Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Wheels

Power wheelchairs are supposed to last about five years. Since I got my Action Arrow chair in about 1996, it has filled its life expectancy and then some. With parts getting hard to find and it starting to show its age, I started the process of getting a new chair eight years ago.

After looking at several options, I found one that I thought would work. However, after five years of frustration and finally legal assistance, that chair is gone and I started again early this year. I'm happy I can finally say I picked up my new power wheelchair last Thursday. It has been a long wait, but this looks to be a good improvement.

My dad is extremely good with fixing things, especially wheelchairs. Even with my three decades as a quad, this is only my third power chair. This is the first chair I've been able to choose the color, so I got midnight blue. Not much of it shows, but it is there. Another first for me is that this setup does not have a place for a ventilator.

It has been nearly three years since I used a vent outside my home. Therefore, I decided to leave this attachment off and shorten the total length. I still have my old chair with the vent tray if I need to go back on it, but I pray that won't be needed. The trick now is to figure out where to store my portable suction and ambu bag, but we'll figure it out.

Saturday, dad and I took the chair out around town for some testing. It worked well on the bike path, but the settings still need some adjusting. The biggest relief is that it fits well in our church elevator, with a few inches to spare! After years of having to push against the doors to fit in, it will be a nice change.

There are still a few things that need work, so I won't be fully switched for a little while, but this is definitely a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately, after getting home from Saturday's testing, dad noticed something leaking from the back of the van. Further investigation found that the rear axle needs work and it isn't going anywhere. Therefore, this week's upcoming bike ride and meetings are likely not going to happen unless he can get it fixed quickly or find something I can fit in. Church today was via radio and likely will be via computer tonight.

I am thankful to be seeing an end to all these years of working on a new chair. Now if the other wheels I use to get around cooperate, I will have well functioning transportation all around. Fortunately, we didn't have problems while we were out or when it was just my caregiver and I. We'll see what the next week brings in the quad life.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Advice from a...

For the past few years, I have stopped at a particular booth at the fair that sells t-shirts. The booth's main promotion is the Iowa Arboretum, but they sell shirts that say "Advice from a..." Then various items offering advice. So far, I have advice from a: trout, woodlands, barn, pig, and this year's addition, firefly.

Each one includes four to five sayings that are the item's advice. Most are common phrases I've heard before, but often produce thought or a smile. A few items of advice from the barn are to hold your horses and keep your barn door closed. For the trout, he says to keep pulling and not go after shiny objects. They are fun shirts that can start a conversation or just to wear around the house.

I was thinking the other day of what I would put on a shirt for advice from a quad. They aren't quite as witty as some of my shirts, but I think they fit. Here is the list I have from today:
  • Keep on rolling
  • Go with the flow
  • Accept a helping hand
  • Go forth and conquer
  • Speak softly and carry a mouth stick
If I keep thinking about it, I may swap a few out, but that's a fairly good start. Roll with the punches was a possibility, but I didn't think it sounded quite right. Maybe someday I'll perfect them and offer them to a t-shirt company.

This looks like another busy week, so it's an early and shorter post this time. For now in the quad life, it's time to keep on rolling.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dodging Rain Drops

The Iowa State Fair is an annual event that my family likes to attend. We don't really do anything particular, we just like going. It started last week Thursday, but the weather was forecast to be very hot and sunny with today being comfortable in the low 80's and a slight chance of rain. You would think in my 33 years I should have learned not to trust meteorologists, but I haven't.

Thursday was a wonderful day that would have been great to spend outside. Today barely got up to 70° and rained all day, sometimes quite heavily. Nevertheless, my dad, main caregiver, and I tackled the fair despite the weather. Getting parking that works for my van is always a challenge, but we easily got to the correct lot with very little crowd. The attendant then gave us a spot that perfectly put my wheelchair lift into the largest puddle anywhere in sight.

Before getting out of the van, we started what became the day's routine. Put a poncho on to cover my chair and myself before going out and take it off when inside a building. While wearing this outfit between buildings, my caregiver and I noticed an odd behavior from people around us. They would give me an odd look (which is normal), look down at my feet, then with even bigger eyes look back at me.

