Friday, June 11, 2010

Update 6/10/2010: Birthday Meals, Mercury Resurrection, Wheelchair Troubleshoot

Monday June 7 was my 55th birthday.  What is the worst thing about turning 55?  When I do an online survey or otherwise fill out any form on the internet, there is usually a check-off category 45-54 and then one for 55-64 or -- even worse, and more often 55 or more.  I hate this!! Not only do we "55 or more" oldies get disqualified for more surveys, but just the thought of being in a category with people over 75 and even over 100?  My dad is 82 and he is a totally different generation, and there is a world of difference between baby-boomers [who can now be as old as 64] and World War II veterans and children of the Great Depression, is ludicrous [and I don't mean the rapper!]!! See? my last parenthetical statement can be understood marginally by someone my age [55], but anyone over 70 would say "huh?".  And anyone over 80 would say "what's a 'rapper' -- someone who knocks on doors?"  I rest my case.

So, on Saturday before my birthday, I went to lunch with my friends Judy and Louise to Thai Pot   in Forest Hills.  Then Judy gave me the second part of my birthday present: she accompanied me to Trader Joe so I could do some healthy food shopping.  One of my best purchases was a box of red quinoa, which my aide Cheryl cooked up for me [it is cooked like rice or couscous] and it provides a complete protein.  If you are a vegetarian, this is a great food, because in order to make a complete protein out of rice, you have to add beans, which are fattening and socially challenging [although the product Beano® is a life-saver].

On Sunday, the day before my birthday, my dad treated me and my aide, and the whole family -- my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephew and two nieces -- to dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Queens Place/Target Mall.  I have to say that this Outback is really beautiful and not crazy-busy like other Outbacks.  This surprised me because the mall is loaded with people, but I think they tend to frequent the Red Lobster in the same mall.

I had fish, because I no longer eat red meat or poultry, and I was surprised how well a restaurant that is famous for ribs and steaks, did fish.  And the salad is the dream of anyone with chewing and/or swallowing issues -- everything is finely chopped!!  YAY!! When they brought out the chicken wing appetizers, I ate the celery dipped in blue cheese dressing -- I'm so good......haha!!

My Mercury communication device suddenly died on Friday when the screen went  .  I emailed the rep from Tobii [formerly ATI] and he said he would come by on Monday to check it out.  In the meantime, I went through an entire weekend writing on my board at my two birthday meals, and struggling with bad speech and my own special sign language with my aides.  Antoinette from ALSA graciously sent a loaner through UPS to arrive Monday morning.

Suddenly, after going to bed on Sunday night, I was awakened very early Monday morning -- about 3am, to the familiar tune of my Mercury shutting down, I figured it was a part of one of my weird dreams< and went back to sleep.  In the morning, I plugged it in again, pushed the "on" button and it went on, as if the last three days had never happened.  I emailed the company rep, but he never checked his email and came anyway.  When I repeated the story about what happened, he said "if it happens again, just remove the battery, disconnect any cords, and push the 'on' button for at least 20 seconds."  If I'd only known that when this first happened, my weekend would have been a whole lot easier.  Oh well......

After a recent event with a wheelchair glitch, I decided I would put together a short "troubleshooting" guide for wheelchair users and caregivers and companions, who may encounter a stalled wheelchair. Of course, this only applies to motorized wheelchairs.  Manual folding transfer chairs would not have this problem, of course.

1]  Don't panic. Relax.  Tell other people who may be around, and will be inconvenienced by the stalled wheelchair, that the situation is under control, and you will get moving in a few minutes or less.   It is no different from a stalled car, especially with everyone around you blasting their car horns. But understand that wheelchairs and people with disabilities just make people more uncomfortable, helpless and, in some cases, reduce intelligent rational adults to hysterical panic. Once you calm everybody down, proceed.

2]  Stop anyone from trying to push the wheelchair.  They can make the situation worse by knocking loose a wire connection or inadvertently moving any of the sensitive controls. You would have to be a super-hero to be able to push a stalled motorized wheelchair, especially with a person sitting in it.  My own weighs 382 pounds, and with my own weight [which I will not reveal], it weighs -- well -- more than 400 pounds.

3]  Many wheelchairs will not move if in tilt, the seat-back is reclined, and/or the seat is elevated. Make sure the chair and the seat-back are in the upright position, and the seat is down.  Then turn off and start again.

4]  If that isn't the problem,  it could be that the lever on one or both wheels might have been jarred from the "drive" position to the "manual" or "push" position. This may happen if someone tries to push the wheelchair.  In the latter position, the wheelchair will not go.  Try to get someone to check those levers and make sure they are in "drive".  Turn off and turn back on and see if it goes.

5]  The next thing to check are any cord connections.  Again, these can be jarred if someone has tried to push the wheelchair from the back.  Turn off the wheelchair and have someone check the connections and push any loose ones into place.  Then turn on the wheelchair and see if it starts then.

6]  If none of these work, you will have to put the wheelchair in "manual" or "push" mode and have someone push you out of the way, and probably push you onto the bus going home.  As a last resort, check your battery display.  Did you forget to charge the wheelchair and now the battery is dead? You will still have to get home. Although you don't need super-powers to push the wheelchair in manual, the "pusher" needs to have some strength because it is not easy.

Anyway, if anyone has any other trouble-shooting ideas, let me know.

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