Haste Makes Waste

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If you’re reading this as a SCI survivor or family member, you understand that everything, I mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, takes longer to do than it used to. If you’re able bodied in how you move about, here is an insight for you into our world and a reason for you to count your blessings. Given limited time in a day, it is only logical that I work to streamline or use as few steps as are necessary in everything I do. However, my Dad’s adage haste makes waste comes back to haunt me.

Want to hear some of the problems I’ve gotten myself into? Some are embarrassing but I share to remind myself and to warn others of the risks.

  • One day it had been raining and my ramp was wet from our earlier stop. We arrived for a brunch at a new venue and finally found a parking spot with an opening on the correct side of the van so I could lower and exit the ramp safely. Feeling like we were in a bit of a hurry, I didn’t make sure my feet were both still on the footrest and also neglected to hook my left elbow around the handle located behind my left shoulder designed for someone to push. I started down the ramp, and it seemed we had a perfect storm. Whether it was the wet ramp, the toe of my shoe skidding down, or my body not hooked and secured into place, but my wheelchair slowed and my body kept going. I quickly found myself lying on the floor of the parking lot at the foot of my van’s ramp. Thankfully my husband was right there and has the strength to lift me back into the WC. Haste makes waste.
  • One day we arrived back in our condo parking lot and I decided to quickly release my seatbelt, unhook the security hooks in the van floor, turn 90* to exit the van, and be ready to go as soon as the car stopped and ramp was lowered. I was even feeling a bit smug for ‘beating the clock’ on this series of maneuvers. Imagine my shock when I looked down to watch the ramp’s final decline and noticed my feet. They had slipped off the footrest and were positioned IN the exit opening. I was horrified to see the ramp make its final decent where the top end of the ramp locks snuggly over the van floor. By this time, my shoe toes were being squeezed under the metal ramp. It’s as scared as I’ve been. Of course, I couldn’t feel my toes, and I envisioned crushed bones. I just knew once I got upstairs and removed my shoes, there would be blood pooled inside and I’d have toes that would need immediate attention by highly trained medical staff. While still in the car, I had automatically yelled to stop the ramp’s descent but pushing that button by my husband, of course, couldn’t do a thing to stop it. Using self-talk, calmly as I could, I headed upstairs, noting and thankful I wasn’t leaving a trail of blood. Ok, maybe only the ends of my toes had been damaged. Once I got upstairs, I could have cried with relief. You should know that the shoes SCI people buy need to be half to a full size larger than before. The shoes I was wearing (purchased post-accident) were large enough that the rounded, rubber ends that had been crushed only held open space, not my toes! Well, that’s a rushing mistake I’ll never make again. I now leave ample room between my feet and the ramp that will be lowered and always glance down for a visual on my feet.
  • Some wastes, thankfully, aren’t quite that dramatic, just frustrating. Thanks again to the SCI, my digestive system is a bit touchy. I’ve learned that my most reliable yet delicious breakfast is a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. My dear husband, who does the lion’s share of grocery shopping, happened on a 3-minute “quick” variety that I could cook in the microwave. I bought a safe microwave dish for this. By safe, read: light weight, large enough to prevent boil-overs, handles, lid that ‘locks’, and vents for safely draining. My sisters had helped me reorganize the kitchen so the items I need are low and within arms’ reach. Ok, picture me rolling to get out all the needed utensils and ingredients. When I went to grab the (heavy) oatmeal box, I lifted it but not slowly and carefully enough. (Haste) It slipped from my outstretched right fingers and thudded to the floor. Pause. (Waste) Can you picture the next step? Of course, the cover is off, lying next to an overturned cylindrical oatmeal box, with dry, lightweight, granular oatmeal in a heap. Ok, now think what you’d do. Pause. Nope, I can’t go get a broom and dustpan. Nope, I can’t drop to the floor to scoop up what’s there. Nope, I can’t go grab a vacuum. My only recourse was to get out the wastebasket, a piece of stiff cardboard, a spoon, and a small flat-edge device. Let’s just say that the cleanup was a slow process with many repeated moves. The worst part is that I didn’t do this once, but twice. Argh! These days I am REALLY cautious to get a firm grip on that oatmeal box.
  • The worst was the time that I got up during the night to use the bathroom. Upon careful reflection, there are three steps I might have short-circuited; I’m just not sure. Bottom line, it was dark and I had a controlled fall from the height of 24” (bed and wheelchair seat height). I was holding my transfer board and the far wheelchair arm as I transferred and felt myself go down to the floor. I broke my femur but it took 4 days to realize something was wrong and a week to realize there was a broken bone that needed treatment. I’ve been transferring for a couple years so it shouldn’t have been a problem. But, once again, any action not extremely cautiously executed can be dangerous. Haste makes waste.
  • Driving: I’m beginning to feel like the hand control for acceleration and braking is becoming automatic. Thankfully. But, the wheelchair I carefully position to get ONTO the driver’s seat MUST be in the same position at my destination in order for me to get OUT of the drivers’ seat. Any quick acceleration, sharp turn, or very firm braking can tip the chair backwards or shuffle it out of position. I’ve found that if I leave the transfer board on the wheelchair, it can slip off the chair or exacerbate the chair’s movement. So, another step – sliding the transfer board into the magazine pouch built into the back of the passenger seat. I also need to securely lock both wheels to help keep the chair in place. Guess how I learned I needed the extra step of sliding the board into the seatback pouch? On occasion I also forgot to lock BOTH wheels. Thankfully in both situations, there were people at my destination that I could call out to for some help once the ramp was lowered. Any haste in the steps makes waste.
  • There are countless times I have tried to open a door, drawer, appliance, or go through a doorway without making all the adjustments and checks before that move. Bang. Think of a three-point turn in your car. A three-point adjustment to my positioning would be ‘short.’ In order to get close to a wall or cabinet, I roll forward and back repeatedly in short, narrow, angled adjustments to get close enough to minimize damage from banging, scratching, or gouging surfaces.

