Thursday, January 29, 2009

You can't really turn a wheelchair into the slide

As soon as my chair started sliding toward the drainage ditch, I knew I was doing something that wasn't too smart.

But the sun was shining brightly and it wasn't too cold and the light was reflected off the melting snow. It really was brilliant at lunch when I decided to walk around the pond.

The track had even been cleaned ... mostly.

I was riding on the track over the ditch that feeds the pond when I realized I was not quite heading straight but instead was drifting toward the edge of the track.

Before I go further, I want to say I probably would not have died. The track has a lip I don't think I would have glided over, and there is a little grass I would have had to slide over, too. All in all, I put death at somewhere less than 50%. I was more worried about getting stuck and having to call for help.

With some effort I managed to get to the end of the ice slick and that was fine, but my foot had somehow gotten trapped between the chair and my foot plate. If I had been able to stand up, my foot would have easily slid out, but standing is not an option. So I tugged and pushed and pulled. I decided to take my shoe off to help, and it would have helped. But I also couldn't get my shoe off without standing. Finally, I just pulled and it popped free.

I did not want to go over that ice again, so I decided to to go forward. I shortly came to four feet of snow-covered track. I tried three times to barrel through it with no luck. I kept getting stuck like 10 inches from the end.

I decided then to put my chair in the slowest speed and carefully go over the original ice. That worked not at all. I immediately started to glide toward the edge.

Back to the snow I headed, determined to bulldoze through it. On about the fifth try I succeeded. And off I headed on my beautiful lunchtime walk.

Until I got to the corner of the pond that is farthest from our building. It was like 20 feet of icy track. I was in no danger here, just would have slid into the grass.

And I did slide. Big time and almost immediately. I quickly got stuck and wished I had some sand in my wheelchair bag to toss on the track around my wheels. Finally, I was able to push myself backward using my feet and so I navigated the rest of the icy track backward. Not my best direction as anyone who has seen me exit the van can tell.

But I survived. That's the important thing. And this goes in the "another reason I hate winter" file.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I was going to acknowledge John Greenleaf Whittier for being the first to write Snowbound. He is after all one of the names from the Authors card game. And the poem rhymes even -- he is not playing tennis with the net down. At least until he tried to rhyme prophecy and sky. LAME.

Of course, I can't be expected to struggle through such blighted writing, so I am writing my own.

It was icy all morning and it never warmed up enough for me to get to work. And when I was done and going to take Claren out, it was raining.

I think the worst part of such a day is that I start disliking people who can come and go. Even if it is just outside. You present much less of a target standing than you do sitting in a wheelchair, which should not really get rained on anyway.

And I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that those without Friedreich's ataxia can change out of wet clothes easier than I.

And I hate, by the way, that work is my only recourse for getting out.

Bring on summer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I am not all that

I have not used my manual chair regularly since last spring, so I was horrified when I used it to go over to my sister's Saturday for a little Wii. I could not use the seat belt; I had gained too much weight.

I am way under the normal average weight for my size, but I like being light and smallish. I think it's why I hurt less when I fall; I know it is easier to pick me up.

I couldn't imagine what it would take to add inches to my waist in less than six months? What the heck was I eating? It's bad enough that one of my size 32 pants no longer fits. This is bad because I wear 32-32, but now I am getting wider than I am tall and need like 33-32s.

I looked to see if I could lengthen the belt, and imagine my delight when I saw the belt was stuck behind a bar.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The wall and I are just friends

I have never read a romance novel, but I think I may have been in one this morning. My chest was heaving, my thighs were quivering, my body was aching, if I had a bosom it surely would have been pounding. but there was no sex or romance at all ... unless you count me having carnal relations with the shower wall.

The shower I use is bounded on the side where I get in by a real narrow wall. The space goes shower, wall just wide enough for hang a towel, then an open space with shelves and a space on the floor for my laundry hamper.

Somehow when I was transferring into the shower ended up crouching on the floor. Before I could stand up, I realized my right ankle really hurt so I got it out from under me and it was fine. But I was about to embark on a sexual journey. Thankfully I still had on my sleeping pants or the following would have chaffed mightily.

When I freed my right ankle, it went on the non-shower side of the wall. My left leg was in the shower. Using the various grab bars I tried to stand up and either get in the shower or back in my chair. My legs had other ideas.

