Monday, September 10, 2012

How Our Tools Spent the Weekend

My power wheelchair, Henry to his friends, was fixed yesterday. Over the years of use the back had become twisted. My chair is wider than normal because, um, I'm wider than normal, and sometimes I don't aim exactly right. As a result of this poor aim I sometimes hit my armrest on a doorjamb on the way in. There is be a sound 'crack' when armrest hits the door.  For some reason I always hit my left hand rest, which is good because if it was the right hand I could do damage to my controls.

Separately, I noted that the back was no longer square and I had started asking my friends not to rest their hands on the left hand handle as there was a troubling wobble to it. Well, a few days ago, Joe figured out that the back of the wheelchair was constructed to be moveable ... further up, further back, depending on the needs of the rider. It's actually a clever construction. So when I hit the door frame, or more accurately repeatedly hit door frames, I had driven back the back on that side. Joe was almost triumphant in saying that he knew how it was to be fixed. Loosen screws here, push it back into place there, tighten screws again.catastrophize

(Hold on to your hats for major personal revelation.) We have a toolbox.

We don't know how to use the tools in it, but we have a tool box. Well, that's not fair, Joe knows how to use some of the tools to do a few things around the house. But even with that, we aren't the 'fix it' type. Having a house was sheer hell because people who can't do things have to pay lots and lots and lots of money to people who can. Now, the most important tool we have is the phone in which we used to call the superintendent of the building who then sends us the surly repair guy who always looks like he's just been awoken from hibernation under a leaky sink. But, I digress.

A friend was over the other day wanting to use our computer for a few hours as hers was down. We were heading out to go with other friends to The Last Night of the Proms at a movie theatre equidistant from our various homes. I asked, nicely, maybe a little plaintively, as she was good with tools, could she find time to adjust my wheelchair. We showed her the problem, she looked at us with that kind of wide-eyed disbelief that people who can do things use on people who can't do things, and simply nodded that she would take care of it. I explained to her that I had to be out of the apartment when this was done because it would cause me too much stress and I need to be distracted so that I couldn't . I used to have to do this when our computer was being worked on - had to just leave.

So we went to lunch with friends and then to the Proms, I managed to forget everything about the repairs that were to be made on my chair. We had a great time singing and humming along to the antics at Royal Albert Hall (which I point out parenthetically Joe and I saw for the first 6 times when lost in London looking for our hotel, we kept going in a circle and passing the Hall, we finally found a taxi and paid the driver to lead us to the hotel which was, of course, no where near the Royal Albert).  We got home to Henry looking like he'd been to a really good chiropractor with his back completely aligned.

It wasn't until the next day that I got to ride in the chair and the change was remarkable. I realized that I'd been riding without using the back, because the back no longer seemed strong and stable, and that now I was fully supported. I'd be able to go farther and I'd have less back pain. Amazing.

On my way home, carrying lots of groceries, I sped away from Joe and just went on a joy ride again. It was awesome to be able to whip along feeling that my chair, literally had my back.

I called my friend to say 'Thanks' and she said that she got this weird feeling, while fixing the chair, that she was performing surgery on legs. Then she got all, "did I say the wrong thing" and stumbled around, "You know, it's like what you use to walk with, get around, it's not like anything else I've ever fixed. I'm glad you weren't around, I'd have been even more nervous."

 So, all this to say, my chair is fixed.


Anonymous said...

Great "tools", great friend, great weekend!


Belinda said...

Yeay! Sit back in comfort!

joanne said...

Keep on rolling Dave...thanks for continuing to blog!! :) have a great day

ivanova said...


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for friends with tools! One of the women in our group calls us the ladies who fix things. She was astounded when we used a drill. I like that.

Nan said...

"Now that I was fully supported I would be able to go farther." Wow. That just about sums up a lot of things. I like that your friend had that kind of friend-like respect for your chair!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think we are all like tools in a toolbox. They are nice to own and have great potential - potential that isn't fully realized until they are used. In the hand of an expert - great things can happen. In supportive and loving hands - indeed GREAT things can happen. (Not that I'm calling anyone a tool :-) ha ha

betty said...

You got a very inspiring blog. Thanks to your chiro and your friend, you're now back in perfect form. Keep us inspired, Dave.

Ettina said...

Reminds me of how I felt trying to help a woman whose controller had gotten detached and kept falling off the arm of her chair. I'm not technically skilled, nor did we have tools available, so I basically ended up cobbling together something with duct tape that would hopefully hold until she could get it properly repaired. It was a really frustrating experience because I knew how important it was for her to be able to reach her controller, but I found it extremely hard to get it secure enough for her to use.

Incidentally, I'm walking, and I have a tendency to bump into things due to poor proprioception. I actually have a scar on one arm where I banged into something sharp and gouged out a small chunk of flesh. Be glad it's Henry and not you who gets banged up! (Fortunately, taking karate seems to have helped me with this. I wonder if there's any sort of wheelchair martial arts?)