Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hey- Where's That Chair With Wheels?

The wheelchair has been taken back to the wheelchair corral today. :C....

I've been using the cane most of the time the last couple weeks. And when I haven't been using the cane I've been walking on my own. My balance is just a bit off if I try anything fancy (turning quickly, hopping on my left foot, square dancing, or any other highly skilled walking-related maneuvers) but I'm almost ready to get rid of the cane.

Maybe not for awhile. Plus the cane is really cool and heavy enough to take out most opponents with one well-placed swing.

Also, there are some days when I feel really tired and achy. Especially when it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. The other day with the hellish heat and humidity I was really run down and glad I had the cane to help out.

SO a fond farewell to the wheelchair (and more space in the Element!). We'll miss you...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Recovery Update & Sadistic Sullivan

Dr. Sullivan is cool. But he likes to do stuff to my feet that could be considered torture, by some. When you hear a CLICK as you bend a toe violently back-- well it's not pleasant even if it doesn't hurt too much...

I was having an issue with a hammer toe (the pointer toe next to the stump) because of walking more and more. I got in to see Dr. Sullivan's partner at the Lafayette Foot Center (or whatever it's called) last Friday. Dr. Oliver used a dremel-type thing to obliterate the pointer toe's funky nail and then he wrapped it so it was huge and sorta straight. There was a little bit of a wound on the tip of the toe because of the hammer-ness. So I got a course of antibiotics to help knock out the infection too.

This Friday I got to see Dr. Sullivan. It was a joy to see him because he's got a sense of humor and he's blunt if there's something horribly wrong that needs to be chopped off. Plus he's an IU grad so he's one of the few sane people in Purdue-ville. He said the pointer toe looked good and then did a horrible procedure to the tendons in the pointer toe to straighten it out.

He took a needle-thing (that's the technical medical term, I'm sure) and poked it into the joint and wiggled it around some. This snapped the tendon, at least that's how I understood it when Dr. Oliver explained it last week. Then he did it at the other joint!

Dr. Sullivan loves his work.

He then straightened it out and pushed it back what seemed like WAAAY too far for a toe to go back comfortably. He wrapped it and said I was good to go.

Like the kid in class who reminds the teacher she forgot to give out any homework, I asked if the other toes looked okay to him. With glee, he pushed all of them, one at a time, WAAAY too far back. Most of them made snapping sounds and the pinky toes on both feet are bruised today. That should teach me to ask if my toes look okay- they're butt-ugly and they're fine...

Now for some possibly disturbing toe shots from Sullivan's office. The stump has been described by some as looking sorta 'snout-like'- you be the judge:

I go back in a couple of weeks for more torture follow-up on the toe straightening. He may do the procedure on some of the others then, but let's hope not....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Driving? Maybe Not

I love to drive.

I really love to drive.

I mean I LOVE it! The magical forward motion and the near-anti gravity on a curve or a hill. Driving is one of my few vices.

I haven't driven since maybe early February.

I drove the other day.

Driving is hard.

I drove for maybe 20 minutes total (probably actually less than that) and my legs were unhappy with me.

I was so tired I couldn't wait to become a mere passenger again.

I've been trying to use the cane for walking as much as I can stand during the day. And then I still use it to push myself.

I've been taking small flights of steps when I feel adventurous. Up is easier than down, but both ways are tiring.

Some simple in-town driving (downtown nonetheless!) took as much out of me as a whole day of walking around with the stick.

I still love to drive, though.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Meijer Epic Journey

I've been to Meijer in the wheelchair a few times. When I used to go to Meijer before the chair I could buzz through the whole grocery section pretty quickly- walking. So I figured I should try it with a cart to lean on and the cane as backup the other day...

I'm not as far along in walking as I thought I was.

It took much longer than I realized and I was very tired and achy at the end. But I barely went down half the aisles! It started out pretty easy with the cart to lean on like a wheeled walker thing (I hate those). But after the Produce area and into the cold meats area I was starting to feel it. My legs and feet started to hurt. A few times I thought I wouldn't make it out alive, but I managed to survive.

