THE ZIMMER FRAME
“Hold the handles, that’s it Margaret, now check that the brakes are on. Excellent, now after 3 push up through your legs, 1, 2, 3” You wouldn’t think that an inanimate object could represent so much but I both love and hate this thing.This metal frame with wheels. I love that it means I can get about. I loathe what it represents. The staff tell me to use it for my own safety, that I need it now to make sure I don’t fall.They nag me to hold onto it when I get up from my chair, “that’s it Margaret”. Most of the nurses are very patient with me but sometimes I feel so silly and helpless. I use it because I don’t want to get them in trouble as I know the boss tells them off if they see me without it. If I have a fall I worry that the nurses will lose their job and they have families to look after. This hard piece of metal that on one hand helps me to move but on the other signifies my lack of freedom. I used to be a dancer, I loved teaching the little children how to dance. I can remember the feeling I used to get being on stage. It felt like I was flying. Freedom. My body will not let me do those things any more. It started with my hip, the arthritis took over and after the replacement I could never move around as much as I used to. I loved to walk but after the fall my doctor told me not to walk alone anymore. I cried every day. Once I stopped going out I couldn’t see the point any more. What use is living if you can’t experience all life has to offer? When I fell again, I made the decision to move somewhere I could be looked after so my family didn’t have to worry so much. I like it here, people are nice. The food is good but not the same as cooking for myself.Sometimes I feel like a child again, I try to do most things myself but sometimes I have to ask for help. But this walking frame is the one thing I cannot get used to. The handles hurt my hands as the plastic is so hard. I used to have such great posture when I danced but now I look like a little old lady, hunched over. I feel like I have to lean over to walk which hurts my back. The nice physio helps me adjust the height so I don’t stoop over and I have a sign on the seat that says “SLOW DOWN” but I feel that the wheels go to fast for my legs and it scares me that I might slip. My dancing teacher used to comment on my strong leg muscles but now my once pointed toes shuffle along the ground as the nurses say “pick up your feet Margaret”. I sometimes wonder if it would be better to be like Mary, she has dementia. It’s really sad to see such a beautiful lady completely unaware of her surroundings but I am very envious of her physical health. She walks around all day long and does not need a walking frame. Even though she doesn’t really know where she is she is still able to move well. I do try to be grateful for what I have, I have had a great life and have a beautiful family but most days I am sad. I feel like my mind is trapped inside a body that has broken down. This frame, for all of the ways it restricts me is the only way I have any freedom.