Monday, November 5, 2012

My Wheels

Lately, I've been thinking about transportation.  I'm trying to get excited about the discovery of  exoplanets around Alpha Centauri, especially when one is so close to being the same size as planet Earth.  I just can't feel the excitement.  My mind is spent on transportation.  As well it should be. 

I can't get excited about exo planets.  The latest discovery, around Alpha Centauri, is the nearest  exoplanet discovered yet that is Earth size.  Scientists get excited because Alpha Centauri is a mere 4 light years away.  Using current rocket technology, there is absolutely no possibility we will ever reach that star system.

My current musings on transportation are little more selfish.  Spending most of my time awake in an electric wheelchair, I do think oten about the limitations of this lifestyle.  I have family members whose homes are not yet wheelchair accessible.  There are no friends that can take me anywhere, unless they happen to have a wheelchair accessible van.  In recent times, the paratransit service called outreach has denied me access to their service, because I live too close to a bus stop, have access to a power wheelchair.

This denial caused me a slight bit of stress.  I wondered, what would happen if my chair broke down out in the middle of town, with no way to get home.  Outreach does not want to answer that question.  So anyway,Friday  I decided to go down to Denny's for a coffee, and meet with some friends at a morning meeting, and no sooner did I leave my apartment complex that my wheelchair dropped into a small hole, jarred the system, making it power down completely.  I stared at my console dumbfounded.

Why, just a week ago, my mother and I met as a medical supply store to look at wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs.  I had wanted to buy a manual wheelchair for quite a while, realizing that I can go anywhere night unless it's on a specific bus route they can get me home at a reasonable hour.  The wheelchair we wanted was not in stock, so we had to backorder it.  I jokingly said, I don't want to wait; I want it now.  Indeed, why would I need to have a manual wheelchair immediately?  I have gone this long without it.

The benefits of having a manual wheelchair are enormous.  I can get more exercise on a day-to-day basis.  My friends can take me anywhere I want, without my having to pay a service to take me home.  The possibility of burning extra calories is very encouraging, and I'd always have a reserve in the unlikely event that my power chair should become unusable.

So, along comes Friday.  Without a cloud in the sky, everything looked hopeful.  All I wanted was to be my friends, and then find my way over to Sacred Heart community center to do some volunteer work.  It wasn't meant to happen.  (Notice to reader: that last sentence was purely for dramatic affect.  I am not a fatalist, and do not subscribe to superstitious thinking).  When I hit that bump, and my chair powered down, I felt a small sense of dread.  But, I've always been inclined towards problem solving.  I spotted a couple guys and each was able to help me in some small way towards pushing me back to my apartment.

The maintenance guy at my apartment pushed me to my desk.  I thanked him and sent him on his way.  What a difference a week makes.  Isn't it slightly ironic that in the day following this incident, my mother would call me to tell me that my new wheelchair would be coming in a week?  How funny it is to think that this one weeks wait would occur at this time.  Still, sitting at my desk, I started calling the people I needed to call.  I immediately called the people that do my wheelchair repairs, and asked them if they do emergency repair work.

The woman on the phone was very helpful.  She understood immediately how poor the situation was for me, and told me that she needed to make a few phone calls to find out if she could get a technician over to help me.  I want to emphasize that I did tell her my power chair does not work, that I cannot walk, and am unable to leave my desk.  While reviewing my contact information, she asked me if I would be at this phone number all day.  Knowing what I told her, all I could do was laugh.

She asked me what phone number would be best to reach me, and told me that she would probably call you within the next 5 min.  In less than 90 min. after the initial problem, a technician I know well was here at my apartment, and quickly was able to fix a loose connection, making my chair functional yet once again.

Thank you for reading.

1 comment:

Santa Cruz Nick said...

The manual wheelchair is a great idea, the exercise will be good for you. :)
Glad you got your wheels going again, and the picture is cool, looks like you're popping a wheelie!