A quick trip into a store is one thing-- almost an hour of grocery shopping is a whole different beast. I think I'll stick with the chair for that kind of shopping trip for a while...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Recovery Update And Scooter/Cyclists Suck

I am still slowly relearning how to walk. I've been tending to get ahead of myself and walking too fast (5 steps a minute rather than 3). Then I realize that way lies possible tripping and falling, so I slow down to a more reasonable pace.

I've climbed some short 'flights' of stairs (the most was maybe 4 steps) and went down one looong flight (that was exciting!). Down stairs is much easier than up, but I'm getting closer to bounding up and down steps again (as well as trampling flowerbeds and kicking up dirt).

I've been trying to walk more and more each day. The chair is still seeing use when I'm tired from the whole walking thing or when I want to get somewhere faster than a turtle with a limp. Being tall again is nice, though sinks and shelves that seemed impossibly high up from the chair are far too low from a standing position. Either way the world is not built for one so exceptional as I...

As I'm slowly weaning myself from the chair I've seen more and more offenses against those in wheelchairs (or who need handicapped parking and access). The most annoying and prevalent are those BLEEPs who park their scooter or motorcycle in the blue diagonal lined areas beside handicapped parking spots. Those areas are for people with wheelchairs to have space to get their wheelchairs out of their vehicles! But no- some moron doesn't want his bike to be out in a regular space where someone might scratch it so he parks in the area marked off for the handicapped. I've been tempted to push the offending 'bike' over many times but have adopted the policy of telling the establishment's person-in-charge instead. Some of the manager/dork-in-charge people have looked at me like I'm speaking in calculus or ancient Sumerian. Others are happy to call and report it to the police, but they honestly tell me that the offending bike will likely be gone by the time the cops actually show up (if they show up at all).

If you know anyone with a 'bike' of any sort be sure to remind them NOT to park in-between handicapped spaces. It's just wrong and next time I may decide to push it over 'by accident' because someone needs to be taught a lesson- I mean because I'm still not a good walker yet and in the chair I sometimes lose control of it....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Slowly Walking But Still Mostly in the Chair

It's been about 2 weeks since the Doctor told me to start trying to walk with a cane. I've not overdone it... much. I've been trying to walk a little bit each day, slowly progressing with each attempt. But it's slow... ssslloooowww. Actually I'm the one who's slow, the progress is actually pretty good. But if I were to race a snail it would be neck-and-neck until the snail got a burst of energy and left me in the dust...

Walking with a cane (it's not the cane's fault) is hard and tiring. I now know why it is that toddlers need to take naps. I've gotten about halfway somewhere and thought "I should go back and opt for the chair" only to realize that it'll be just as far to go back as it would be to keep going. So I've kept going.

The best thing about walking (even very slowly walking) is that I'm TALL again. I can see farther and on top of things too. I can reach stuff that I could only dream about reaching from the chair. It's good to be tall.

I have not yet tackled any flights of stairs. I am slowly (very slowly) working up to it. I've taken a couple steps up and down here and there (curbs, thresholds, etc.) but really no more than two or three up and down. That will be interesting.

It's going to take time and I'm supposed to go at my own pace, so I will. I want to be done with the chair so I can rejoin the legged society....

Monday, April 18, 2011

People STILL Suck... Except When They Don't

We've done this before, but it was a while ago and more impolite, unaware, or just plain malicious people have been revealed to me since then. There have also been genuinely nice and helpful folks but the jerkwads are the ones you need to watch out for....