Both my feet slid forward so I was smack against the wall with one leg on either side. I don't want to get to graphic, but as I tried to pull myself up, failed and slid down and tried again. I thought, "Wow, isn't this what a male dog does?"

I finally got into the shower, I can't remember how. And the worst thing: The wall is so ugly, just plain white with chunks knocked out of it by my chair. I mean at least if it was a really nice marble wall, I could say it was just experimenting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The air up there

I stood up today.

Relax. It was no miraculous Amahl moment. I was holding on to multiple bars in the shower and just stood there and looked around before I transferred back to my chair.

I stand a fair bit when you take into account transfers, but I rarely look around. I need to concentrate on the transfer.

The shower stall is short; standing up I almost am taller than it.

It is a nice view from up there, not that I am tall.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No tears here

I listened to Barak Obama's speech today and wanted to cry and wanted to be like him and change the world, not just my freaking little part of the world.

Tonight I wondered if President Obama had ever had to deal with trying to stand up to go to the bathroom, losing his balance and falling forward so his chin slammed into the upraised toilet seat.

That would just suck, Mr. President. Hypothetically speaking, it might make one want to cry, just like the speech.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I want to use the icky door handle

We must have been quite a sight today: A guy in a wheelchair bundled up against the cold walking a dog and carrying on his lap a bright red, big dog pillow heading down a very moderate hill (No, it wasn't steep).

I took home Claren's bedding out of kindness for the others at my workplace. The pillow was a Christmas gift so it wasn't dirty, but the rugs had been there a while (think years).

But now everything is shiny clean, so any germaphobes in my office can be happy.

It occurred to me that I am a good one for germaphobes to have around. Not that I am squeaky clean. Far from it. If it is not a visible mess and it would take more than a little effort I am leaving it for someone else.

But I use a wheelchair. I give germaphobes freedom from that most vile instrument: the bathroom door handle.

It is kind of surprising to see people who can walk hit the automatic door opener. Most, I suspect, are the people who open doors with a paper towel so they avoid contact with the handle. Some just find it easier.

I don't mind. I guess I am just jealous.

The door opener on one of my bathrooms (well, the bathrooms I have access to) is broken. But it is only broken on the inside of the bathroom. I go in fine, but then have to wither wait for someone to come in. Usually, I just pry the door open and hold it off my chair so I don't scrape the door, then turn sharply because the bathroom is in an alcove, then shoot out before the door smacks my chair.

The minute I can walk again, and I am not holding my breath, I will never use automatic door openers. Unless, say, I were carrying a big, red dog pillow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Malaise to Matt: Suck it!

I still am suffering from my malaise, which shows no sign of dissipating. The rotten news keeps coming. My sister-in-law is still not better. I have to choose a week this quarter to be furloughed. Claren is still itchy. It is really cold.

Surprisingly, that last one bothers me less than normal after my Christmas present from my sister and her family: apres ski boots. They are super-bulky but really keep my feet warm. Or it could be the sauna-like temperatures at Mom and Dad's since they got a new furnace. It is awesome.

This malaise seems to have plopped its big old butt right next to me, downwind of Claren who would totally bite it if she noticed it. Or maybe it is riding in my wheelchair bag. It is here and going nowhere, and it is hard to write, read, anything. As soon as one thing good happens, 10 bad ones do or at least seem to.

My niece and nephew are part of the good things that happen but my niece keeps getting the vapors. At least I hope it is the vapors because she was sitting on my lap earlier today.

A friend of mine and I have a running joke with almost any story we see. They can almost always be summed up in this form: So-and-so to so-and-so: Suck it! As an example, as stocks have been tumbling, we came up with: Stocks to investors: Suck it! Another example: Consumers to automakers: Suck it! You get the idea. And I think if I am going to do anything besides reading comics for the next several months, I am afraid I need to break out a straw and start sucking.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It doesn't have to be Kobe beef

I have spent a lot of time these past few days, time when I could be writing, looking for all-natural beef dog food. This was a suggestion from the holistic vet Claren and I saw recently because of Claren's itching.

I was ready to switch to a more natural food than I am feeding now before I went, and a friend had recommended one that would not break my little bank.

But that food was chicken. I am not really clear on the reasoning, but the vet said beef would be better because in Chinese medicine it was more "neutral."

