Not long after our twins were diagnosed with CP, our physical therapist began to talk with us about getting wheelchairs for them. At that time, we used a double stroller, which didn't really work well at all, but it was better than nothing. We had to use blankets to help prop them up in a sitting position and even then, they had a tendency to slide down and become extremely uncomfortable.
We made an appointment at the University Hospital in Iowa City and began the process. I struggled with the whole idea of wheelchairs. The permanence of the situation became more clear when the idea of wheelchairs were introduced.
At our appointment, they shared that I would need to come with the kids and stay at the hospital for two weeks while they were being evaluated and measured for their chairs. I hadn't counted on that scenario. Our littlest boy, Tyler, was just a toddler and I wondered if he would forget me.
The day arrived and we loaded up the kids and my things and headed back to Iowa City. They were measured and fitted for their wheelchairs during the afternoons. In the mornings, they were evaluated by doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and cognitve therapists. They were extremely fussy kids during this age and to even step out of the room to go and grab a bite to eat next door required feats of imagination. They loved Barney and Donut Man videos, so I would talk to them about mom having to get something to eat, turn on the video, rush out the door, walk/run over to the cafeteria, eat quickly and walk back just as the video was ending. If I could manage that, all was well. I think I pretty much inhaled the food and wasn't even aware what I was eating. (For some reason that I can't recall right now, the patients were served meals on that floor, but the parents that were staying had to eat next door at the hospital.)
Since I stayed so busy during the day, it wasn't too bad. But the nights were terrible. I can remember the kids finally falling asleep in a strange room. Then I would sit by the window looking out over the University of Iowa campus. There was a clock out in the center of the yard that I would look at. I cried a lot of those nights missing my other two kids. It was just a very lonely time.
One evening the staff said I had a visitor. I walked out of the room and was met by Rick and Jodie Miller. Rick had been a student at Teen Challenge where my husband worked. He and Jodie lived in a town about an hour away. They had heard we were there and had brought a whole KFC meal for us. I will never forget how their kindness felt to my heavy and lonely heart. A meal and a kind word can mean so much!
I think I was doing pretty well overall during those two weeks until they brought me a catalog with photos of various wheelchairs. Maybe they thought it was an exciting process to choose one. It wasn't. Every dream I had had up to that point now shattered into a million jagged pieces. I sat down at the little kiddie table in the room and cried.
When Dave arrived to take us home, we put the kids in their car seats and then he loaded those chairs into the back of the van. My whole body and mind felt bruised and broken.
When we arrived back at Colfax, Dave's mom was there watching our other two children. I'm sure I must have said something to her, but all I remember is going back and lying down on the bed. I couldn't even cry anymore. We sat the kids in their little red seats to watch television and I asked Dave to please put the wheelchairs somewhere that I didn't have to look at them right then. After an hour or so, I heard Dave and his mom talking in the kitchen. Faye was making supper for us. For some reason, the sound of normal activity soothed my spirit. I got up and walked in and watched her making meatballs. I am convinced that her presence helped me heal just a little that day. Everything within me felt broken. I needed something to be normal and routine and just ordinary.
The wheelchairs did help the kids. They seemed to feel so much secure in them than they had in their stroller. It wasn't the easiest thing to load two wheelchairs and go anywhere, but Dave was always so good about it. He seemed to know that on certain days, I just had to get out for awhile. Many times he would get home from work (and I'm sure he was tired) and say, "Let's load up!" I would have the kids in the van in minutes while he loaded up their chairs and we would be off for Des Moines:)
Sometimes we have to adjust.
My heart goes out to you if you are in a tough situation right now.
It wasn't supposed to be this way, you may be thinking.
Give yourself some time. Things will start to look better. It won't be this sad forever. Twenty-two years have passed since that day and there has been a lot of joy since then. There will be for you, too.
Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18