++Other Wheelchair/Handicapped Sticker People++
An incident at a well-known grocery store parking lot made me realize that other wheelchair-bound people can be BLEEPers too. We were patiently waiting to pull into a handicap parking space (all the spots were full but the two old guys who seemed to walk fine just got into their truck and were backing out). We had to wait for them to pull away before we could pull into the space. Well a latecomer with a wheelchair tag zoomed up from the other direction and pulled into the spot even though we were clearly headed to it with the blinker on and a prominent red wheelchair tag hanging from the rearview mirror. They didn't pay any attention to a shout of: "What the- ?" The old lady was later seen in a motorized store cart but she seemed to have no trouble walking into the store...

Which brings us to ANYONE in a motorized store cart. I've noticed this phenomenon even before I was in a wheelchair- those people don't' pay attention to where they're headed. They slowly crawl through the rows in the absolute center to block people from getting around them. They crash into people and carts and displays and anything else they can crash into without so much as a "Oops, sorry." I have thought about using one of these things but I don't want to run the risk of turning into a totally self-centered ahole...

++Door Opening Dude++
This guy coming out a set of big glass double doors someplace saw me roll up as he was coming out. He walked through the door and did that fake "I'm helping" push of the door so it would stay open a second as he walked away. It didn't help at all and he should not be proud of his failed attempt...

++People Who Use Someone Else's Handicapped Sticker Vehicle++
...just so they can park in a handicapped spot while they run some errands! I've seen this more times than I can count. Able-bodied young people parking in a wheelchair space and skipping into the building for a minute or two. Perhaps they're mentally disabled...

++Pregnant Lady++
I was heading out of JoAnn's (looking for some thick felt stuff like the Doctor used for my 'horseshoe') and a very pregnant lady was headed out in front of me. She stopped and held the door open for me to get out. The whole time I'm thinking "Should I tell her that I'll get the door for HER next time? Or would that sound really creepy?" So I went with a simple "thank you." She helped restore my faith in the fact that not everyone is a self-centered BLEEPer-- and she'll probably raise a good kid...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recovery Update - With Possibly Disturbing Pictures

If you don't want to see 'the stump' click away now!


Yesterday I saw Dr. Sullivan for (hopefully) the last time. He was very happy with the healing progress. He didn't cut on the bottom of the right foot this time because it's basically closed up. the left big toe area is also mostly closed up- there's still a little slower closing area on the leftmost edge of the toe. He had me stand up- not as easy as it sounds after over a month in the chair. he was impressed with it and told me to try to start walking a little with a cane. So THAT will be interesting...

Dr. Sullivan then got some medical adhesive felt/foam that's about 1/4" thick and cut a little 'u' shape (poorly). He did another one about the same size for later. He glued it to the bottom of the right foot around the callous area to help keep it from reforming or at least keep it from getting as bad as it was. This looks a lot like a little horseshoe (upside down, but still) to me. It is to be left on until it falls off or until I die...

Now for some pics of the almost totally healed up stump. The toes look really red in the pics but that was because Dr. Sullivan had just been squeezing them and I had stood up a moment earlier.

You have been warned about the coming stump shots - last chance to click away...






Monday, April 4, 2011


One interesting thing I've noticed over the past weeks in the chair is that little kids (2-4 and even younger) seem to take to me right away. I've always been kid-friendly and most of them sense it right off except for the most shy, but this has been different. Out of nowhere, while their parents often pretend I'm invisible, these kids wave and talk to me.

The best one was this little guy with big bags under his eyes at the Ivy Tech Library. He had just been to the storytime in the kid area and his Mom carried him with her so she could look for a book. I was near the fiction shelves looking at the graphic novel section to see if there was anything new. I heard him say something like "That man's looking for books." When I turned to look he pointed towards the stairway and said, "She came down the stairs." Sure enough, there was a lady who had just come down the stairs. I agreed with him and then he asked, "Are you looking for books too?" I told him I was, and he nodded then said, "That's my Mommy, she's looking for books." Then his Mom picked him up and asked if he forgot that he was going to be quiet while she looked- he wasn't loud or anything. He apologized and they headed back to the kid area. He waved and said bye so I reciprocated. Poor little guy getting in trouble for talking to the giant in a wheelchair...

