PAL

April 28, 2007

The swimming pool is open!

Filed under: Atlanta, Disability, Health, Life, US, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 8:48 pm

poolI found out yesterday that the building’s swimming pool is open again!  Yay!  I use to love swimming, but I’m not sure if I can anymore.  When Julian comes back I’ll find out.  I’m not sure if I cna actually lift my head out of the water to breathe (which wouldn’t be good at all), but I guess I would be able to float, and I can move my arms so I suppose I could swim. 

I’m hoping I can because it gets so hot here!  I heard on th news that this summer we can expect some days to go up to 100°F (37.78°C)!  When you can’t sweat below your shoulders you don’t tolerate heat very well at all!  I’m really not looking forward to the heat this summer.

You may notice the stairs in the photo, there is another way to get to the pool.  There is a gate on that level, but you have to go back through the building and down a floor to get to it.  The stairs lead to the sun deck where there is a tennis court, bbq, lounge chairs, a gazebo and things.  Here is a photo of that part. 

sun deck

I would like to try playing tennis too.  I did a bit when I was younger.  We found some tennis balls with bells in them at Petsmart, but I’m not sure how well they would work.  I think a beeping tennis ball would be better.  We were also looking at tennis rackets at Sports Authority.  We found a couple that I might be able to use if I attached them to my hand.  This reminds me I should go down to the games room and play some pool.  I’ve lived here for five months so far and I haven’t been down there since before we moved in!

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April 27, 2007

Stone Mountain Park

Filed under: Accessibility, Atlanta, Disability, Life, Reviews, US, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 4:30 pm

stoneOn Sunday, April 22nd we went to Stone Mountain Park.  We packed a lunch in a cooler and were on our way.  The drive was about 40 minutes long, and it was a really hot day.  When we got there we found a disabled parking space near the entrance and got everything ready for the day. 

We didn’t have a long wait at all in the line at the entrence, and once we got our tickets and bracelets for the park we decided to take a ride on the train.  It has a lot of open cars with seats for passengers and it goes around the the mountain.  We had to wait for about 20 minutes before the next train came, so we waited in the shade by some benches.  Once the train came we were told to go through the exit.  Of course this meant going against the flow of people getting off the train, but once we were halfway to the train we figured out why.  The width of the space where people entered the train platform was just way too narrow for a wheelchair.  After waiting for some people to come down the ramp and the exit we waited at the very last car of the train.  This one had a wheelchair lift!  The guy who worked on the train was very good and chatted as he operated the lift.  Sophie likes riding them, maybe it’s because for once she is the height of a person and can see a lot more! 

There was a lot of space for wheelchair users in the back of this car and a bench for anyone who went with them so they wouldn’t have to be split up.  I noticed that there was spaces on the floor for tie downs, but they weren’t used.  It’s not like they needed to be.  The train rattled and rumbled a lot over the tracks, but it was suprisingly smooth when starting and stopping!  The train stopped for a bit of a show called “Dueling Wagons”, and there was a recording about the history of the trains and music.  We also stopped at another station where you could get off and hike the trails on the mountian.  I decided not to do this, but if I had a One-Off handcycle I would have totally did it!  (You can click on the link to watch a video of these handcycles in action).  When we got back to the main station Sophie jumped off the wheelchair lift when it touched the ground.  She decided that she didn’t want to wait for the front of the lift to fold down first.  She just stepped over it! 

We went up a hill and sat in front of the carving on the side of the mountain and and ate our lunch.  It said “slight incline” on the map, but believe me, it was a “hill”!  They have lazer light shows there on Saturday nights.  Then we went to the musume.  It was nice and cool inside, and we watched a short 11 minute movie about the carving on the mountain.  The most annoying thing was that when sitting in the wheelchair space the speakers were set up in a way that if you sat on the left side you could only hear the movie in your right ear!  (This kind of sucks slightly when you already can’t see the movie!)  I moved all the way over to the right and it was much better. 

The gift stores were a bit crowded with both shelves and people, but for the most part I could get around and we ended up buying two t-shirts.  Then we deicded to take the Sky Ride up to the top of the mountian.  We went through a very crowded gift store and lined up.  By this time I was in the very early stages of AD (Autonomic Dysreflexia).  The older lady who operated that car was very helpful (a bit overly helpful actually), but still nice.  She got out the ramp and put it accross the gap that was between the platform and car.  It was weird because it was still pretty flat but as I wheeled off of it the metal ramp made a huge noise!  The ride up the mountain was pretty cool, knowing we were dangling hundreds of feet in the air by a cable!  Sophie didn’t mind it at all.  When we got off a young girl had gotten her arm stuck between the railing and window though.  I guess they got her arm out once we were off.  Her father was trying to pull it out and she was crying, but the lady who worked there was trying to get him to calm down and she would do it.  I think he freaked the kid out more than the fact that her arm was caught!

