A stubborn young women, Stacy Zoern, 33, lives alone in Austin, Texas. A lawyer, she’s sick of never having her independence, as she has been in a wheelchair since birth and totalled her $80,000 customized van.
She Googles the words “electric neighborhood vehicle” and finds a company in Budapest, Hungary, called Kenguru.
Her emails go unanswered. She calls — and finds a man there who was educated in the States and who speaks perfect English. She persuades him he must help her make these cars. He moves to Texas with his family. One of her neighbors is a former Wall Street guy — who lends this new company half a million dollars.
She has no business experience, just the absolute determination there is a need for this product, one she has wanted for years; she estimates a potential market of 3.3 million.
The vehicles are now being made in Florida and will be for sale within months.
Journalists are supposed to be cool, detached, objective. The hell with that! I absolutely admire Stacy and Istvan’s unlikely collaboration and hope they have tremendous success with their venture.
I’ve been fighting arthritis in my left hip, but some dead bone in there is more the issue. Now we’re hoping it won’t suddenly chip off, which will force me into the OR right away for the inevitable hip replacement.
What did I learn?
People are wayyyyy too nosy. I am now so glad that total strangers can’t grill me about what happened and when did I have surgery and why not and tell me all about theirs. Boundaries, people?
People are often incredibly kind. Many times, strangers in grocery stores (as I crutched with one hand, stuck the other crutch in the cart and pushed it, ugh) offered to help me or even do my shopping for me. Many opened doors and held them, men and women. Some even rushed to do it.
Most people have never heard of short crutches. They rock! Light, easy, portable. They don’t hurt your arms or shoulders or hands or armpits. They don’t hurt at all. Yes, you do develop insanely strong triceps and very thick calluses on the heels of your hands.
They see short crutches and assume they are permanent. I received many pitying looks from people who mistakenly may have assumed I must have had polio or suffer from MS.
Life goes on, crutches or no. While on them, I flew out to Las Vegas and spoke to a major conference. I scooched fast, sideways, in movie theaters, up stairs, down super-steep parking garage entrance ramps, up wet, grassy hills. I even used them to get in and out of the swimming pool. It is damn challenging to move across wet, slippery tile!
Life also moves a lot more slowly. This is not a bad thing, but it becomes necessary. Everything takes longer than normal.
Rainy or snowy days are a drag. With both hands used for crutches, you’ve got no hand left for holding an umbrella. They are also frightening as you pray not to slip or slide into concrete or in the road.
You will develop triceps of steel. Seriously!
It’s only crutches. On my most fed-up days, I was still glad it was nothing more serious. Many people are facing much worse.
My surgeon didn’t believe I’d do it. So he told me. Of course I did!
I can’t say I will miss them, but I am deeply grateful I was able to enjoy three pain-free months of such well-assisted mobility.
My glam new crutches arrived last week and are now part of my every movement for the next three months, which will include a train trip to Boston and a flight to Las Vegas.
Of course, because I adore all things French, they turn out to be made in France, of aluminum.
I’m trying to give my arthritic left hip a break while I take Fosamax, so cannot put my full weight on the joint. It’s the first time since January I have been pain-free and am sleeping soundly without painkillers or the old pillow between the knees. So sexy!
The crutches are short, only to the forearm and I paid $100 extra for soft padded leather inserts to protect my arms, spongy, ergonomically shaped handles and wide, reassuringly thick pads on the bottom of the poles.
The challenge is…life! I managed to sweep and mop and vacuum yesterday (stork-like on one leg) and this morning got a lot of ironing done while sitting on the bed.
It’s getting stuff like books, magazines, the phone, the remote, whatever from one room to another hands-free so now I use a big soft bag as a backpack.
I have a meeting today in Manhattan, in 95 degree heat and humidity, so am dreading that. I’ll drive in, in AC, and pray for a parking spot or garage very close to my meeting. But I may arrive drenched in sweat anyway.
I was having a bit of a pity party yesterday when I spoke to a photographer who needs to come and take my picture for a story I’m working in. He was on crutches, living alone, for two years.
Have you managed with them? Any tricks you can share?