So, the haste makes waste adage from my Dad is a daily reminder to just plain accept the extended time I need for everyday tasks. I’m thankful that I CAN make these adjustments in my own wheelchair and have good use of hands and arms to help maintain the independence I do enjoy. Appreciate your own blessings of mobility.

Shalom, Collenes

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I Only Wish It Were Fiction

Sometimes people doubt that what they read in fiction could be true. Who would really do that? I only wish the following were not true. Unfortunately, they are.

My husband and I decided to go to the Coast Guard Festival but went the opening morning even though the real action and fun occurs weekends. Experience taught us the scarcity of parking spots for a handicapped [H] vehicle, especially one designed for vans which provide space to lower the wheelchair ramp. Obviously, any town with a Coast Guard Festival is on the water and already very popular.

We arrived and immediately went to the parking area set aside for [H] vehicles near the channel. Nope, that section was closed and instead held enough proverbial junk food trailers to keep several dentists in business. Everyone needs an “elephant ear” sugar-laden pastry at a festival, right? The alternate [H] parking area was not indicated in any way we noticed. However, we knew of out-of-the way, overflow parking tucked between the state park camping and the channel. We were delighted to find a [H] spot and it even had the slashed line section for vans. Our lucky day!

After enjoying a taste of the festival (not literally), we headed back to our van. Here is where it got interesting. A car with a [H] hangtag was parked next to our car but it was parked half in their spot and half on the slashed space. (Infraction) Luckily we were in angled parking so we hoped our lowered ramp, at this angle, could avoid their front bumper. My husband and I came around the back of our car, him holding out his fob about to push it and lower the ramp and me rolling up. Oops, in the slashed space that remained, the car occupants had set out their lawn chairs and were watching the boats going through the channel. They could have set their chairs on the sidewalk in front of their car but chose not to do that. (Rudeness) As they saw us, the woman asked if she should move. (Duh) We thanked her. Her husband stayed planted on his chair. The ramp was lowered, barely missing Mr. Rude, and I maneuvered my way back and forth so I could manage to position my chair to get up the ramp while avoiding damaging their vehicle. “You know,” I bravely and cautiously commented, “you really shouldn’t be parked on the slashed lines. That’s for ramps.” “Oh,” quipped Ms Rude, “it’s hard for my husband to park.” I bit my tongue and refrained from saying, “Well, it’s hard for us to lower the ramp without hitting your vehicle, leaving a crease in the metal, or rolling around the end of the ramp without gouging your car.” Sometimes it’s better to take the high road.

If only that were the only incident.