When we got to the top while I was waiting for Julian to come out fo the washroom a security guard who was working there came up to me and asked if I wanted to get out (I’m not a dog!), and after telling her no I was sure I didn’t want to go out and I was just waiting for someone she started talking to someone else.  Julian came out and it was my turn to go to the bathroom.  I had taken my sandles off while we were eating because my feet were swollen and I had to try my best not to let my feet touch the icky bathroom floor!  As I transfered I also realized that the backpack on the back of my wheelchair caused it to tip backwards.  Luckily Sophie had this under control because it was attached to her colar.  On my way out, some pre-teen walked into me after I opened the door.  She just stood there while I was holding the door open and then proceeded to squeeze her way past us.  She has to squeeze between Sophie and the wall to get in because it was a really tight space!  Why didn’t she just back up and wait the extra few seconds it would have taken us to get past?!  I swear I feel so invisible sometimes!  Julian said she was listening to music with earbuds so she obviously wasn’t paying much attention! 

We went outside on a few of the lookout areas.  They were all very hot with the sun blazing down on us.  There was a ramp on two of the three platforms to go out onto the rocks.  When we went out onto the last the same security guard stopped us in the restraunt and was in a bit of a panic telling us that the disabled button to open the d oors was broken.  Julian had to repeat that we knew about three times before she let us go through.  (It was the button for hte doors we used to get inside the building).   This time there was a shady area where we gave Sophie some ice and viewing thing ate Julian’s quarter without actually letting him “view” anything! 

I noticed that while I was on the mountian I was dizzy and it felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen when I was breathing.  I wasn’t to the point of passing out or anything, but I felt like I had to breathe more deeply than I could to get the same amount of air in my lungs as I needed.  We totally skipped the line getting into the Sky ride to go back down the mountain, and on the way down we were right up in front.  Sophie laid on the floor and waited until we reached the bottom.  I wonder if she realized where we were? 

We had planned on going on the river boat, but by then I wasn’t feeling so great with all the heat and things, so we decided to skip that part and come back later.  I waited near some benches while Julian walked to the other parking lot to get the car.  It was slightly amusing when the tram that took people to the river boat showed up and stopped right next to me while he was gone!  I was sitting at the stop for it!  We could have gotten a ride right to it!  They also had an accessible part with a ramp on it.  I thought this was pretty cool.  Apparently the duck rides (vehicles that can drive on land and water) are also accessible, but we didn’t ride them.  Julian came by as the tram was getting ready to leave and we packed up the car and drove around to the camp sites.  We are planning on maybe going camping there this summer because they have accessible sites. 

It’s really nice there.  If your ever around Stone Mountain, you should go check it out.  Overall it’s very accessible! 

April 13, 2007

I’m NOT Richard!

Filed under: Disability, Life, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:19 pm

chairDo people “really” pay attention?  Since moving into this building in December, I’ve been called “Richard” more times than I can count!  This wouldn’t bother me so much if I wasn’t female!  It’s not like I don’t look like a female.  I have long hair, my chest is definatly not flat like a male’s, and I don’t sound like a male. 

The problem is there is a guy who also lives in this building who uses a wheelchair and has a service dog.  So, every time anyone sees me they assume I must be Richard!  Let me point out some differences here:

1.  I am female.  He is male!
2.  I have long hair.  He doesn’t.
3.  I use a manual wheelchair.  He uses a power wheelchair.
4.  I have a female yellow lab. guide dog.  He has a male golden retriever service dog.
5.  My dog is very calm.  His dog will run you down in the hallway it is so hyper!
6.  I sound like a female, and speak clearly.  He sounds like a male and it is very hard to understand him because he has cerebral palsy.hischair

These are just the main differences.  The people who mistake me for him are the people that have obviously known him awhile!  He’s lived here for a long time.  There’s one older lady who always calls me Richard and when I say I’m not she still calls me Richard.  Then she always asks me if I’m new here and welcomes me to the building.  This happens about once every week!

Today in the lobby, I was at the front desk talking to the concierge and another guy came out of the media room and said “I’m here Richard!”.  Now, seeing I was the only person in the lobby besides the concierge, it was obvious he was talking to me!  I turned around and he said “You’re not Richard!”.  Like he had to tell me this so I would know!  (Just like they always do!)  I said no I wasn’t, and he asked the concierge what he should say!  Talk about a blow to my self-esteem!

 This proves one thing.  People see a wheelchair and think it has to be the person they know!  Do they see a blonde and think “hey there’s [insert name here]!”, or someone who is tall and think “oh there’s [insert name]!”?

April 11, 2007

Sportaid does it again!

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, Reviews, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 3:40 pm

backrestHow did my day go today?  Well, I woke up early to a rainy day and waited until Julian called.  We talked for awhile and while he was at the gym I checked my email, watched some tv and checked on the UPS site to track one of the packages I was expecting to receive today while I waited for him to call me back.