Another notable recent kid encounter was at the Tippecanoe Mall. I intensely dislike the Mall. Though it is inside and it has mostly smooth floors. I wanted to use it to get a little exercise the other day (no thanks to my would-be 'helper monkey' who never got back to me) and see how I could deal with all the Mall-people. There were a few little kids who looked and waved while their parents tried to wrangle them or carry them through the flow of people. One little girl was in a big stroller (it may have been one of those 2-kid strollers). Her Mom was slowly pushing the stroller out of a store and I was coming toward them at a respectable pace. She watched me get closer, her bottle tipped up to enjoy the juice or milk or whatever. When I was almost to her she took the bottle from her mouth, waved with the other hand and said "hi." I smiled and returned the "hi" as we passed each other. I heard a squeal of delight from her over my shoulder, I guess made her day...

Encounters like these have helped me get through the many encounters with stupid people. Like the guy whose wheelchair parking tag expired in October last year, but he's still using it. I pointed out to him that it was expired and his reply was "So?" ... A-hole. Or the drunk guy who was ultra-pissed that I asked him to move something so I could get through a doorway. He had obviously placed it there but said he didn't know who put it there and called me "pity party" as he finally moved it (because he was too much of a wuss to throw a punch at a guy in a wheelchair)... A-hole.

I think kids have been more talkative to me because I'm closer to their height in the chair. Instead of towering over them by several times their stature I'm pretty much at their level. I guess they like that. As I've been typing this, a very little girl on her Daddy's lap at another computer has been smiling at me and waving every time I glance up. Kids...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Name and Shame - Plus Recovery Update

Here's the (lack of) left big toe wrapped in band-aids- this is what the doctor did. I'm changing it every day or so, the right foot every couple days because that wound is on the bottom and has LOTS of wrapping. The stitches on the left stump (some call it a stub) were removed this Monday and the doctor said it was looking good. So recovery is on track but accessibility is still not.

Over the past two weeks or so, I've been to several places that you'd think would be accessible (they have the little wheelchair signs) but they're really not. Mostly it's stupid little things that need to be changed or moved a little so that someone in a chair can move around. Let's start the list:

+McDonald's (Tippecanoe Mall)+
The restroom access is less than ideal (a nice way to say it sucks). There's a potted fake tree in the alcove/entryway between the restrooms. The way the doors are configured that area would be better if the tree were smaller or not there so people could maneuver better. The door's automatic closer thing is set so tight that even walking people have a little trouble pushing it open. This is the place where I was struggling with the door for nearly five minutes and people were walking by and looking but they would just keep going. When these problems (and very simple fixes) were reported to the manager on duty she said she'd have to get approval from her supervisor before they could do anything-- that was a couple weeks ago and still no word...

Their fancy new(er) restrooms have beautiful tiles with two floor drains that are unmarked. Once you start sliding and can't get any traction you realize the trap. One would think that a hardware+ store (with all kinds of tiles and such at their disposal) would be able to do something about slippery tiles in their own restrooms...

+Tippecanoe Public Library - Klondike Branch+
Klondike has excellent main doors with motion sensors and wide aisles between shelves, but the restroom is a bit of a problem. The door was heavy with a tight closer (this was fixed when I was there the other day}. But there's also the matter of this useless little trashcan right by the door in the tiny antechamber when you enter. There's no need for it to be there (there are NO paper towels only air dryers) because there's a lot of room under the sink. Otherwise Klondike is pretty wheelchair friendly...

+Payless (Greenbush)+
I don't know how many times I've gone to the bathroom at the Greenbush Payless over the years, but you'd think I would have noticed the big trashcan hiding behind the door. The trashcan blocks the door from opening more than half way. For most walking people this is not a big deal, just a minor annoyance of a half-open door. For someone in a wheelchair there is no way to get through unless, like me, you've got long enough arms so you can reach the can and move it out of the way from a weird angle. This has finally (after TWO reports to the staff) gotten the attention it deserves and they should soon have a shorter trashcan that fits under the towel dispensers, so this shouldn't be a problem much longer...