It takes arriving early and often driving around to find a [H] spot designed for a van. We appropriately park next to the slashed lines either straight in or backed in, dependent on which side the extra, slashed space is. Imagine our surprise and consternation to return to our van, not once but twice (!!), to find another car sandwiched between the two legally parked cars, right on top of the boldly, slashed lines! The first time we saw this we were stunned! My husband backed the car out into the drive area blocking traffic where we could, as quickly as possible, lower the ramp and get in. The second time, we were fed up and prepared. I now have the local police number programmed in my phone. I called the dispatcher to report the situation. She said a squad car would be there within 20 minutes. As promised, the car arrived in about 18 minutes; blocked traffic in the busy parking lot; prepared to write the ticket for the offending car; and said we could safely pull out, load up, and leave. Thankfully, my husband could drive. If it had been only me, even with the offending car ticketed, I would have had to wait for the offensive driver to return. On both cases, the car was so tightly parked that I can’t imagine how the driver or passenger could squeeze out. Having it towed would have been the other option. (More expensive) If the rude people had just arrived and were doing some shopping and dining over a lovely meal in this quaint mall, I would have been at their mercy. This was a repurposed, fishing cannery. It had obviously been grandfathered and had not upgraded their restrooms to ADA requirements. The stall in the mall bathroom marked ‘handicapped’ would not even allow my wheelchair to enter, let alone have the door close. Yes, I reported that to the manager of one of their restaurants. Yes, he had heard the complaint before and would pass it along -again- to the establishment management.

What can be done?

  • I believe we all need to advocate for what is right.
  • Don’t park in a marked handicap spot unless you have documented and current accessibility needs.
  • Even if you do have a tag to hang on rear-view mirror or permanent [H] license plate, use van-marked spots ONLY if you need one or it is the only spot left.
  • Call police if you see offenders. The police need to see the car incorrectly parked. A photo of the car, its license plate, and the sign are not enough.
  • Never use a tag unless it was given to you by a doctor and then for only as long as it is needed. Never share it with others. It is abuse; it is illegal.
  • It is illegal to misuse handicapped spots. Penalties range by state but are up to $1,250, 6 months in jail, and 50 hours of community service.

Hats off to Texas where Park Houston trains volunteers to monitor and write tickets for those who abuse handicap parking spots.http://www.houstontx.gov/parking/volunteer.htm

Count your blessings. Shalom, may all be well with you. Collene

9/11/01 ~ 15 Years and Counting

Where were you when you first heard, then watched a plane crash into one of the twin towers of the NY World Trade Center? Each of you reading this will be able to quickly bring back the place, people, surroundings, feelings, conversations, uncertainties, immediate thoughts of the safety of personal loved ones, horrific images, … and, the rest of the day as well. This is a time for each to remember personal experiences and implications – not those of mine. … … … … Vivid and poignant, aren’t they?

It is hard to think such vivid memories are from15 years ago. Aren’t there things you wish our country had done differently since then? Aren’t there things you wish our world had done differently since then? Aren’t there things you wish you had done differently since then? I do! None of that can change. We can only impact the future. The Iroquois Nation said, “In every deliberation we must consider the impact on the seventh generation…even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.” I believe that is wise advice. In order to do that, we must study, think on, and then teach our family and share with our friends the “true north” in our lives, what we believe, what we trust, and what we value. May it be for Good and not for harm.

This morning I received a message from Cheri Lovre, the well-known and respected expert from The Crisis Management Institute, who helped me and many school leader friends deal with school crisis situations like suicide and the Amish school shooting personally, to the Columbine school shooting on a more national scale. Cheri closed her note with the following:

“I would hope for all of you that you find time for reflection on the preciousness of every moment, the treasure it is that we have for those who love us and those to love, and the opportunity for each of us to continue to strive to make a difference by bringing more than tolerance…by inspiring love in all corners of our world…or in the words of my favorite prayer, ‘to rise above the differences and distinctions which divide us…’

 “May we all bring the light of hope to those around us, most especially to the children and youth in the hallways of our schools. Never underestimate the encouragement you bring to students’ lives by your loving presence. Live is fragile. Fill it with goodness!”

Watch for your blessings – and be sure you are a blessing to those around you.

