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


  1. Jesus, man, I had no idea you were in such straits.

    Still, it sounds like you're in the process of recovering... I wish you all the best. I'm not much of a praying man myself, but I know plenty of people who are - I'll make sure that they put in a good word for you.

  2. Dude. I know we're related, but I just wanted to say how proud I am of you, both for your tenacity and patience, AND for this blog. It's good you are observing, recording and sharing this - most folks (including me) didn't truly think about this before!