Take A Seat And Give Me One, Too

, , , , , , | Working | January 13, 2021

Despite the health crisis, I have driven a close friend in for a wheelchair assessment. He has fibromyalgia along with another nerve condition that makes it nearly impossible for him to walk more than about twenty feet at any one time. The fibro also makes it impossible for him to use a self-propelled wheelchair. This appointment is to get a doctor to sign off on a motorized chair so that his insurance will pay for it.

I dropped him off as close to the front door as possible and go to park the car. The entrance to the parking garage is around the corner. The building itself is facing a pier that is now a park built out into the water.

My friend texts me after I drop him at the front door.

Friend: “They told me I’m too early and they won’t let me borrow a chair. Can you come back and help me walk over to sit somewhere?”

Me: “Be right there.”

I walked out to the end of the pier to enjoy the view, so after power-walking back, I find him barely upright, leaning heavily on his cane, standing in the front door of the building, blocking traffic due to people trying to keep six feet minimum distance from each other. I offer him my arm.

Me: “Grab hold. I saw a bench to the right.”

We are both wearing masks, but we rode down in a car with less than a foot between us. Helping him walk isn’t that much closer contact than we’ve already had today, and I know he’s been extremely isolated, never leaving his house except for doctor visits.

He takes two steps and his left leg gives out. He ends up on the ground and I end up slamming my right knee into the concrete because my leg buckled under his weight.

A security guard comes running over.

Security Guard: “What happened?”

I tell him and ask for a wheelchair and note that the front desk wouldn’t give my friend one. All the while, I’m helping my buddy move over enough that he isn’t sprawled in the door of the building and ignoring my now aching knee. The security guard is a good sport. He shakes his head and brings us a pushchair — not a regular wheelchair, but better than nothing.

Me: *To the guard* “Thank you so much! I don’t know why they wouldn’t give him one, given why he’s here.”

The guard helps me get my buddy into the pushchair.

Security Guard: “Why is he here?”

Me: “He’s getting doctor approval for a wheelchair.”

I don’t normally speak for my friend, but I can tell he is in too much pain to talk, and I want to make sure this guy knows that it is stupid to not let my friend borrow a chair. The security guard just shakes his head again. I can see that he isn’t happy with the front desk guy. I ignore it, as there isn’t much I can do beyond what I’ve already done, and, since we can’t go upstairs because we’re too early for the appointment, I ask my friend if he wants me to push him out to the end of the pier to watch the water.

My friend nods his approval, so I thank the guard again and push my buddy out to enjoy the fresh air. We’re far enough from people we could take our masks off and enjoy the salt air. Upon returning to the building for the appointment, the guard sees us and checks that everything is all right. We’re both okay, so I thank him again. The guard says to get him when we’re leaving so I can grab the car and he can help my buddy out.

It ended well! My buddy got his doctor’s approval for his motorized chair, and the security guard was true to his word when we left and even gave me a coupon for extra off the parking cost. He was also very nice about helping get my friend in the car.

I only hope the person at the front desk learns from this! Just because someone is upright in that moment, it does not mean it’s easy or even possible for them to stay that way!

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