Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Settling in

I have been in my new office for three days, and I haven't been to Toys R Us yet! I have, however, broken some tile in the bathroom. Actually, I did that six hours into the first day.

It was pretty poorly applied tile if you ask me. I bumped into it, and it came off the wall, hit the floor and broke. A friend high-fived me for getting the first break out of the way.

There have been a few other glitches, too, but mostly it is good.

A few doors didn't open when I pushed the button, but that seems fixed. And they removed the doors without buttons that they were just propping open.

So door issues seem solved. I won't swear I won't break a door because only one side of a double door opens and that is narrow. But that is on purpose, so we'll just have to see, and be careful.

The big concern was lack of cell phone service in the building. They are fixing this, but until then gave me a walkie-talkie to call for help if needed.

The final problem has not been building-related. The van broke down Monday, so I have found a bus route to get me home, and used cabs and MetroAccess to get in.

I think I deserve a trip to Toys R Us for all that.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


As I packed up my office last week, it occurred to me that this is the second time an employer, after I had been there a few years, moved from a pedestrian- and subway-friendly location to a spot that was not.

After two and a half years, USA TODAY moved from Rosslyn to Tyson's. It was OK for me.

Now, after just under three years, I am moving from Ballston to Bailey's Crossroads.

That means I should not be worried about tomorrow, the first day at the new office. I am.

I toured a few weeks ago and had some accessibility issues. I detailed them to higher-ups, so hopefully they are fixed.

I know, though, that there will likely be at least one logistical hurdle. It is new construction -- how can there not be?

A woman I work with calls me optimistic about the building because  I say things like: it'll work. Expecting obstacles does not seem optimistic.

I think I am being pragmatic. It'll work because I will make it work. And it doesn't hurt that the new office is next door to a Toys R Us.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Accessible bathroom quiz

Quick quiz: The people who design and build accessible bathrooms:

  1. Have heard of wheelchairs but believe they are legends, much like the fountain of youth.
  2. Know wheelchairs exist but are certain that no one uses them anymore.
  3. Have seen able-bodied actors pretend to be disabled on TV, so they are sure that anyone who uses a wheelchair can, like Peter Brady on his wedding day, get up and walk if they really want to.
  4. Have read all the required code, so feel they are experts.
  5. Know that people use chairs, have tried a chair themselves but know that they are able to use body parts normal people in chairs cannot, so before setting anything in stone, bring in someone who is really in a chair to test the room.

I can tell you which one it isn’t.

Here in the accessible room at the hotel in Virginia Beach, I can't decide which it is.

There are plenty of bars here near the toilet, great.

Not so great: All the bars, and the wall, end before the front of the toilet, so you can sit down OK. I can stand up, too. I can’t however, pull my pants up or clean myself off.

It’s a roll-in shower, great.

Not so great: Getting a shower chair in or out is like parallel parking a limo. I went back and forth countless times. This is made all the harder by a big old lip on the shower.

My knees fit under the sink, great.

Not so great: You have to line up properly to avoid the pipes, but it is hard to line up properly in the dark, which is what you have to do to reach the light.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Multisex accessibility

I have not  been to school recently, so maybe something has changed. At the restaurant here in Virginia Beach, I saw this on the door:
Unisex in dining area
Accessible in bar area.”

When did accessible become the opposite of unisex. Are they calling people who use accessible bathrooms bisexual or maybe hermaphrodites?

Monday, July 21, 2014

I skipped high school

My 25th high school reunion is this year. The person on FaceBook who invited me said she hoped to see me there. I wanted to say why, not because I have no self-respect but because I am pretty sure I never spoke to the gal who invited me.

She wasn't mean; we just were never in the same classes that I can think of.

I am not sure what it would take me to go to a high school reunion. I am not blameless, but that was one of the worst times in my life.  I was invited to no parties. The only time I went to someone's house was to do a school project.

I can blame FA in retrospect, subconsciously coming to terms with its devastation. I probably should be glad to be alive.

From now on, I am going to tell people I never went to high school.

Friday, July 18, 2014


My older sister said she stopped commenting on my blog because her main comment is usually PEOPLE ARE SUCH JERKS or something.

But they are! Some of them anyway, and most of them use the subway when I do.

For instance:

  • If you are going to ignore the request on the subway to move out of the doorways, then at least glance out the door to make sure you aren't standing in someone's way.

I tried to get on a train yesterday, and this hulk stood in the doorway, with his back to the door. It would have been better if he was the Hulk because then I wouldn't have worried about running him down. A wheelchair would not hurt the Hulk. But this was just a big "puny human."

The door-closing warning started to sound and so I slid on, expecting to hit him or the other side of the door.

Fortunately for us both, I threaded that needle, baby. But that wasn't the end of the jerkiness.

