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Back pain, dignity, independence, and technology

Suffering from a back injury made me think of the issue around dignity and independence in elderly care.

About 5 years ago in Texas, I went out with my friends for a skeet shooting. I underestimated the weight of the two boxes of the clay pigeons that I tried to carry, and I hurt my back. I am prone to get back pains since then, and it happened badly yesterday.

Just getting out of bed to move to the rest room would take more than 5 minutes as I have to support myself against wall, and examine the level of the pain on each side of my lower back for each step. It's a horrible thing.

Yvonne has been helping me a lot, and I am very grateful that I have a wonderful partner like her. Meanwhile, I could totally read her mind saying, "I cannot stay away because I want to be helpful, but I don't know what to do." as she saw me moving like a helpless worm on a dry concrete surface. So, I politely told her that it was best to leave me alone because I knew I could still do it except that it took 50 times longer time to move my body.

back pain

I am pretty sure I will recover from this hell in a few days. It got me in the mood for getting something out of this. I imagined the day I will be very old and physically challenged as much as I am going through now except that it'd be permanent.

I would try to be open for getting help, but I can easily see there will be moments that I would want to be left alone, after observing myself asking Yvonne to leave me. It's partly because I want people to spend time for themselves instead of helping me, and partly because I want to feel that I am still capable of taking care of myself. That is the issue of dignity and independence.

One hope lies in the advancement of elderly care technologies. There will be many forms of assisting machines and robots in the future. Using tools would not hurt my dignity as much as always having to rely on some other humans. I'd also feel better not troubling other people so much in conducting daily activities.

Original post: Dec. 29, 2014 | Last updated: Dec. 29, 2014

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