When I was young, I played any sport I could get my hands on; hockey, rugby, soccer, basketball, tennis; . . . you name it, I loved them all. But my knees took a beating and were constantly complaining louder each day. So when I hit the big 6-0, I found myself waking up at night in bed with my knees screaming in pain, and the last thing I felt like doing was walking down the stairs to the kitchen; or even worse, knowing I needed to walk back up again. Because damn it, I’m not old yet!
So when I saw those cheesy TV ads for stairlifts, I scoffed at the old men and women who needed them. So I continued to choose to wince in pain every day as I climbed my stairs, which seemed to get longer and steeper overnight. I found myself planning my day to limit my trips up and down those dreadful stairs. They started to seem like I was climbing Mt. Everest. Unfortunately my gracious wife was getting used to me hollering from the bottom of the stairs to bring down my reading glasses, my laptop, or whatever I either forgot or needed at the moment. Looking back on it now I realize how selfish I was and unconcerned about her knees as well. But my pride was in tact.
One day not long after reaching 65, I was visiting a neighbor, and was surprised to see he had a stair lift in his home. I immediately cracked a joke about it; that he was watching late night TV and bought the stair lift in a moment of weakness or if it came with his supsciption of viagra because he couldn’t “get up”. But I’ll never forget the look he gave me. He looked me straight in the eye and said “Bob, I’ve seen you hobble up your stairs on more than one occasion. And one of these days you’re knees are going to fail and you’re going to fall down them. Its not a question of “IF”…but rather a question of “WHEN”. Remember Sam Adkins? You’re letting your pride blind you from reality. You’re probably telling yourself you don’t need some damn stairlift to walk up stairs because you’re not so old you can’t do it yourself. But the truth is you’re no different than me or thousands of others. You’ve got bum knees and all your pride and denial are going to get you is a fast track to the emergency room when they give out completely while trying to climb those stairs. But I can tell you from experience, this stairlift was the best three grand I ever spent and it was a hell of a lot cheaper than a hospital visit.”
I felt like someone had just hit me in the face with a two-by-four. I just stood there looking at him. I couldn’t say a word because I knew he was right. I was making excuses for myself. I was believing if I just kept ignoring the truth it would just finally go away. The sad truth was that I’d been thinking about Sam but kept telling myself that wasn’t going to be me; falling down stairs and ending up critically injured and paralyzed.
But that was a turning point for me. For five years, I had put it off and kept ignoring the truth. I guess I just needed a kick-in-the-ass validation from someone I trusted that having a stair lift didn’t make me old or a cripple. But not getting one when I clearly needed it; well, that just proved I was an idiot. The next day I contacted Richmond Stairlifts and purchased one they recommended. They gave me a great price with a lifetime warranty on everything.
So now, I occassionly catch my wife watching me riding up and down the stairs as she gives me that, “I told you so” look on her face. I’m sure she appreciates that I no longer have to yell at the bottom of the stairs for her to fetch me something either. I also noticed she has started riding it as well. And we don’t miss any opportunity to show off our new stairlift to my “old” friends. After all, we played hard together years ago and there are a few more weak knees that need to leave that river in Egypt.