I don't know if they thought my bare feet were indicative of my outfit and that I was naked under my poncho or what was going through their heads. I maybe should have asked, but no one wanted to stay out in the rain longer than necessary. With that being the case, we did go through buildings more thoroughly than normal and didn't mind waiting to see something. At the model railroad layout, we spent about half-an-hour talking with a member about his memories of steam trains and enjoyment of models.

Shortly after we returned home from paddling through the fairgrounds, the rain stopped and sun came out. The added challenge made for a new experience this year, but not one that I hope to repeat. Today's lesson in the quad life is to remember that God has made the earth with its weather systems and fallible man (like meteorologists) is still trying to understand it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Positive Thoughts

A few of my online friends do not believe in God as I do and live their life accordingly. I share the life I've been given as a Christian and try to be an example of Godly leaving. I have found an odd phrase though that to me, doesn't make sense.

When something isn't going well and is a time I would ask for prayer, these friends ask for prayer and positive thoughts. I always wonder what positive thoughts are supposed to do. It's great to think nicely about someone and have an uplifting attitude around them. However, I don't see beyond that what the purpose is. Who are you thinking positively to or who are you willing these thoughts toward? It's just something that doesn't seem to make sense, but I'm coming at it from a different perspective.

As a Christian, I believe we're called to bring requests to God in prayer. If someone is struggling in some situation, this is a great time for prayer for the individual. It can be comforting knowing you have a community of people praying for you. I guess it can be somewhat similar if people are thinking positively about you, but it doesn't seem to be as significant.

I learned this weekend that a fellow graduate camper from CHAMP Camp passed away. Karen had full control of her body, but used breathing assistance at night. I don't remember her diagnosis or know how she died, but she was close in age to me and appeared to be in better physical condition.

Other camp friends were sharing memories from our years together at camp and how Karen was one that could always make us laugh. I remember "catching" her one night at the battle between the boys' and girls' cabin giving a good soaking with a squirt gun. Times have changed in that we no longer have these exact feuds, but memories and stories continue.

We are given a short time in this life and have an impact on others whether we acknowledge it or not. This family will be in my prayers as this woman is laid to rest. Challenges abound in the quad life as in any other, but there will come a time when every knee shall bow and tongue confess, Jesus is Lord of all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Additions

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how my chair is showing its age during my biking sessions. I now have an upgrade thanks to these findings.

Late last week I received a new cushion for the seat of my chair. It's more basic than what I had, but it's a big improvement. My butt no longer sinks in with my legs going up to meet the seat. That means my feet now lay flat on the pedals and I sit higher in the chair. It's great to see my heals no longer floating in mid air, but now the upper half has problems.

I can barely reach the button that allows me to get my controls back in front of me and my side now rubs on the armrest more. One of three pressure sores is also now more irritated than it used to be, so it likely means the pressure in the seat needs to be adjusted.

When dad took the old cushion off, the glue from the Velcro fasteners was a gelled gooey mess. Also all the years of use had taken a major toll, so it was enthusiastically tossed in the garbage bin. I'm glad to see the change though and have been up in my chair a little more since the cushion has been on. This week's bike ride will be a real good determining factor for it. The other addition this week is a little more on the wet side.

My family and I are not pet people, but I do have a 45 gallon aquarium in my room. Probably 6-7 years ago we got three little orange platies for the tank. They apparently were very friendly as we haven't purchase any sense then and regularly have 30-40 fish. Since they have been inbred for so long, some have small fins, missing, etc., but it has been a tank of orange fish of various sizes. Saturday we purchased a couple angelfish, one light gray and two black.

Angelfish like to eat small fish, so we're hoping they will hope solve the overpopulation problem we've been having. After so many years of the same fish swimming around, it seems odd to look over and see something different.

Whether it's a higher view in my chair or a different one in the tank, it has been another busy week in the quad life. We'll see what comes up in another seven days, or less!