokens of love and encouragement.  I appreciate your kindness.)  RSKL wrote me a note that said something about how she was imagining if our roles were reversed – she knew I’d be praying for her like crazy, which was what she was doing for me now.  Of course, her original words were very eloquent and sounded so much better, but I can’t remember them except for the gist.   We grew up together so I think RSKL has a good grasp on how I’d respond to a given situation.   Just the thought of our roles being reversed makes me quiver on the inside.  Some of my friends tear up at the mention of the onset of my illness.   Even though I’m there trying to put a brave face on things and make them laugh, the memory of how it felt to be on the receiving end of bad news about a loved one is often too much to handle.   So even though recovery can be a rough road I’m thankful I’m the one who gets to ride in the chair, not the one who has to push it.