Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are we having fun yet?

My power chair, the Beast, took out a refrigerator shelf yesterday.

This comes as no surprise to me, because I've spent the last month or so trying to keep the Beast under control in areas that are too small to use a power chair in since my ultralightweight manual chair broke. I knew I was in for some adventures as I watched the garbage men haul it away. It was the only chair I could get into certain areas, such as my bathroom and parts of my kitchen. Vital areas for a person living alone with a disability - at least if you plan on eating, bathing, etc. And I didn't have the money to spring for another one. These chairs are expensive items and, as I found out, difficult to find used- at least under a certain price.

I have, and am very grateful for, assistance I receive from my aide when she is here. But the reality is that after she goes home, only my cat Buddy remains. There's not a whole lot he can do to help me out in this situation.

Buddy's idea of helping has been to race back and forth in front of and behind me as I try to get the power chair to fit into places. When the power chair took out the refrigerator shelf (which, luckily, isn't broken), Buddy raced in front of me to catch the flying yogurt. When the yogurt landed on the floor on its side, he played with it, rolling it around a bit. This was definitely not a help, although amusing.

The past few days I decided to take Buddy's Zen-like approach. I am trying to enjoy the adventures with the Beast. When I hear the inevitable crunch signaling that I've run into something or other, I high five Buddy as he begins to play with the debris. The mailman was quite surprised when I zoomed up to the door trailing a few items of clothing and towels on the back of the Beast that it snagged from a hallway encounter of the close kind.

"You've got something back there," he said.

I looked back and, sure enough, Buddy was playing with the string hanging from one of the jackets. I smiled and decided to have fun with it.

"That's how I dry off my laundry," I said.

"Your cat seems to enjoy it," he replied.

And so he does.

Luckily there's an ultra lightweight wheelchair in my immediate future, thanks to Meredith. This has been just a swell experience, but I do miss being able to eat except out of a pizza box. I'm tired and stressed, not to mention I could use a shower.

It will probably take a few days before Buddy stops following me around. The adventures of the Beast have been so much fun for him that I'm guessing he'll sigh heavily in disappointment before returning to his usual naps once the new chair gets here. It just won't be the rolling amusement park the Beast is.


FridaWrites said...

I'm imagining trying to explain to insurance companies why a lot of us need two chairs rather than one when often they generally won't pay for one!

Wheelie Catholic said...

Exactly. And often they get away without paying for either one, dancing the dance of Insurance Confusion-Elusion!

FridaWrites said...

I'd like to know how they sleep at night sometimes. At least Buddy and you keep a sense of humor about it. I could use a comfortable manual sometimes too for some places (if not pushed by me, either to extend sittig or to help in small spaces) or better seating in general (if self-powered).

Wheelie Catholic said...

I still think we need a national clearinghouse to share old gently used (not broken) equipment. If not free, then low cost.

Buddy is an excellent influence on me :)

Matthew said...

Glad to hear you're getting a new manual wheelchair. I've been following Kimberley's videos and blogs for a while and she fought tooth and nail to keep out of a power-chair so she could maintain her strength and independence. She's now having to get her new guide dog trained privately as the schools won't train a dog to work with someone in a manual wheelchair, which sounds ridiculous to me as [a] she's proven it can be done and [b] there are probably an awful lot of paraplegics who don't come close to needing a power-chair who are affected by their policy.

Anyway I hope you get your kitchen fixed up soon. What make is it? Not an embarrassing one, I hope.

Matt Smith

FridaWrites said...

That gives me chills--yes, we should. Someone offered me a powerchair after his mother--it was probably a $15,000 to $20,000 chair and had been used only a few times before she passed away unexpectedly. Unfortunately it did not meet my needs but I hope it found a home with someone else who did need it and whom it fit.

Wheelie Catholic said...

I'm getting a TiLite AeroR. It's their aluminum model - very lightweight. What kind of chair do you use, Matt?

Frida- It's better to turn things down than let it sit unused. That's the part of this that we need to dialogue about as a community- is when people have equipment sitting around unused, other than a backup chair (which I think is good but can't afford), how can we practice good stewardship?

Matthew said...

LOL, did I ever say I used one? I don't. Then again, you might be interested in the time I thought I saw myself in one.

My interest in the subject is more from an educational/advocacy perspective, having experienced the bad side of the British special ed system (I had a lot of problems at school, probably due to Asperger's and/or the effects of untreated thyroid deficiency). I also have a friend, Ginny, who's blind (and had an even worse special ed experience).

Matt Smith