  • If you are going to ignore the request to give priority to disabled people and the elderly on the elevator and get on first, you ought not to then get off first an not hold the elevator door open for the ONE person who actually needs it.

I was waiting for the elevator, and it came. I started getting on, and first one gal, then a second person, got on before me. 

You might think that would mean I'd get off before them then, but you'd be wrong. Four people get on the elevator with me. All of them got off before, and none even thought about holding the door open while I turned around and got off.

I stuck my hand in the door that was about a foot open. I know that is sort of stupid, but I was a bit pissed and maybe not thinking straight. 

The elevator opened I got off fine. All was good, no thanks to the jerks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My heart hurts

I am having chest pains.

OK, not that kind of chest pains. It is on the opposite side than my heart and it feels like a bruise or muscle thing.

I am sure it is a bruise on my ribs or a tweak of my fierce pecs, but here are the problems:

  •  I can't recall doing anything to it. That doesn't mean I didn't hurt myself. I use my arms so much. And I am constantly twisting and slipping and stretching.
  • I can't give my arm time off to get better either. I need them to do everything I do.
And that makes my heart hurt.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not my blood

Should I stay till you are done?

No, Mom, I'll be fine.

Of course, I wasn't fine. I was transferring back to my chair from the toilet and my foot got stuck. i made the transfer OK, then tried to pull my foot free. Instead, I pulled myself off my chair. 

I tried getting up, but my feet kept sliding. I decided that help would make it easier, so I called Mom to tell her I was a liar who did need help.

When she came up, I was lying on the floor, and when I saw her face, I laughed, I was fine, I told her. I had just lid down because my feet kept sliding.

She held my feet, and I got on the toilet fine. I then had to wait while Mom bandaged up her arm that got cut helping me.

I made Mom bleed! I am definitely going to hell.

I was fine after that, and Mom claims her arm is fine. I know I am doomed, though.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I see my future: No more AMC Theatres for captioning

I got out early on Thursday, so I forced myself to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past.

I say "forced" not because I didn't want to see it -- and it was awesome, though one sister might start crying if she sees it. But when the alternative is going home and taking a nap, I have to force myself to do anything. Plus, I had to ride three subway stops to get to the theater.

I was sure I'd wind up not going, so I didn't ask anyone to join me.

But I did it!

It was, as I said, great, and I find it quite interesting to see what the screen writers choose to use from the comic and what they ignore.

After seeing it, though, I decided I am not going to AMC Theatres again.  It's Regal Cinemas for me.

AMC does have captions. That is wonderful. But the caption device sits atop a gooseneck support that fits in the drink holder. You adjust it so you can see the captions and the movie.

I don't have a drink holder, so I have to use the one on the movie seat next to me. This means the gooseneck isn't really tall enough for me in the wheelchair. I wind up reading the captions, then looking at the screen and vice versa.

At Regal, you get the awesome caption glasses. You can be a wheelchair user who uses captions.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Another why

Every Saturday morning, I read Gene Weingarten's Sunday column in the Washington Post Magazine.

Yes, I read it early. Sue me.

Tomorrow's column claims insecurity is good for columnists. As an example, he points that after he won a Pulitzer, he worries because the award-winning story included the phrase "history of prior neglect."

Granted, that is a silly phrase, but you want insecurity, allow me.

Some friends brought their new baby over and were like, we really want her to know her Uncle Matt.

Awesome, I said. What I  was thinking was, Why?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Accommodating myself

My little sister and her family left on vacation today, so I am going to talk about her.

She gets visibly frustrated with me because I do not demand more reasonable accommodations, like today.

We had training on evac chairs we'll use in our new building.  I did not really want to be transferred to a stair chair and slid down steps, especially not at 8 in the morning.  But training is no good if people don't know what it is really like to transfer someone who can't help.

 I decided to get up an hour earlier than normal to eat breakfast at home so I'd have plenty of time to evacuate my innards before I trained to evacuate the building.

This annoyed my sister. She thought that I should have said, "I'll train, but at a later time." She thinks I don't request accommodations because I am trying to prove my toughness.

I wish it were that.

Really, it just doesn't occur to me. With today's training, I saw a clear solution and that was getting up early. I didn't really want to, but there is no real reason not to. Other than being tired, there were no bad effects.

If I can accommodate myself, why ask others to do it?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I knew this would happen

Claren has not had a does of oral steroids in years. Her itching has always responded to less-drastic measures.

But I got a course of steroids today because nothing is really working. She opens up new cuts on herself daily.

When I got home from the vet, it occurred to me: She really is dying. I'd never agree to -- and the vet would not suggest -- something that might make her feel better but might hurt her eventually.

But now, let's just make her comfortable for however long is left... which is why my shower chair is sticking out into my room. Because she is also wearing a big old cone, I needed to give her extra room to get to the shower -- her new sleeping place.

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