I hate those evil mechanisms. I didn't care for them much before my stroke; now I hate them with a passion previously reserved for such things as heavy metal music and Dennis Miller.
It didn't take me long to get a client for my company Living At Home LLC. My first client is a state agency. Not the one I worked for, but another one that I worked with on a peripheral basis. Luckily, I've always been pretty good at networking, and that is a valuable skill when starting a business. The agency that is now my client has operated a program for years that uses state funds to assist individuals with disabilities with making accessibility modifications to their homes. Common projects are ramps, bathroom and kitchen renovations, and room additions. Overall program oversight is provided by a council of advocates and professionals, and I served on that council for many years. So, when I announced my retirement and asked agency staff if they would be interested in having me work with them on a contract basis, they were receptive.
My contract started July 1 and I am providing design assistance, help with funding application review, and project monitoring. The budget has been cut over the years, so I will be splitting my time between two separate programs. They are both very worthwhile, serving households that really need the help. I'm going to be busy, but I'm looking forward to it.
Which brings me to the escalator. Tuesday I had a meeting in Frankfort with agency staff to discuss my activities for the coming fiscal year. It was a very pleasant meeting, with everyone excited to have me on board to provide some of the technical assistance they have been lacking. One of the staff members walked out with me, which entailed going from the third floor to the first. He is a nice young man, healthy and able-bodied, so he led the way to the escalator. Now, it didn't take me long after my stroke to learn that escalators are problematic. I go up them okay, but going down is a different matter. My down technique is to balance on my good right leg and let my affected left foot hover over the steps as they come out at the top and make their descent. I then summon my courage and drop my foot on a step and hope that it lands in the middle and not on a leading or trailing edge so I have a relatively stable foundation I can use to bring my other foot down. To compound the problem on this day, the escalators in the state government building where we met are narrow and steep. The building is going on 30 years old, and I don't think they would meet code today.
I almost told the young man that I preferred to take the elevator, but he was talking enthusiastically about my activities in the coming year, so I let my vanity get the better of me and with my arms full of documents and a raincoat, I followed him down the escalator. Because I was trying to carry on a conversation with him instead of focusing on what I was doing, I didn't follow my down procedure, and instead unthinkingly stepped on to the escalator with my right foot, which left my affected left foot still on the landing. I couldn't lift it fast enough to catch up with the other one, so my legs kept spreading, my right foot going down, my left foot staying in place. The only thing that saved me from toppling head first into my companion was that the narrowness of the escalator enabled me to place both hands on the moving rails on each side. Even though my hands were full, I could still balance myself until I could drag my left foot off the landing and down the stairs until it reunited with my right one. When we got to the second floor, he said, "Maybe we should take the elevator to the first." I agreed.
So, disaster averted, and I'm looking forward to both being retired and seeing how large I can grow my business. Just goes to show that you are never too old for a new chapter of life, and new, exciting possibilities can be discovered even after a stroke.