I finally had to tell Garry that I have one more stenotic, broken vertebra. L 4-5-6 were fused when I was 19. Despite a lot of abuse and arthritis, those three are still (more or less) fused. They don’t feel particularly happy, but they should hang together for the duration. Unless I do something really stupid, like fall off a horse or down the stairs, or have a serious auto accident.

Sometime during the past couple of years, the S-1 vertebra — the one at the very bottom of the spine which supports the whole shebang — broke. I don’t know when it broke. It may have just decayed or been damaged by arthritis. I didn’t have an accident or fall, so I’m just assuming it more or less fell apart all by itself. knew something was wrong because I was finding it so difficult to walk.

There’s nothing to be done about it. I guess we could, as my friend Cherrie says, call this “My new normal.”

Anyway, what would I do with a wheelchair? Even a small one is too big for this house and we live on a road that doesn’t have a sidewalk. In town, the sidewalks are a disaster; so full of potholes, you don’t need a disability to fall on your head.

Boston’s no better. The Commonwealth has been busy “saving money” by failing to provide basic services … but hey, we have a full treasury again. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend some of that money and create safe sidewalks, ramps for wheelchairs, and repair our crashing trains. They’ve been derailing, rolling over, and generally banging into each other. There are lots of software fixes for these problems, but the tracks are so old and decrepit, you can’t install the new software.

So, realizing they had a transportation issue (and have had this same issue for all the years I’ve lived here), you know what they did to fix it? They raised public transportation prices.

A lot of people are very grumpy about it. No idea why.

Most public places don’t have ramps. For wheelchair users, there are few down ramps at intersections. In our little town, we have one traffic light and a few random stop signs to which no one pays any attention and sidewalks that resemble tank traps.

When I first moved to Massachusetts, I had to ask a friend if the driving laws were different. No-one stopped at signs or lights. I figured they must know something I didn’t know. It turned out, they just don’t LIKE traffic laws.

Someone once said the only way to get a moving violation in Boston was to run over the Governor. It really encourages one to keep walking as long as possible … though there are days …

Categories: Arthritis, Marilyn Armstrong, Medical humor, Medicare, Photography

Tags: , , , , ,

19 replies

  1. wow I thought our roads and pavements and trains were bad, that is truly awful. Sorry to hear about you back, sounds bad.


  2. Potholes, broken sidewalks, spotty and expensive public transportation, clueless and aggressive drivers. Sounds just like Buffalo (and its suburbs). But apparently there’ll be plenty of money to build a new football stadium (and maybe abandon the existing one) or to turn the Skyway bridge into some kind of public park. How everyone’s supposed to safely get to them has not yet been answered. (PS – My first thought was to write “get a horse” but you might not have found that particularly amusing considering your current physical problems.)


  3. This is fascinating, Marilyn. I thought the maintenance in the USA was much better than this. It is a bit of a shock.


    • This sort of problem usually is a state by state matter. It OUGHT to be Federal, but it never has been. So in this Commonwealth, we never spend money on transportation and we fire our transportation manager every single year for the same problems we had the previous year. They don’t want to spend the money to fix the rails … and for each year they dont’ fix them, they get worse, so they put it off another year. Eventually, we won’t have rails at all. Everything will move by truck and then the ROADS will fall apart.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Do you take a Calcium supplement? Bones do their thing of breaking down and rebuilding everyday. A little extra Calcium/Magnesium could be of some help.


  5. The rail services in Massachusetts sound a lot like here in Tasmania. We don’t have passenger services at all. The state sold the railways to the federal government decades ago and they promptly closed the lot. However, a few years ago there was a spate of derailments due to poor or should I say no maintenance. The state had to buy the freight services back to get them into some kind of order.
    I can’t speak from experience about disabled facilities like ramps but it does seem that regulations require all new buildings to have disabled access and many organisations have to retrofit when they renovate. A friend who volunteers at the Living Boat Trust in Franklin told me that they are required to have a disabled toilet and ramps even though they have, up to now, never had a disabled member.
    I think those motorised wheelchairs and gophers are a great idea but they are not useful in tight spaces or uneven surfaces unless you can get a 4WD model.


    • In theory, all public buildings require ramps, but it’s an old city and some places, you really CAN’T put them in — there’s just no space for them. New buildings have them, but there aren’t so many new buildings in a lot of Boston. And our inspectors are all in jail for not inspecting anything except, apparently, lunch. As for the wheelchairs, most of them would really be useless for me. Not only are they too wide for this house, but there’s no way to get them up and down the stairs AND they only work on smooth, flat surfaces … like in a mall. And we live like four miles out of town with no sidewalks, so I just don’t see the point of bothering. As long as I can keep walking, i will walk. After that, I’ll worry again.

      Liked by 1 person

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