The store itself is very wheelchair friendly. The customers at the pharmacy, on the other hand- they tend to leave empty carts after checking out. And they don't even try to park them stacked together. One goes this way, the other the opposite way with another at an odd angle... It's just another one of those "lack of common courtesy" things that you see everyday even if you're NOT in a chair...

There are more places to name and shame, but I'll save them for later because there are several other places I need to check out. I can say that even though I hate Wal-Mart (bleeps!) they do have some of the nicest most level floors around.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

People Suck... Except When They Don't

+The Indefinable Dr. S.+
It turns out that she's likely from the "Health Management Company" so some of her behavior takes on new meaning in that light. We started off pretty rocky when I returned from my room after practicing with the wheelchair around the hospital corridors (I wanted to figure some things out BEFORE being released into the wild). She was sort of waiting for me and the first thing out of her mouth seemed to be "I don't know why you weren't discharged on Friday." What the-? Friday noon is when the amputation was-- and I was still on IV antibiotics and I didn't have a wheelchair that fit (standard size doesn't work for 6' 4.5" guys). I hadn't seen any of the PT/OT folks until Saturday and it wasn't until Monday afternoon that the current better-sized chair arrived.

The next encounter came Tuesday morning when she came in with my chart to lecture me about something. "Your hygiene is poor and you're obviously a smoker..." The smoker part was the straw that snapped my patience. I'm usually very considerate to others and I don't get into strangers' or authority figures' faces unless it's something totally outrageous. I smoked 2 cigars in college after big tests-- that was nearly 20 years ago (geeze! I'm olde!) - and I let her know it. Then she went back to the desk after explaining that's good I don't smoke (no apology for being an ass and NOT READING THE CHART). After a few minutes the hygiene remark was gnawing at me more and more, so I rolled out to the desk and asked how she came to that assumption. Was it the long hair and beard? Was it because I had only had sponge baths the past week? Her clarification was that she meant FOOT hygiene because I didn't go to a podiatrist. What the-? My feet are messed up and I don't have the money to go to a podiatrist, but she thought that was a poor excuse.

Finally the Wednesday encounter. I knew I was getting out that afternoon, so I was in an okay mood, just a little anxious about getting around in the chair. Dr. S. walked past my door and then came back. She smiled (it looked kinda fake) and said something about how I was going to get discharged today. Then she said something like she was glad I was doing better. Then, I kid you not, she informed me that "I'm chatting and socializing with you" before heading off. What the-? If you need to tell someone that you're chatting and socializing with them then you're obviously doing it wrong. I later discovered that most people have a problem with Dr. S.'s general demeanor, so my paranoia was proven correct this time...

+Ignorers (Blatant and Otherwise)+
I've noticed that a good percentage of 'legged' folks tend to simply pretend that people in wheelchairs don't exist. I first noticed it rolling around in JCPenny looking for a tie. Maybe 45% of the people in the aisles would glance and then look away like they didn't see anything OR just continue to look straight ahead like there was nothing there to see. That's fine unless they don't move their bleeping carts or selves when there's not enough room to get past with a chair.

Then there are those who bump into the chair because they didn't see it or they weren't paying attention or they're just generally a-holes. It's usually younger people that do this. I'm thinking "you never learned how to avoid obstacles when you were little?"

+Fake Helpers+
There have been many genuine offers of "can I help you?" "can I get that door for you?" and the like. But there have been a few people who simply pretend to try to help out while not doing anything remotely helpful.

This usually takes the form of someone coming out of a door when I'm trying to go in. They push the door open as they come through like you'd do for a 'legged' person walking towards the door. THIS DOES NOT WORK for someone in a wheelchair. Sure you can get some speed on a nice flat surface, but entering doors is usually NOT nice and flat. Most doors have a lip that you have to power yourself over. Pushing the door open only makes it take longer for someone in a chair. You have to wait for the door to close or roll up to it and try to 'catch' it before it closes. Then you still have to pull it open.

