Lum: Driven toward a goal |

Lum: Driven toward a goal

“Let’s go riding in the car car” — Woody Guthrie

Last week, Carrie, my physical therapist, and I took a quantum leap by walking out to my car and my getting into it.

It sounds simple enough. The distance from my house to the car in the alley is about as far as I’ve been able to walk in the house with a walker. All we had to do was put an oxygen tank in the walker’s basket, and oops, I’d better put some shoes on; where are those $100 Aspen sneakers?

Ready or not.

Out the back door and push the walker down the walkway that I should have had repaved a decade ago. Out the back gate, Carrie kicking back a swarm of dachshunds, and there it was, my sweet silver VW Beetle.

My back went out in the middle of May (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, stenosis, degeneration, surgery not an option), and the worst part of recovery was having to depend on others for absolutely everything.

If my friend Hilary hadn’t taken over the cooking and caring, I’d have had to be in a nursing home. My daughters pitched in — Hillery and Bruce remade my small shower room, and Skye talks me through my piles of paperwork. I am very lucky.

So I’m pushing the walker over ruts and weeds in the alley, and that’s not great.

Maybe next time I should leave the walker at the gate and do the rest on foot; it’s just a few steps.

A few steps, then another few steps, and my back starts whining at me. By the time I get to the car door, my back is cursing at me for going too far. I sit on the driver’s seat, Carrie gets out her oximeter, and she discovers that my lungs are pissed off, as well — my oxygen level is 81. Back to the house, mission accomplished.

On Sunday, my daughter Skye came over, and I told her I wanted to drive down my alley, turn around and drive back to my parking spot. How’s that for a goal? It wasn’t easy, either. The seat was too far back and too low and couldn’t be budged. Lord knows what’s stuck under there.

I could barely reach the pedals, and it was hard to change gears, especially the reverse.

Something was wrong with the car — it kept going even though my foot wasn’t on the gas. Not fast but not a good thing. It has done it before in cold weather. Hillery and Bruce are coming over from Leadville today as you read this to check it out.

Skye was filming the whole adventure, and when I saw the video, oh my God — I look as if I had swallowed the shrinking side of Alice’s cookie. If I had seen me coming, I’d have run for cover. I’ve given up hair dye, so I looked old as well as shrunken — next time the seat will be in the right place, and I’ll be able to reach the pedals.

Skye wanted me to wave and say “Yahoo” as I drove past her. I was happy to comply; I felt very yahoo to have driven the alley despite the impediments of the Beetle.

My next goal is to drive around the neighborhood to determine if I can get in and out of the car by myself (not easy), how long I can drive without excruciating pain and what I can do without my oxygen levels going into the toilet.

The goal after that will be an actual shop, using the grocery cart as a walker.

Su Lum is a longtime local who keeps on ticking. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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