Shalom, Collene

♪ On the Boat Again ♬

CVN Moving up mast

Well, actually if I were on THE boat, it would be our beloved, beautiful sailboat, Mariah. Technically this should be entitled On A Boat Again but that doesn’t fit as well with the song in my head (On the Road Again). This week I was able to get on our plan B boat, an open cockpit powerboat which has ample, flat floor space for my wheelchair. It was indeed a red-letter day. Watching water is beautiful but being on the water evokes fresh smells, feelings of rolling gently, sounds of others playing on the water, and a sense of freshness on ones skin.

This could fit as the third in a trilogy of blogs on creative problem solving for a richer life.

The picture above was of me, prior to the accident, of course. When someone needed to go to the top of our approximately 40’ mast to change a light bulb, visually check on things, or retape the spreader boots, I volunteered. I was lighter and Alan was stronger. Besides, the view from up there is breath taking. For the ride up, I sat in our bosun’s chair, an incredibly strong seat made of heavy-duty fabric, strong webbing strategically placed, and indestructible metal rings. The large ring clipped to the main (sail) halyard. Another safety feature we used on Mariah was a Garhauer lifting davit engine hoist to move the outboard 5-horse motor from the bracket on the back stanchion to the transom of the dinghy, bobbing in the water, without dropping it or wrecking Alan’s back. It is a stainless steel upright bar topped with a second bar at about a 120˚ angle. Attached is a 6:1 block and tackle pulley system to significantly lighten the lifting workload and a heavy-duty clamp to securely hold the cargo. With me as cargo seated in the bosun’s chair, the engine hoist could lift me. One of my creative brother-in-laws designed and made a flat backed bracket with a 1” rod welded on to attach to the dock bollard (pole) to provide an upright rod like the stanchion on Mariah’s stern.

With the davit hoist securely attached to the special bracket on that dock bollard so it could pivot, Alan utilized the motor hoist to raise me off my wheelchair seat. Alan’s sister & brother-in-law lifted my empty wheelchair into the boat and then helped position me above my wheelchair. At that point, Alan lowered me with the hoist onto my wheelchair seat. We took extra precautions. I wore a life jacket even before rolling onto to the dock. I hung over the dock, not the water, while the wheelchair was transferred into position on the boat. This brother-in-law and sister are the ones we bought this boat from so if anything went wrong with me on the boat, Alan had a back-up, experienced captain.

Plan B Lowering boat

Our kind neighbors noticed I was on the boat as we returned to the slip, and he thoughtfully came out to catch the momentous event with his camera. It was great to be back on the water. We can now boat together again! I think my worst day after the accident was the fall day Alan went to prep Mariah for winter. After 40 years of working on our sailboat together, I was home crying while he worked alone. After 40+ years of sailing, we are together on a boat again.

Watch for your blessings.Shalom, Collene

How to Win …

Instead of me writing this blog, I’m sharing a blog written about me. It is from BraunAbility’s website. To read it, click the title (italics) immediately below.

How to Win the NMEDA Local Heroes Contest

Creative Problem Solving

DinnerThis blog will seem more casual and certainly not serious. I feel like I’m a 12 year old telling someone what I just accomplished. It is at the urging of a friend who said, “Those who have been following you will want to know what you’ve done,” that convinced me to write this.

Our current life is about problem solving, some solutions working out better than others. Some ideas work well, others not so much. But, bit-by-bit we’ve borrowed or created ideas that make life a bit simpler. I think often about the years of coaching OM (Odyssey of the Mind). A friend and I coached our children and others from our local elementary several years in this awesome, creative, problem-solving competition. OM includes spontaneous (name as many things as you can that are red and round) as well as long-term (multiple months) problems, and over time the students became amazingly adept at problem solving. Adults could not help so the students, not the adults, would develop their skills.

Alan has been a bit like the OM coaches in encouraging me to do whatever I possibly could. What I can’t do (yet), he graciously does. Things that have remained pretty much in his domain are hot stove and oven tasks. The danger risks are too great for me in my wheelchair. Anything cooking on the stove is above what I can see. Moving in a wheelchair involves two hands at all times or the only place one goes is in circles. There is no way I would put a hot pan on my lap. Well, this week I made the entire dinner which involved two very hot stovetop dishes. Shrimp scampi, angel hair pasta, green beans, and fresh fruit. Not one ounce of help. 😉

After seeing a unique dresser/desk configuration in a friend’s condo, I noticed that our counter stovetop had a drawer face just below the stovetop. I was convinced there was dead space behind it so when our remodel wizard was here one day, he checked it out, verified that the drawer face could be removed, found some long, smooth sliding supports, built a shelf, and installed a hidden 22”x25” shelf which is at a convenient height for me in my chair. I can work on it once it’s pulled out from any of three sides. Our kitchen is galley style and not large. I discovered some and predicted other things; therefore, concluding this meal could work.