If you're gonna 'fake help' you might as well push the chair backwards or throw a stick in front of me....

+Actual Helpers+
Despite the unhelpfuls and just-plain-rude people mentioned above there are good people who actually help out or genuinely offer to help. Alice (the Purdue student who helped out finding the wheelchair entrance), that guy who held the door at Burger King, and the lady who helped get the chair out of the crappy McDonald's doors/obstacle course all deserve kudos for being there and providing help without being asked. Good people seem to be rarer but maybe it's just that the crappy people make more of an impression.

Although sometimes the offers of help seem sort of silly and tedious (I can change the toilet paper-- I'm going in there to USE it that's why I asked for some) I realize that they're genuine offers and I do appreciate them. I really need to take advantage of these simple offers more often rather than doing everything myself that I CAN actually do. It makes those helping feel good and it'll probably rack up some karma points I could use later on....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Purdue Campus Adventure

So the first full day out of the hospital was pretty interesting. When I was in the hospital I got a message from one of the Purdue jobs I had applied for recently. i called the guy back then and told him the situation but I'd try to make it to the interview (just in case, he gave me his cellphone number).

I don't usually get dressed up, and I forgot to get a tie from storage to go with my interview outfit. How much would a tie cost? A lot bleeping more than you'd think! Since I'm pretty tall I figured the best place to go would be the Big&Tall store on 52. The little strip mall it's in has ONE ramp in the middle of the building far from the designated handicapped parking. Fine. But it's been there for a very long time and weathering has turned its edges into a crappy un-ramplike surface. A bit of struggle with the parking lot and the "ramp" and it was into the store... $30 for a tie?! Well there were some clearance ties, but they were all $17 or more. That's way too much for a tie and the guy was nice enough to suggest checking out JCPenny at the mall.

Off to the hated mall (I don't "do" the mall even when I can walk but I figured it would be worthwhile to see how accessible or not it was). The handicapped spaces were placed more for mall access than for JCPenny access, but it wasn't that far to roll across another slightly crappy parking lot (off-road!) and up the not too bad ramp to the sidewalk that went to the JCP doors. The double-doors didn't have a button to automatically open and if I were on my own they would've been bleeping hard to get through. The main thoroughfares were mostly fine (except for the few oblivious people who didn't "see" me in a wheelchair rolling along) but amongst the racks and display tables it was a very tight fit or totally impassable. Eventually we found the ties and there was one that looked pretty good with the shirt I would wear. $6 for a tie is more like it-- but it was the only one in their tie clearance area for that price, the rest were $15-$17 - outrageous!

I got all gussied up without much trouble and it was off to the Physics Building. We'd scouted the area before and there was a little wheelchair sign with an arrow pointing at the ramp area we decided would be the best place to drop me off. I rolled past one set of doors to the main entrance where there was another little wheelchair sign with an arrow pointing back the way I had come. BLEEP! So I rolled back to that first set of doors that I had dismissed only to find that they were access to a big stairwell. There was another little wheelchair sign with an arrow pointing toward the ramp drop-off point. BLEEP! I started to back out to the main sidewalk and there was a female student walking up.

"Can I help you find the entrance?"

"Sure, thanks. I guess it's around the back or something?"

"Let me go around and find it so you won't waste your time searching for it. These signs are pretty misleading."

So Alice was gone for a couple of minutes and when she returned she explained where the entrance with a ramp was on the other side of the building. I had about 10 more minutes before I had to be in the building for the interview. She asked if it would be offensive if she pushed me and I said no but I could make it if she had someplace to get to. I thanked her for her help and she went on her way.

