I am very proud to call Red Deer my home. The friendly city that I love and where I grew up and raised my own family.
Life changed drastically for me in 2011 when a fall left me without the ability to walk and in need of a wheelchair.
Over the past three years, I have received a great deal of help and support from my family and friends as well as countless individuals, organizations and even strangers.
My family and I have really appreciated the amazing care and compassion that I have received from so many, but on July 18 I was shocked and disappointed by the treatment I received after an unforeseen mishap in the washroom of a local restaurant.
While enjoying lunch with my Dad, nature called, so I wheeled myself to the bathroom and entered the cubicle. It is always quite a stressful procedure going to the bathroom, having to hope no one is in the only available accessible stall, lift myself out of the chair and hope the hand rail offered is actually useful.
On this particular day, when I was finished, I proceeded to pull up my clothes and move back onto the chair when I suddenly lost my balance, grabbed for the toilet paper dispenser, which broke, and I tumbled onto the dirty floor beside the toilet.
While falling, my feet went under the petition and into the next stall, making contact with a lady who was using the facility with her child. I apologized to the lady, then attempted to reach up to my purse so that I could grab my phone and call my Dad to come and help me.
Even with a supreme effort I could not reach my purse, so I opened the door and asked the lady who was coming out of the next cubicle (and could clearly see my dilemma) if she could please just pass me my purse. Without any reply she exited the washroom!
Now feeling very alone and helpless, I became very agitated, frustrated and tearful, wondering if I could somehow get out of this mess on my own?
Then suddenly another lady came in and I desperately explained my situation to her, pleading several times for her to please pass me purse so that I could get my phone. After a very gruff “Just a second,” she attended to her business, gave me a quick look and a peculiar smile, and left the washroom.
While thinking ‘How this could happen to me and what did I do wrong?’ I felt a panic coming on.
After what seemed an eternity, I was so relieved to see another lady come into the washroom. She immediately recognized my problem, expressing instant comfort and concern, as well as an offer to help.
She must’ve seen my reaction because I first assumed it would be too hard for her help me because she was older and didn’t look as though she could lift me at all. I was also concerned that physically helping me could in turn hurt her somehow.
Then a very kind Dawn Jensen informed me that she had worked for many years as a nursing care provider and reassured me that together, we could get me back into the wheelchair!
While my special angel and I pulled and lifted, two other ladies had also entered the washroom and offered no help to Dawn or me.
I could tell immediately that Dawn knew how to do this because she had me up off the floor and into the chair in one swift, awesome movement.
Once I got back into the chair, the tears of relief started to come. I thanked her with all my heart and asked if I could hug her. She and I hugged, and it felt safe and comforting, and I felt a huge sigh of relief.
I finally said goodbye to Dawn and I left the washroom and saw my worried Dad, but could not tell him what had happened until later because I was so upset by the scary experience and about the initial snubs that I had received!
I have since visited Dawn at the Sunset Manor in Innisfail, where she works. I wanted to express my sincere gratitude and to give her a little gift for helping to bring that horrible 15-minute experience for me to a happy ending and for so compassionately restoring my dignity. She was so glad I had stopped by because she said I left so quickly and that she was concerned about me.
Dawn said she told her husband about me later on that night and how upset she still felt about the whole situation.
In thanking all those who have so graciously assisted me along the way after my accident, I would plead with others to take a few moments of your time to extend a little kindness, comfort and attention to those you might find in a crisis or in need of attention.
If you don’t want to become involved, please assure the person that you will get someone to assist them or to call emergency assistance.
Each day can be a whole lot easier for all of us if we strive to extend and share a little thought and compassion for each other!