  • If I put a heat trivet on the pull out workspace, I can lift a small or medium size pan off the burner and onto the trivet to check on cooking progress.
  • Salted water can be brought to a boil, (check once sauce pan is on the pull out shelf, trivet), broken pasta can be added, lid can be replaced, and it will continue to cook on the burner which has been turned off.
  • Marinated shrimp will cook quickly, and I just needed to add a couple ingredients to complete necessary flavoring. Again, I could move the hot, sauté pan to the trivet to monitor cooking.
  • By having the shelf pulled out all the way, I could position my wheelchair sideways between that shelf and our sink. After positioning a stable colander in the sink, I could reach the saucepan (water no longer boiling) from the shelf and empty it into the colander in one fluid movement, where it could drain. No need to rest pan or colander on my lap.

Lightweight, microwave dishes with handles and vents have long made microwave cooking safe for me. Fruit, well, that is more delicious eaten fresh. Not only was the cooking of the meal successful, it tasted delicious. This might not seem earth shaking but it sure brought a smile to my face. Enjoy the fun and whimsical things in life. Watch for your blessings.

Shalom, Collene

NMEDA Vehicle Giveaway Coming Again (April-June)

It is time again for anyone in N. America who has a mobility challenge or has a friend living in a wheelchair to consider what the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Assoc. (NMEDA) is offering. (www.nmeda.com, http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com) The contest recognizes those of us with these monumental challenges a way to ease, at least this part of, our lives. If you or your friend has a handicap which stops her or him from easily getting around but yet has continued to give back, to persevere, to remain positive, to help others, to advocate for SCI, to … (the list goes on), he or she may be recognized as a Local Hero. Read below. It is easy to think, ‘no one ever wins those’ but I’m living proof that the NMEDA group is legitimate and does indeed donate the vehicles to local heroes. I’m one of those! If you choose to enter, my hint is to write your story about how you give back and contribute. Do not tell why you need the vehicle; everyone in our situation needs the vehicle. I have met the NMEDA folks and representatives from the donating companies who provide the vehicles and adaptive equipment. They are amazingly giving, caring, creative, and empathetic people. I’ve met four of the other Local Heroes, and I am awed by what they continue to do. If anyone needs to know more, feel free to leave a message in the comment section and a way in which I can contact you. I promise I will. I wish you well. Watch for blessings coming your way.

CLOCK MOBILITY JOINS NMEDA IN FIFTH ANNUAL NATIONAL MOBILITY AWARENESS MONTH CAMPAIGN
You are likely aware of the mobility challenges millions of people with disabilities face every single day. Here at Clock Mobility, we are participating in a national campaign championed by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association to call attention to this important issue. Our goal is to broaden awareness of transportation options for individuals who are dealing with a disability that would otherwise prevent them from achieving the freedom and independence they long for, and we’re seeking your support.
As part of the goal, we are proud to announce the fifth annual National Mobility Awareness Month. Occurring every May, the central focus of the effort is an online Local Heroes contest providing those with disabilities and their caregivers with an opportunity to tell their story of triumph over their disabilities through academic and career ambitions, as well as their family and local community contributions. By visiting MobilityAwarenessMonth.com, individual’s stories may be voted on and concludes with awarding the winners with wheelchair accessible vans. Program sponsors will customize each vehicle to suit the winner’s specific needs.
For the awareness month to be a success, it must be a cumulative effort. Last year in its fourth year, the program welcomed more than 900 Local Heroes entries and over 1.3 million votes were cast. Four amazing Local Heroes received new wheelchair accessible vans. So, this year we are seeking your help to spread the word about National Mobility Awareness Month to help cultivate another successful year. Together, we can inform our local community about the campaign and empower others to get involved with these life changing automotive mobility solutions.
We thank you in advance for your participation and look forward to working with you. Be sure to ask us for the code and to fill out a quality needs assessment for extra points. If you have any questions, please contact us at 800-732-5625.
Respectfully,
Kadi DeHaan
Marketing Manager
Clock Mobility

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