Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wheelchair Mishaps

Yesterday I got some wonderful advice about scooters and power wheelchairs, I'm going to check out sites today. It got me wondering, thinking I might dare to share. So, to all the other wheelies out there have you ever experienced these wheelchair mishaps ...

1) When using your wheelchair without the pedals on, you swing too quickly and run over your own feet. I do this with amazing regularity - mostly in my kitchen wheelchair because I just use it to move around the kitchen. It's tall so my feet just dangle - I'll make a quick turn and suddenly - OWWWWWWW.

2) Heading down a ramp using gloved hands for brakes, you let the speed build up, it's exciting, it's fun, oh my god there is a small lip at the bottom, your chair catches and the whole back lifts off the floor .... I've never been thrown out of the chair but I've come close. The worst thing is looking up and seeing the stares of horror on the faces of everyone around - because they chose that moment to watch you.

3) Wheeling into a toilet stall only to find that the toilet has overflowed and now your tires are sitting in toilet water and you just want to gag ... you try to back up while keeping your hands away from any wet - it's impossible but you try.

4) Hunkering down in your wheelchair to let slip a silent fart, only to have the seat of your wheelchair act like a snare drum - then having everyone steadfastly ignore you, assuming that passing public gas is 'part of your condition poor dear'.

5) Finding your dressing gown caught in the tires, being unable to move without strangling yourself, feeling like Houdini on a bad day trying to get out of the gown without ripping it or pulling your arm out of the socket.

6) Unintentionally backing into someone, running over their toes - I'm not counting the times that this happens more or less on purpose (admit it, you do it, I know you do).

7) Coming down a steep grade and you put on the brakes but as much as your hands are trying to slow the chair, suddenly the rubber moves independantly so the rims are stable but the rubber rolls - the breaks aren't working and your heart is pounding because you are going way faster than you think is fitting. Who'd have thought the rubber would move?

8) Entering into a place that you think the wheelchair will fit only to find the area is too narrow, now you've got to get out, backward, through people lined up behind you. As much as you say, excuse me, they are so busy 'not noticing you' that they don't hear you either.

9) It's pissing down rain and when you go to get in the chair it's soaking wet, you try to dry it down, but it's raining, all you can do is plop down in a wet chair and feel the cold, wet water soak into your back and butt.

10) You decide to show off you're wheelie skills and make a quick turn and in doing so you knock down a display of paper towels. Because you were showing off - there were people watching. But it's ok cause no one ever blames you for this kind of thing - now they get to show off 'helping'.

Am I missing some? I hope so, I'd be tickled to read others experiences in 'da chair'.


diary-in-ds.livejournal.com said...

Ohh my gosh, #8 rings familiar for me.

I remember I was 19, and using a chair on my first real "trip" by myself to visit my sister in Toronto. We went to a bar to see a band I really liked, and the security let us in without cover. After the show we were in the bar section when security partially closed the partition between the bar and the performance area. When it was time for the next band to go on, I wheeled through the crowds of up and coming rock stars (saying hi, and even recieving hugs from a few) to head back to the stage area when I saw how narrow the exit opening was. I knew if I pushed my way through I would skin my fingers, so I figured one good alignment and energetic push would have me gracefully sail through the partition. I aimed, gave a good push, and - was stuck instantly. Jammed between the friggin partitions. Completely STUCK. Security had to come over with a key to unlock the partitions and widen them. Just a touch embarassing! And for some reason, I seemed to be the only person who found it funny!


Susan said...

My dad (age 84) got a power chair last summer but hasn't been well enough to use it much so his driving skills are less than what he'd like them to be. He's been waiting for the warm weather and the sidewalks to clear so he could get "out" and start living again. Last week he called us to tell us about his first adventure. He was laughing so hard that he could hardly get the words out. First off he went to the bank. (Well, you can't go to the casino on your first trip out on your own in 8 months without a little money for the slots, can you?) "The door of the bank couldn't have been open any wider," he sputtered through laughter, "but I missed it!" He had slammed into one doorpost and everyone looked. My dad is very shy and for everyone to look would have been MORTIFYING to him. But he decided to look at the humourous side and carry on.

Finished with his business at the bank, he headed to the casino, which is a mile or so from his apartment. The bank, I am assuming, is somewhere in between. When he got to the front door of the casino, the chair stopped dead, and so, of course did he. The power was gone. Once again he was laughing, but I can only imagine how hard it must have been for him to get the attention of a stranger and then ask for their help. There was much hemming and hawing about what might be wrong. Dad had to tell them over and over that the battery COULDN'T be dead because he had just charged it and besides there was an alternate one, so if something went wrong with one, the other would kick in. Finally they found a loose wire, quickly reconnected it and he was back in business.

