When My Safety Net Was No Longer There

Before this story started, if my housemates told me that they were going away for a few days, I would have relished the thought of a quiet house and a crumb free kitchen. The thought of being home by myself with my beautiful Golden Retriever would not have phased me and certainly would not be a cause for any anxiety. But after my normal changed, I was only able to return home because I had housemates who were willing to support me and who accepted that I would be reliant on them to help run the household, such as filling up my dog’s water bowl and taking care of the dishwasher. My physical restrictions had not been lifted. I’m still not supposed to bend down and lift more than 2kgs. Then there are the limitations I have anyway; I still can’t drive my car and walking my dog on lead is near impossible. His walking pace is slightly faster than mine! During the last week leading up to my November 27th deadline, the day I would leave for the UK, my housemates went away for 5-6 days. Being home alone in my current normal was going to be a challenge, but one I knew I needed. My housemates did all they could to set me up well; they left an empty dish washer and helped me with my shopping before they left. And then I was on my own.

The uncertainty about how well I would manage was a good thing; I was motivated to reach yet another level of organisation. I booked taxis a day in advance to take me from home to the bus stop and to take me home again. Without a taxi, I would have been homebound. But that was something I knew from the beginning. I also had to book a taxi to take me to the bus stop from work. Again, walking to the bus stop was out of walking range for me. Not having access to other travel arrangements really did show me how dependent I am on taxis to get to and from public transport. I couldn’t be mobile on just public transport. I learnt during those 5-6 days that if I was going to live independently again, then relearning how to drive and having my car fitted with another means to accelerate and break would need to be actioned sooner rather than later. But, other than travelling to and from work each day, I surprised myself that I managed. There were a few restriction lines that I crossed, admittedly. I needed to pack and unpack the dishwasher, which requires bending down. But the world didn’t come crashing down either.

My housemates are a safety net and I am very grateful for them. But having that safety net gone for a few days at least was good for me. It was a test of my independence. The space helped me to clarify what I would need to put in place for living independently in the future. Where I live may not need to change if I could drive. So another goal has been added to my priority list. Learn to drive again.