The view from the scooter

When you hobble into anywhere on crutches, someone almost always asks what happened. I canít begin to count the times Iíve had to tell the story of how I twisted my knee on May 8. In the first couple of weeks, I started with the short version, but invariably ended up having to explain it all in great detail. As time has passed, the human interest elements of my story have given way to more medical data about progress and prognosis. Generally, I end with something like, ďAnd the moral of the story is: donít mess up your knee.Ē

Being on crutches for two months, ordering a brace that is designed for someone twice my height and half my weight, and having to ask and wait for assistance with things as simple as moving a coffee mug from the kitchen counter to the dining room table has been wearing, but also instructive. The whole experience has taught me a lot about what it takes to deal with limiting conditions on an ongoing basis. But Iíve learned a few things about myself too.

When it comes to pride and humility, Iím way too close to the proud end of the spectrum. The hardest thing about my injury has been dealing with my compromised independence. For a while, I refused to ask for the help I needed to do simple things, and found it hard to accept help when thoughtful people offered it. Yet in order to prevent further damage and to keep moving forward in the healing process, I finally had to lump it. That meant asking more of everyone around me at home, at work, and anywhere else I dared to venture. It meant pacing myself according to physical limitations, and working to find ways in which I could do what I needed to do. It also involved trading a lot of the time I would normally spend with people for quality time elevated with my ice pack.

The whole thing came to a head when I knew that I would still have to be on crutches during a scheduled Irish step dancing trip to Nashville with three of our kids. That was compounded by the fact that the venue for the event was actually the largest hotel in the world. My doctor told me to contact the airline about using a wheelchair, and wear a vascular stocking for the flights. I decided that the better part of valor would be to ask the hotel for a handicapped access room, and rent a wheelchair or scooter to get around.

Life in a wheelchair is one of extremes. How things go is pretty much a function of how other people handle your limitations. Some people treat you with a lot of deference and kindness; others with complete disregard. For more than just a few, it is as if you donít even exist. The traveling itself wasnít bad on the whole -- except for the airline worker who put me into an elevator to transfer me to the next gate without my three kids. (Thank God for cell phones!) But getting around the hotel definitely had its challenges.

It would have helped to have had some kind of scooter driverís ed. Some of the tight turns on ramps were just too tight. There was one in which I hit a wall almost every time I had to use it. I figured I wasnít the first, when I remembered how many scuffs and breaks in the plastic there were in the rental scooter even before I took custody of it. Then, you need to find the handicapped access alternative routes. These are hardly ever readily visible, and even when they are marked, they can be hard to follow. I discovered that getting on and off elevators is much easier if the door opens on the opposite side when you get off. After a day of struggling to turn around in an elevator, I realized that it was best to just back out.

But perhaps the worst are the issues caused by the fact that wheelchairs and scooters place their occupants at about eye-level with a six year old. The result is that while you end up navigating through a sea of peopleís behinds, very few of them see you coming. I was surprised that the rudest and most self-absorbed demographic wasnít teens, but the elderly! They took up more doorways than anyone else by a long shot, and were least willing to move so that I could simply pass. At times I felt like saying something like, ďYou know, you could be in one of these things for the rest of your life starting tomorrow.Ē But, in all honesty, I had to look at how aware Iíve been--or not--before I found myself in this situation. Being physically limited is frustrating and aggravating. Even the people who try to help often donít know how to or how much to do.

After two months on crutches, Iím finally weight-bearing (albeit too much weight!) again. Through the experience, Iíve had a little taste of what itís like to be more dependent than Iím used to being--more than I ever would want to be. Iíve gained a new appreciation for how hard it can be to deal with people who, for whatever reason, do not acknowledge your presence. The view from the scooter isnít very pretty, but I hope to make it a little better when I encounter someone else in that seat.

Isnít it wonderful that God sees each and every one of us? That to Him, our weaknesses and limitations are endearing, not annoying or repulsive. In Christ Jesus, God took those limitations to Himself. In compassion, He chose to become like us in all things except sin. Jesus has seen human life from the driverís perspective, and asks us to come along for the ride. I think if God chose a vehicle in which to travel with us, it may well be a wheelchair or scooter.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...