I might have been prone to mock something that sounds kooky like that before I went to the vet, but having been I am pretty much wiling to give the vet the benefit of the doubt. Everyone at the office was quite kind, especially the vet. Now if only they would respond to the "Contact Us" form on their website.

I bought one beef food at the pet store. The main ingredients: beef, venison, bison and lamb. Needless to say, that one would break the bank.

I found three foods that would not be better than what I eat, but I wanted to see if the vet approved of any. She suggested two foods. One needed nightly rehydrating, which I had to rule out as being too complex even though part of their quality testing includes having people eat it. If I fed Claren suggestion No. 2, I'd need to buy a silver platter and a tuxedo to serve it: It was that expensive.

I wish the vet would get back to me. It would give me more time to stop surfing the web and find other excuses not to write.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wheeling on empty, part 1

I have tried several times to write something, but I have failed.

It is not writer's block, I have plenty of topics: the joys of having a high maintanence service dog, the annoyance of having to call before going anywhere to make sure that anywhere is wheelchair-accessible, or how I have never played I never.

It is just that my energy is totally drained by these days. It is all I can do to sit in front of the TV watching bad movies. Tonight it is Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. I can't remember what I watched last night. How pathetic is that? It does work out well that the Cox guy came out and ran a cable to my TV so I have tons of channels. Well more than the four networks, which is what I had until Wednesday. Oh, it was Men in Black last night, Mom helped me remember.

Mom says there is bad karma floating around our family, with worries about my sister-in-law and brother, a nephew, seasonal illnesses and other stuff.

I am not sure karma is the right word, but there is something.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not funny, but worth a laugh

If I am ever alone and start to choke on a pretzel, I now know a way to Heimlich myself without standing up.

I just bang my chest down on to my upper legs and knees: It worked last night.

I wasn't exactly choking ... well not to death anyway ... probably. I was just trying to swallow the nightly cracker I eat with my antidepressants and throw away a napkin.

Apparently, I am Ill-suited for multitasking that does not involve a computer, because I started coughing, doubled over on my knees, coughed and spit out a bit of rice cracker.

Then, because I was bent over and still holding the napkin, I decided to pick up the thing that was once know as a cracker. But I started to feel like I might throw up or fall out of my chair so I just dropped the napkin on the cracker thing, snickered at Mom who was witnessing the whole incident and sat up.

Mom then threw it away.

It wasn't that funny. Neither are the many falls that leave me lying flat on the floor or the times I have run my wheelchair off ramps.

Still, I laugh. Partly, I guess, it is relief or a a nervous response -- "Holy crap, dude, you almost died."

What is a better option?

Silent reflection so I could relive almost dying? Maybe a "holy shit" seriousness? But that would be so tiring as I go through these events on a regular basis. So would taking these things seriously; that would be a little depressing, too. I guess I could cry but then I would run out of tears and no doubt die of a lacrimose deficiency.

Plus, sometimes it is pretty damn funny that a 37-year-old is lying on the floor and can't get right up. Maybe not funny ha-ha, but it is an awfully gawky picture.

I think I will stick with laughing, but I know that it is not that funny.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

They don't want to be my huckleberry

I actually yelled at someone today ... out loud ... in public..

It was less than satisfying because I immediately thought of 10 things I should have said.

I was on the bike trail and just ahead was a guy with a dog. He was standing off to the side to let me by so I was going around him. In the distance, I saw bikers coming toward me. They were about 15 yards away. Bikers are clearly told to yield to others, but as Mom says, "They are a law unto themselves."

As the lead biker approached, without any visible slowing, he said "watch it."

I yelled then. "Hey jerk, it's my trail," but it's not: It's the bike trail. After all the various retorts I thought of, I wish I had said "You yield to me."

I mean really. Who the hell doesn't yield to a wheelchair?

I am proud of the "jerk." I am glad I didn't say worse because then the old man with the dog might have been startled. As it was he did nothing.

I have been trying to calculate who would be hurt worse by a collision: me or a biker. Claren is the big wild card. If she got hurt while I was playing chicken with a biker I would never forgive myself.

I feel like Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. Like Wild Bill, Johnny Ringo, Ike and the other Cowboys, the damn bikers are goading me. They best watch it: If they call down the thunder, I'll be coming after them and Hell will be coming with me.

Blog Archive