The trip around the building was interesting with two or three other passers-by asking if I needed any help- who knew Purdue folks were so nice. Finally i got to the ramp- an obvious afterthought to the original building design. It was a bit narrow and I'd hate to navigate it when there was snow or rain. The door had a button for automatic opening and I was then confronted with the lift.

There was a small flight of stairs and a monstrous lift with a joystick on the wall to bring it up to the door level. I rolled into the little lift and, because I'm so tall and the leg supports stick out a bit further than the normal wheelchair-bound person, I was slightly jostled while the lift went down because the leg support and the wheels were too close to the front ramp and the back wall. No damage done though.

Before I reached the ground (only 5 feet or so from the door) I saw a female student or staffer going by the doorway to the lift room. "Excuse me, do you know where room 34 is?" I later learned that nobody but the guy I was interviewing with knows the room numbers in the building. The numbers were going lower around the corner and around another corner until she left me to find the way on my own because she was going to the elevator. I finally came to 34 and the door was open. I think they were a little surprised I was in a wheelchair but the interview went well.

The guy who did the interview let me use his phone to call my ride, then he showed me a shortcut to the lift. He pushed me up up the ramp and over to the curb where my ride pulled up.

It was interesting to see the difference in attitudes toward the chair on and off campus. Maybe 60% of the people off-campus ignored or stared at me while only about 20% were like that on-campus. It could've been because Spring Break but I think it's probably like that all the time....

Friday, March 18, 2011

How'd YOU End Up In a Wheelchair?

Well, I'm diabetic and I had some sores that got infected on both feet. I had been getting them treated for over a month and then the wound guy said "It looks like the infection is back in these three toes. I'm going to send you to the ER and have them get a specialist for this." The infection had gotten into the bone at the tip of the left big toe (or "great toe" if you're a medical professional) and there was a sort calloused dome in the center of the right foot just under the toes (one doctor said you could fit about 10 dimes in the hole that's there now) that was trimmed up so it could heal. The left big toe was removed to the first knuckle, so there's about half of it left and it looks like a bad horror movie special effect.

A little over a week later I'm in a wheelchair out in the wild. I'm supposed to keep weight off the left foot and I can use the right heel to transfer in and out of the chair. The Doctor said that I'll need to stay off of them anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months, so this will get interesting. It's only been about 3 days and I'm learning that many so-called wheelchair accessible places aren't. I've already had some interesting experiences with the general public that I plan to share here.

But the first gripe I have are those air-power door closers that most places have on their doors. Those things are really hard to push open from a chair with wheels. And they usually close right away so if you're alone or don't run into a kind passerby you're screwed.

And the automatic door openers that you hit a button for at some places weren't thought out enough. Some of the buttons are right where the door will open so you need to hit it and roll out of the way before the door swings open and sqashes you like a bug.

Many places that you'd think would have these sorts of problems in mind and would have them conquered don't. Like at the hospital, I was trying to get a feel for the chair and how to do various things I thought I'd encounter out in the wild. So I went to one of the wheelchair sign bathrooms and it had an air-power door closer thing that made it IMPOSSIBLE for someone in a wheelchair who was alone to get into. Between the lack of traction from the carpet and the placement of the door and the cramped space to maneuver in it was an obstacle that I had to conquer-- I didn't but I gave it many a tenacious try. And this was IN THE HOSPITAL. The nurses and physical/occupational therapy people all heard about it and sent their concerns up the chain of command, so something should be done about it.

A lot of this stuff has made me pretty mad even though I'm only gonna be in the chair for a short time. My concern is for people who are in chairs for the rest of their lives. I'd never thought about it much except to make a joke or two about "Damned wheelchair people get the good parking spots." I realized at the time that they NEED to park close but I have an even deeper understanding of just how much of bitch it is to get out of a vehicle in a crappy parking lot and try to roll across uneven ground to the ramps that are poorly maintained and or poorly built in the first place. I think I'm becoming a wheelchair advocate...

Next up-- The Purdue Campus Adventure