Saturday, January 25, 2014


Electric Cart

From time to time, I have been truly stranded. I have been stuck in a bed, a chair, in a room or some other place that I don't want to be, with no way to leave. I have woken up unable to to climb out of my bed. I have found myself on the couch unable to reach my crutches. I've had a child take off in my wheelchair and leave me stuck. I have crawled like a baby across rooms and been carried. It is a vulnerable thing to be stranded. Somehow, I never feel relaxed like a cartoon man in tattered clothes sunning himself on an island beach waiting for rescue. It is pure frustration to be stranded, stuck and stunted. It is the battle against my flawed body to accomplish my goals at it's extreme low.

I can forget where I put my crutches the same way someone else might misplace their phone or keys. Nothing like forgetting your legs, right? I expect on my worst of days to be besieged by frustration and I plan accordingly. The trouble is that sometimes it's a good day physically and something completely out of my control strands me. Those days knock the wind out of me.

It is hardest when an overly physical task sprung on me: a wet bed in middle of the night, a broken pipe under the sink or any of those day to day emergencies that happen to everyone. Things that wear on my joints and test the limits of my fused spine. I take them in stride, but they always cost me. I balance things as much as I can, because that's what Moms do.

I have a friend who left her wheelchair in the driveway when she transferred into the car and didn't realized she didn't have it in the car until she was pulling into a parking space at her destination. Stranded. Another disabled mom friend of mine recently went shopping prior to a snow storm and couldn't find an electric cart that functioned. Not one electric cart with a charge in the whole store and no one who cared. Stranded.

I had a similar experience recently with a happier resolution. I went to Target bright and early, grabbed a electric cart and went on my way. I picked up everything on my lengthy list working my way to the back of the store. It was there, of course that the battery died. There I was perched on a paperweight, in the back of this sprawling store. I was mildly irritated until I turned around and saw another woman in the same situation, a handful of aisles behind me. She was older and heavier than me, but she had a shopping companion. I'd say the competition for who was worse off was a draw. My basket was ridiculously full and I didn't want to abandon my haul to find help. I sat there scanning the aisles and debating whether to just walk out. I couldn't bear the thought of being stuck or giving up after my trip was all but done.


Finally, I saw someone coming and felt completely relieved- for about two seconds. He passed me on his way to rescue the other lady. He swapped her bum cart for a new one. I waved him over, now visibly upset, and he explained that he just gave her the last charged chart in the store. I looked from my cart to him in dismay, but before I could embarrass myself with any further emotional display he offered to fetch a cart. He said he would load and push it for me. While he was gone the rescued lady's second cart ran out of steam too! It was almost so ridiculous it was funny. That poor woman.

My hero followed through, cheerfully getting quite the cardio-workout placing all my stuff in a regular cart. He walked me through my last few items and on to the checkout line. He unloaded everything on to the belt and disappeared to save the other victim of the-day-all-the-batteries-died. The managers were appalled by the situation and my new friend even came back to help me get everything in the car.

I've been lucky a few times and not so lucky many more times. I think everyone has those moments, but they are more routine when you have mobility issues. I find being prepared: shopping early so the carts are still plugged in from the night before, not patronizing stores that are too hard to manage, stocking up on things when I'm out so that if I can't get out later we have them, being very vocal with management when there's an issue in hopes it won't happen again...and so on. Somethings are just beyond our control even if we do everything we can to prepare there will always be surprises. "Pick, yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again..."


  1. How about when you go to a theme park and your wheelchair has a flat and management doesn't want to lend you one of their best up rentals? Love ya! Sandy

  2. I forgot about that! We pushed my chair around with flat tires, didn't we? That day was the worst.

  3. Katie, just keep writing! You give my workdays--and my life--such perspective and I am so grateful for what you share and how matter-of-factly and uncomplainingly you share it. Brava! -Carole