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Memories are made of this ... if I can find it, somewhere

By Ernie Williamson / Special to The Bulletin

I’m not organized. Never was.

Once, back in my Army days, I returned to Vietnam from stateside R&R only to find the keys to dad’s car in my pocket.

Years later, not much has changed. My wife dutifully plugs in her iPhone and iPad every night. I do so when the screens go blank. And I’m not the type of person who puts his wallet and car keys in the same place every day. TV remotes? No telling where those can end up.

My disorganization, however, has gone from being a source of amusement to a real challenge. It must be someone’s idea of a cruel joke that, haphazard as I am, I now face a more complicated daily routine.

Some of my daily “to-do” routine is ordinary stuff we all face, like charging the phone. If I can find it. (By the way, is it progress if you have to spend hours searching for your phone only to find it under a couch cushion? We always used to know where it was - on the wall in the kitchen).

Many of my new organizational challenges result from getting older and body parts wearing out. Also, my battle with a spinal cord injury adds to my daily routine. There are new devices, new medicines, new exercises … new things to forget.

My wife jokingly (I think) suggests we put a checklist by the front door so I can make sure I have everything before going out the door. I would do that, but I would probably misplace the checklist.

If I had a daily checklist it would include:

GLASSES: Too vain, I survived for years with drugstore reading glasses. They were cheap and, to compensate for my disorganization, I would buy several pairs so I would always have a pair handy. At least that was the plan. Somehow, though, I would always end up with none at the office and several at home … or vice versa.

The state settled it. I needed prescription glasses to drive.

Surprisingly, I have had only one faux pas with the prescription glasses. Seconds after shutting my locker at the Pearland Natatorium I realized my glasses were locked inside. I couldn’t get the glasses out because I couldn’t see the numbers and markings on the combination lock. With some trepidation and lots of embarrassment, I gave the combination to a stranger, and he opened the locker.

HEARING AIDS: Tired of my wife complaining about the loud TV and not hearing my grandchildren, I purchased hearing aids. These hearing aids were made for someone like me: I hear a beep, beep, beep as the battery runs low. The only real problem is remembering to wear them. Without them, I just nod my head and smile.

WHEELCHAIR: Until recently, remembering my manual wheelchair wasn’t much of a problem. After all, I really can’t leave home without it.

However, because of shoulder problems, I added a power-assist device activated and controlled by a Bluetooth wristband. Tap the wheel twice with the wristband, and off I go.

The problem is that the device and wristband need charging. Even worse, I need to remember to turn the wristband off when not in use.

Recently I was sitting at a banquet table. I had forgotten to turn the wristband off. I accidentally hit the wheel with the wristband and the wheelchair lurched forward, pushing the table with it and pinning the poor women across from me against the wall.

Add to these things a daily exercise program, leg braces, an elastic binder to provide core support, and medicines – some once a day, some twice and others three times – and you have quite a challenge for someone as routine-averse as I am.

In addition, I sometimes feel like Col. Steve Austin. Remember him? He was the fictional character played by actor Lee Majors in the $6 Million Dollar Man. Austin was injured in an accident and doctors rebuilt him using bionics to create a cyborg – part man and part machine.

Even with today’s escalating health costs, I doubt my doctors have made me worth $ 6 million. But I may get there … in an undisciplined way.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com)