The call came at three-thirty that Friday afternoon. My phone didn’t recognize the number, and I didn’t recognize the area code. “Either somebody wants to sell me something or it’s a wrong number,” I thought. But I was bored and answered it.
“Hello,” I said, poised to flip the flip phone shut at the first sign of telemarketing.
“Hey, Mr. Harris, how are you?”
“I’m fine. How are you?” I asked, cautiously. The voice was vaguely familiar, but too jovial, like the voice of someone about to offer to take all my money in return for something I neither need and nor want.
“This is Lance from NuMotion, and I have your wheelchair.”
“Wonderful!” That’s not exactly what I said. All I got out was a series of gleefully incoherent noises in an effort to say, “Wonderful!”
“I won’t be able to get to you today, but if it’s OK, I’ll be there Monday sometime between ten and eleven.”
“I’ll be here,” I said with authority.
“Will your aide be there?”
“I don’t have an aide.”
“You transfer independently?”
“Well, I’m going to give you real workout. It’ll take about an hour.”
“OK, I’ll see you Monday between ten and eleven.”
In my post-call elation, I chuckled at the notion of Lance thinking I’d need an aide to help me get from the old wheelchair to the new one. But the words “real workout” kept bouncing around in my head. And the more they bounced, the more convinced I became that I would need someone to help me do whatever Lance was planning to have me do.
One of the advantages of being a father is having kids to impose on. With that in mind I called Russ and asked if there was any way he could come over for an hour or two on Monday.
“Not a problem,” he said. “Karen and I were going to bring some hot dogs and stuff over for Memorial Day. We’ll do it for lunch instead of dinner.”
That’s when I remembered that the Monday in question was Memorial Day. What if Lance forgot about the holiday, too? I told Russ I’d call him if Lance called to reschedule. For the rest of the weekend, I was as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. Every thought I had involved the wheelchair. When I wasn’t imagining Lance guiding the chair into the apartment Monday morning, I was imaging my disappointment when the phone rang and Lance told me he’d forgotten about Memorial Day and wasn’t sure when he’d deliver my chair.
I didn’t sleep at much Sunday night, and got up at three in the morning. At quarter of ten, I heard the jingling of a dog collar in the the hall. When the it got right outside my door, I said, “Come in.” Karen and Russ followed Molly in. After a few minutes of idle conversation, Russ said, “That must be him now; a NuMotion truck just went by.” Then my phone rang. “Hey, this is Lance. I’m here at the door, can you come let me in?” I told him I’d send Russ, who went out my door and returned moments later with Lance and the new chair.
Lance had me get into the new chair. And once I did, he took a picture of me. Then attached the brace designed to keep me from leaning to the left. It’s about eight inches long by four inches high and fits between the armrest and my armpit. He got me situated with it and took another picture, in which I was sitting straight and tall.
Lance asked if I was aware of how much I had been leaning as I sat in the chair. I was. Jim, a resident here, brings his camera to all the Covenant Woods’ social events and takes pictures of everybody who will let him. A day or two later, he goes around and gives people the pictures he took of them. If his pictures of me had been taken in front of the face of a clock, my head would be on the two.
With my posture improved everything is much easier, especially late in the day. Sitting up straight, or as straight as I could, in the old chair was hard work, and by evening sitting up was hardly worth the effort.
The new chair also reclines. It not only reclines, it really reclines. I didn’t ask at what angle I’m lying when the chair reclines and the foot plates come up and straighten my legs. It feels like it must be 45 degrees, but I don’t know. In order to keep my feet from swelling, Lance suggested I get in that position for five minutes every hour. I don’t do it that often, but I do put in the time. I recline like that three or four times a day, often for an hour or more at a time. I don’t know what it is about being at that angle with my feet up and my head down that makes it so conducive to sleep.
Best of all, I can go outside and make a lap or two around the building. It ain’t walking, but it’s the next best thing.