September 20, 2008

Accepting the Failings of Age and Disbilities

Today we went to the sight-in day for disabled deer hunters. The two year old program is run by a small army of volunteers who help people in wheelchairs get out in the woods during hunting season. They use specially made blinds and each disabled person is assigned two hunting guides who stick with them and are not allowed to hunt themselves. The group also puts on a weekend long deer camp where the disabled guys can all sit around doing guy things, something that is often missing in the lives of men who use wheelchairs.

Don went on the hunt both years and he was looking forward to going this year but today he didn't pass the gun safety test. Cognitive issues. After the three gun safety teachers made their ruling I had the job of telling Don. It was hard on the guys to fluke him. They all like Don a lot but it's not fair for him to tie up two guides and a blind in the woods if he's not going to hunt. They have a waiting list to get into the program because they can only take 30-32 hunters into the program.

On the way home, I asked Don how he thought he did on a scale of 1 to 10 and he said a five. Then I asked him if he would be surprised if I told him that he flunked the safety test. He answered, "Don't know." He took it pretty good when broke the news---sad, of course---but he's always been a stickler for gun safety so I was able to use that fact to explain it to him so he could accept it. I told him that he's hunted a lot of years with a good, clean record and it's better to leave the sport that way than to take a chance on marring that record with an accident. He got two bonus years after his stroke that we never would have dreamed possible and I told he has to celebrate that fact.

It hasn't been a happy evening and it won't be a month filled with anticipation like it's been the last two September/Octobers. But he does have a consolation prize. They asked me if I'd like to volunteer at the deer camp so Don can come along and hang out as the hunters and their guides come in and out and at after dark for the bonfire and dinner. He seemed to like that idea today but who knows if he'll feel the same way tomorrow or the next day when this all sinks in. I'm a little worried about depression catching up with him someday as little chucks of his freedom and personality get chipped away like this. Of course I say this every time there's another little loss like this but somehow he manages to keep getting up every morning happy and singing at the top of his lungs. How does he do that---find acceptance of the failings age and serious disabilities? ©



Anonymous said...

Hi JR,
I'm real sad to hear about Don's latest misfortune. Although I only know you guys through our virtual relationship, I would guess that it probably hasn't really sunk in with him. And as much as you two are inseparable I'm sure it is as much of a disappointment for you too. Maybe the volunteer participation in the event can be a consolation for you both. But most likely a lot of work on your part.:-( Again just guessing but I'm sure it will be discouraging for him at the time, but later he'll be glad. Don's sure seem resilient. I can only hope as I age and become less able bodied that I'm able to be as optimistic as Don appears. And of course, like him, I hope to have my real "keeper" of a partner too
BTW, I was glad to read of your participation in the poly blogs. I know how fun it is for me. Would love to know your opinion of the pit bull:-)
Later, Tom

Jellen said...

All I can say is, oh. It saddens me to hear of yet another loss. But glad to know he is still chipper about life in general.

One Mom said...

I've been lurking for a while now (sorry!)but thought it time for a comment. My husband is a 4+ year stroke survivor with aphasia, apraxia and some right side paralysis. His right leg is affected but he can walk.

I too am amazed at the joy and optimism with which he faces each day, despite the loss of work, golf, swimming, running, travel, entertaining, income, know the list all too well.

And yet in the past 4.5 years he has had only a handful of days of depression. And every day he tells me how happy he is, how blessed he feels. Yes, he is a remarkable man, like your husband. We know how we serve them day to day. Perhaps this is how they serve us.

parlance said...

When I saw the link from Cooper and Levi's post to this one I wasn't sure I wanted to follow it because you hinted it would be sad.
However, I'm glad I did, because people like you and Don enrich the lives of others by telling us your stories.
It reminds me of one of the best sermons I've heard. The priest works with people with mental illness and he arrived at the hostel one day to be greeted with enthusiasm by a resident. He felt great because of her joy at his arrival.
A few minutes later he walked past her again and she'd forgotten she'd already seen him and greeted him enthusiastically again. And again later. And again...
He said she has a wonderful role in the world to make people feel good. And yet some people would judge her as not being important.
I hope I'm explaining this okay. It was a great sermon on the importance of everyone.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

Thank you all for your comments.

Tom, I sent you an email with my political views.

Jellen, I know you understand since we both live the same life when it comes to dealing with stroke issues.

One Mom, I'm glad your husband faces his disabilities with the same gratefulness as mine. I honestly think Don looks at it as his job now to be cooperative since it's really all he can do to contribute to the relationship, besides love me.

Parlence, That's a wonderful sermon. Thanks for sharing it with me.