I forgot to ask him if he won any money that day, but judging from his good humour about it all, he must have!

Anonymous said...

Oh my yes - some fun 'mishaps'

There was the time I went up the side of the highest waterfall in Austria. Poor chair did really well until half way up - then blew a fuse.

"Meine rollstuhle ist kaput" - I said to all and sundry who were on their way down. Eventually the mountain rescue arrives!! Complete with fork lift truck - gets me down the mountain and back to the car and helps push the wheelchair (our of gear) into the car. We have a photo somewhere of me in the mountain rescue vehicle.

Then going into Scone Palace in Scotland. There was no disabled access - listed building and all that - so got the trusty ramps from the car and bugger - they were about 5 inches too short to reach the top. So my husband stands of the top of one and the chappie at the entrance to the palace stands on the top of the other and I drive hell for leather at the bottom (missing) bit - get a purchase with the front wheels and zoom up as they leap off at the top before I run them down.

Then there was the time we went to the States and had to get a hoppa bus to the car hire place - couldn't get in the bus - out come the ramps again and stretch from pavement (y'all might call it sidewalk) into bus and off we go.

Then I took my daughter to Australia and she was having problems with her knees so we took the manual chair as well. You should have seen the looks we had with me towing her behind me at high speed through the airports to catch the plane.

And yes there have been some hairy moments when I have been really glad I can get out of the chair for a while and I have driven it for a few yards over/up/down ground I really didn't fancy while sitting in it. I have careered around the hills at Tara (Ireland), up and down - and Iron Age Hillforts more locally - zipping around the tops of some or jusst sitting comfortably soaking up the atmosphere and the views.

The swivel wheels can be a bugger - you get into a small place and reversing means the wheels have to turn which if you are not careful can swing you into a trap you will not get out of in a hurry!!

The day I went into a shop and between two aisles of videos and reversed - forgetting the swivel wheel problems and caught on a hook on the racks and ended up wheel deep in videos. Then had to wait for the staff to clear up the mess because any movement would have destroyed umpteem videos. They said with some dismay - but we set that up yesterday and it is exactly the recommended width for wheelchairs. So I said well now - did you allow for the wobble factor? Explained some people had a tremor and needed extra space - then some people had extra large wheelchairs - more extra space and then there are people who just don't drive too well .... They were very good about it - said they would redo the whole thing a bit wider.

I could go on and on - but these give a flavour


Anonymous said...

Picture this: autumn, beautifull brown leave covering everything. You try to avoid anything you don't want to run over. But eventually you miss just that one snail, pile of dog poo or piece of gum.
Nothing's nicer that you hand feeling the cold, peanutbutterlike goo on your hands, jacket and sleeves.

And of you notice it on time, you still have to pry it out of the profile of your tires with a stick...

Shan said...

The toilet water thing...and Martijn's 'goo' comment...how is it I never thought before about anything that is on the floor ending up on your hands? Thanks for enlightening me.

FridaWrites said...

I hate it when I try to hurl my scooter onto the elevator and have the speed too high, only to give myself whiplash when I hit the railing on the back wall. I've come close to tipping, too--really embarrassing. More often I accidentally lean on my horn as I try to give myself additional upper body support. And the scooter makes a really loud noise itself when it shorts out and I have to try repeatedly to start it (all the time).

I've also been surprised to see myself be able to get into a space easily only to not be able to back out of it.

On the scooters and glass doors issue--I have been able to do it with some practice, though my particular disability causes me trouble with that regardless and I really shouldn't try it. An additional problem is that often doors are opened with your right hand and the scooter control is also right handed. If you can get the left door open, that might work easier.

In the U.S., you can managed double doors in post 1990 construction, but you're a glass-and-metal sandwich in pre 1990 construction since there's not enough space between the doors.

FridaWrites said...

Oh--we also started putting an extra towel in the car for rain. I can't get the seat completely dry, but it helps. Put the towel in the seat of the chair before you get it out of the car if you have a lift or immediately as it's unfolded. Then swing the towel out right before you sit down. Still doesn't help with the whole lack of umbrella coverage; even if you wear a hooded rain jacket, your legs still get a lot more wet than with an umbrella.

Ettina said...

In assisting disabled people, I've dealt with the opposite of #9 - getting a wet person in their wheelchair after swimming without getting the seat wet (and thereby making them get wet again after changing). The solution we used was to drape a towel over the seat. Now, it wasn't as much wet as it would be with rain - maybe it'll help to also tip the chair over to drain the water before sitting?

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