I just turned 74 years old, and I’ve done so many things in my life, I could never tell it all. I’ve been a genealogist, a paralegal, an accountant, studied music, and performed in theater, though I never made it out of the amateur ranks in the last two. I served in the Air Force during Vietnam. I would never have imagined that a time would come when I couldn’t go hiking, or perform, or even do daily chores without being in pain. That’s the situation I found myself in.
One Accident Changed Everything
My children will tell you that they have seen me do wild things, like carry a six-foot sofa into the house when we moved. I taught them to fish, and we used to go hiking. Over the years, I did have problems with my knees, and the problems got worse. The cartilage in my knees wore out. Still, I had been active and pretty healthy my whole life, until 2006, when a car rear-ended me.
I got a double concussion and a slipped disc. The slipped disc causes severe back pain when I stand for more than about five or ten minutes. That and the lack of cartilage in my knees make it hard to be on my feet. To get around my apartment, I use a little hair salon stool on five wheels because it takes the weight off my joints. I use a power chair to take the trash out or go to Walmart or shopping. As a result, I haven’t gotten much exercise over the last few years, and my weight has risen.
When I first saw the LifeGlider two years ago, I was sure it was something I could use to get back on my feet. I saw a picture of a dear lady (Josie Ingber) who was using it to stand and write on a blackboard. I said, “If she can do that, so can I!” I also saw a video of an amputee with one leg who was able to get around his house with the LifeGlider.
A Payment Plan Made the LifeGlider Affordable
The problem was, I couldn’t afford it at the time. My doctor at the V.A. actually prescribed the LifeGlider for me when I showed it to her, but it hasn’t been approved by the V.A. or by Medicare. Instead, the V.A. gave me a huge rollator. I tried to use it, but I had to suspend my weight from my shoulders to walk. It did not work well. It made my shoulders hurt. I really liked the idea of being supported at the waist and hands-free with the LifeGlider.
Then, last winter, LifeGlider, and Klarna set up a pay-as-you-go type thing (monthly installment plans pending financing approval). I jumped at it. My son paid for part of it as a Christmas present.
Walking Farther, Losing Weight, and Getting Chores Done
I got it for Christmas, and it arrived a couple of days later. When I first tried it out, it was at five or six o’clock in the morning when nobody was out in my retirement community. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of everybody. But I wasn’t just walking. I was running! I went up and down the sidewalk in front of my apartment building, about 300 feet round trip. Afterward, I was panting like I’d run a marathon. I couldn’t believe how out of shape I was.
I started out just going up and down in front of my apartment building. Then I progressed to going to the bottom of the hill, about 100 yards away, and back. Over time, I worked up to two laps, then three. As soon as I can do four laps, I’ll try going around the block. I had been overweight and out of shape. Now, up and moving again, I have lost 25 pounds. I only need to lose 20 more, and the doctors will be able to replace my knee.
Everything around the house is easier to do now. I used to wash just a few dishes at a time because it was too painful to stand at the sink. I tried sitting on the salon stool and doing dishes, but I tended to get almost as much water on me as I did the dishes. Now I can stand with the LifeGlider and wash them all at once. Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor only takes about 20 minutes now, and it used to take me an hour and a half or more!
Planning to Do More of What I Love: The Scottish Games
I’m still figuring out what all I can do with the LifeGlider. One thing I’d like to try is volunteering at the Scottish Games again. When I lived in Maine, I was the convener for Clan Mackintosh at The Maine Highland Games and Scottish Festival. I would also sometimes attend the New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire, and help out with the clan tent.
For those who don’t know about the Highland Games or Scottish games, they are a meeting place for people with Scottish ancestors. There are sporting events (you may have seen a picture of someone tossing a caber (basically a tree trunk about 20 feet long and weighing around 100 pounds). There are also food tents with Scottish or other Celtic foods (the pastries are to die for). Then there are the clan tents. Sometimes there are 100 or more clans. Each tent is a center for information about that particular clan – history, tartans, enrollment, etc.
I used to set up my tent, transporting books, pictures, and souvenirs from when I went to Scotland. Now I might need someone to help me. However, I can stand with my LifeGlider to talk to people about my clan, maybe even play my harp or guitar.
The LifeGlider Can Change Lives for People, Vets with Disabilities
I think the Lord let my accident happen to me so I could better understand what disabled people have to go through. I know now how hard it is to get around. In a power chair, I discovered that there aren’t enough sidewalks and how much it hurts for someone with a back injury to go over rumble strips when you have to travel in the street. Even uneven sidewalks can jar your back. Going over the edge of asphalt driveways isn’t fun either. The edges aren’t smoothed down and sometimes there’s a couple of inches difference.
As someone who has experienced all that, I can tell you the LifeGlider is the best thing I’ve found. Getting around is still challenging, but it is easier now. There’s also something about being able to stand up straight and look people in the eye and to walk with your head held high. Maybe it’s because I was in the military, I don’t know, but I like to face people and not go around doing the “turtle hump” with a walker.
I know the biggest fear a lot of people with back and leg problems have – and a lot of them are veterans – is falling. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I think when you don’t have to worry about that, and when you get your confidence back, you can heal faster. You can get something like a functional life back. As a veteran, I can see recovering vets using a LifeGlider to maintain their balance while they are relearning how to walk or while they are learning how to use a prosthesis. There are so many good ways that the LifeGlider can help people learn to cope with balance and pain issues.
Here’s what I’m telling everybody about the LifeGlider: it works. It keeps you from falling. It gives you more self-respect, more self-confidence. And that’s why I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.