-- In His Strength: June 2008 www.superfluousbanter.org

In His Strength

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength --- Philippians 4:13

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Powerchair Demo II :Sweet Ride


This one is sweet! I have watched this video now at least five times! Check it out here
This is the chair that I am trying out now. My favorite over the previous powerchair that I was able to demo for a few weeks and even over another one I am possibly going to demo (that I tried out for a day) in another few weeks. I can't raise this one to reach the high shelves but I would be able to get around more places with this one than say a manual chair or other powerchair perhaps.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hospital Volunteer

So as of today I am officially a Community Hospital volunteer. It was rather interesting how it all got started. A few months ago I went to a career fair at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Missoula. Before the fair, I went to the mt.gov site to research all of the different places that were going to be there. I found nothing of interest as far as paid positions go, however, something (I am convinced it was a God thing) made me click on Community Hospital. Low and behold, the one thing I find there is for pet therapy. "Why, we can do that!"
While at the career fair, I came across the Community Hospital booth and spoke with a representative. "Why, we'd love to have You!" was the response I got. I was given a business card of the woman I was to cantact, the head of volunteer services.
To bring Alehe to the hospital and be just in the day room would have been no problem. But I thought it would be more special for the patients if we visited them in their rooms. To do that I would have to go through certification training for therapy dogs - liability reasons.
I was tired of sitting around and not finding things to do NOW, I just wanted something to happen. The training wasnt for another month or so. Between CCI, CMC and the therapy dog place, figured out that we are covered undedr CCI's liability insurance. Everything was a go.
I showed up at Community Medical Center at eleven a.m. to "shadow" or go along with another therapy dog team to see what it's all about. Visited Rehab patients for about an hour. One older gentleman reminded me of sitting with my grandpa as a kid listening to his stories of his younger days. As I sat there and listened, a voice in my head was telling me what good I was doign just sitting and litening to them talk.
At times. Alehe would just sit and wtch the other dog while he interacted with teh patients while sitting in their beds or a wheelchair. She didn't seem too sure of herself, but then again this was a new experience for her. I really tried to encourage/coax her to interact with the patients. The woman I was with told me that as she watches the other dog, and the more she does this, the easier it will become for her. Meanwhile I was to keep encouraging her, praising her. A good learning experience for the both of us.
I was issued an ID badge with my picture, my name, and Community Medical Center - just like the ones that the doctors and nurses wear. I feel so important! I don't think I took that thing off all day. Even until I went to bed last night! LOL!!!

Boy was I exhausted!

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Friday, June 13, 2008

"Hey Mom, I found a Cheap Way to Remodel the House!"

",...just stick me in a powerchair!"

This is one of the first comments I made to my mother when we talked on the phone shortly after deciding to give a powerchair a try.

A year and a half ago, it was decided that it was time to do something about the way I sat in my current wheelchair. Primarily for the adema (swelling) in my legs, which started shortly after I broke my left leg while making my bed. But even so for the amount of time I spend sitting in the chair

Referalls were made to an occupational therapist that could help me with the seating system in my current wheelchair. We first tried a "foam in place", which is conformed to the shape of my back. It was just okay, not great. A few weeks and we decided it was best for me to go to Colorado where they have a center that specializes in the Aspen Seating System, a lot like the foam in place but should work much better. It would be conformed to the shape of my back when I sit in my chair and thus be more comfortable. the problem was fighting with Medicaid to get them to cover me for the flight AND the Aspen seating. It took THREE times to get Medicaid (my insurance) to cover it, and then finally when we get it covered...they come out with the system here in Montana. What timing! No more having to fly to Colorado (rats, Mom and I wanted a vacation!)

The seating system was easy to do, but pretty messy. It consisted of tiny foam beads placed in a large (and I mean LARGE) sealed bag, then all the air sucked out of it by some machine while it is positioned behind my back. The air coming out would force the beads to stick together and conform to the shape of my back. the first time was a bit messy as something had punctured a hole in the bag which resulted in foam beads all over the living room floor. Break out the vacuum cleaner!

This seating system was all fine and dandy, however, when they tilted me back it fit by back perfectly. Now when I am seated in the manual chair, I don't touch it.

We had also discussed my using a powerchair. An option we discussed on the powerchair is I could raise the feet so that they are somewhat elevated, and I could tilt back at an angle and relieve pressure off my backside (less possibiity of me getting pressure sores as I sit in my w/chair all day). The first few times I tilted the wheelchair back, my survival instincts kicked in. I felt as though I was going to tip OVER backwards, so I wanted to counterbalance. but I was assured this could not happen. Now it is easy to let myself relax.

Here are pros and cons that I came up with regarding my using a power chair:

The model I will have will have the option of raising my feet to aleviate the adema problem
I will also be able to tilt and releive the pressure off my bum, No more excuse to being too tired to go anywhere. I an get ou of the house even if I don't fell like it
I can carry things in one hand and still maneuver
The model I will have (as I have decided from the demo) will have an option for me to raise the seat so that I can reach some high places (no more leaving dishes on the counter for others to put away
Mom reminded me that I will be able to use the stovetop! Whohoo! more meal options for myself!!! (I'm tired of the microwave)
I can even put stuff in the crockpot
No one pushing my wheelchair without asking
I no longer can make the excuse "I'm too tired" when I have an option of doing something.

I wouldnt be able to play tennis if I used a power chair fulltime
I wouldnt be able to venture downstairs if I wanted to
If the battery dies...I'm stuck
No more Alehe pulling my chair for me, just one of the biggest reasons for having her. And I have a feeling she really enjoys the work
Riding in other peoples cars if the need arises would be impossible, unless they came up with a lighter more compact model. Haha, yeah right. Like that's ever possible.
The size of my house

I say this last one because of the minor damage I have done, primarily to the doorways in my bedroom and bathroom. Both have gigantic scrapes where I rubbed part of the chair against the doors. The doorframe to my bathroom even has two very tiny holes where I ran the footplate into the wood. My knees even have bruises where I ran into the kitchen table a few times.

Using the powerchair outdoors is rather interesting. For the first week, indoors or outdoors I would not go faster than the first of five speeds this chair can go. By the third or fourth week, I was cranking the baby ALL THE WAY!!! Well, that was until I came near sailing off of the edge of a curb when on the sidewalk. I even managed to get myself swallowed by a group of bushes near the University campus. I'm glad no one was around to witness THAT now!

At the beginning when we were first inquiring about the powerchair thing, someone made the mistake of calling it an electric chair. My OT immediately shot back, "It's NOT an electric chair, it's a POWER chair. Electric chairs KILL people!" Now anytime I hear electric chair...I correct them with the same comment.

Poor Alehe doesn't know what to think. The first few days and I think I got her foot twice. Now she walks a little farther away than she used to. I'm surprised I haven't strangled her with the leash yet, as I have at times gone a bit faster than she can keep up, oops.

The other day I went to Norco where I was to demo two other powerchairs. I managed to wheel on the grass quite well, something i was earlier afraid to do (ever since breaking my leg when falling out of my chair, I havent been as brave about things). One chair I tried was a beautiful deep blue (blue being my favorite color) and yet another was a forest green (another cool color).

I'll try and get pictures of me in either chair up on flickr sometime.

In the meantime, anyone wanna challenge me to a race?!?!?!?!
Haha, just kidding!

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