Just before 1pm the package was delievered and I went downstairs to get it.  This package was the backrest from Southwest Medical they told me I would get yesterday.  After asking for a tracking number for it yesterday, they sent it to me and it said it was being delievered today.  I was also expecting a cushion and backrest supporst from Sportaid, but they too hadn’t given me a tracking number and after emailing the girl we have been trying to deal with all supportalong, some other girl emailed me back this morning and said that she wasn’t in today and didn’t even give me a tracking number!

So I went downstairs, hoping against all odds that Sportaid didn’t mess things up yet again and actually got the cushion sent to me.  I was suppose to have it 12 days ago!  Sure enough there were two boxes.  The concierge offered to carry the boxes to my apt. for me, but I could manage them myself.  I also met a new guy that had just moved into the building. 

Once I got the boxes into my apt. and opened them I realized that the backrest was the exact one we ordered.  (Thank you Southwest Medical!), but Sportaid had managed to leave off part of the cushion, and they only sent one backrest support!  We had ordered a pair of supports from their website and paid for a pair!  They had ordered 1 support, 1 support pad, and one kit to attach the pair to the backrest!  This is what Sportaid had ordered from Varilite!  Who orders a support for one side with a new backrest?! 

cushionSo now we have to try to get the missing part of the cushion, which is free, but will most likely be charged shipping, and we will have to re-order the supports and hope to God that they actually send them out the fastest way this time like they should have in the beginning!  Hopefully this time in less than the 12 days it took them last time!

April 10, 2007

Still no backrest!

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, Reviews, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 4:05 pm

backrestWhy did I think that the backrest we ordered from Southwest Medical would actually arrive on time?!  I was suppose to get the backrest for my new wheelchair delivered by UPS today.  I went downstairs 3 times so far today to check to see if it had arrived yet. 

I found out that the UPS truck had in fact dropped off a package for someone else, but my package never did come!  Of course, if I had a tracking number for it, I could have went on their website and checked to see where it was, but Southwest Medical don’t believe in giving their customers tracking numbers!  I guess this explains why.  After all why would they give the person who bought something from them a tracking number when the item isn’t going to come on time?! 

Who would have thought that ordering a wheelchair would be so stressful and irritating?!  So far we went through the nightmare of ordering from Sportaid and having to deal with the inconfidence of the person we had to deal with there.  We’ve had parts of emails totally ignored time and time again.  Our questions weren’t answered, or were very delayed in being answered at all.  There was a problem with ordering the wheelchair with a credit card that wasn’t from the US (even though we’ve ordered using a UK credit card form them numerous times)!  The only way we even found out the new chair hadn’t been ordered was because Julian asked if it had been ordered!  They waited 10 days and didn’t even let us know there was a problem!  Even though they knew my chair is literally falling apart every day!  (Of course we are talking about the same people who sent me a pack of latex gloves after knowing I’m allergic to latex and they could have killed me!) 

 After telling them we needed the cushion first and it was really important because I have a pressure sore they sent me what was suppose to be my Spinergy wheels, backrest supports and cushion.  When I opened the box up it was only my wheels!  After having to go through the horrible process of trying to get more information from them through email, we were informed that the cushion and supports would be coming a week later and that if she had known I neede dit so badily she could have had it shipped sooner!  In that same email when I read back through the older messages she was told on at least 3 seperate occasions that I did have a pressure sore that was getting worse from my old cushion and desperately needed the new one sent asap! 

Southwest Medical on the other hand hasn’t been that hard to deal with, but they don’t believe in giving their customers tracking numbers.  I got my castors a day early, so I guess to make up for it they are sending my backrest a day late!  It’s so annoying!  Medical supply companies seem to have the attitude that they “allow” you to get around so you have to bow down and worship the ground they walk on, because you can’t!  Well that’s why Peachtree Active Living is going to go in a totally different dirrection!  We are going to actually “listen” to the customer and try to “help” them!  Imagine that!

April 8, 2007

Happy Easter

Filed under: Disability, Life, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 1:48 pm

EasterFirst of all I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter! 

I woke up early this morning, but because I wasn’;t planning on doing anything today I decided I would take the opportunity to sleep in.  It was nice.  I did miss talking to Julian though.  I’m so use to him calling me almost every morning when he;s away I feel like something’s missing today.

I got dressed and ready to take Sophie out a little while after I got up, and when we got in the elevator I smelled something.  Sophie was sniffing the air a lot, and that’s when I realized I had wheeled through dog poo!  A dog had had diarrhea in the middle of the elevator and the owner had just left it there!  They had to have noticed between the smell and the fact that it was right in the center of the floor!

When we got off on the first floor I went out the automatic door and noticed that someone had cleaned up a spot where the dog had had another accident on the way down the hall by the smell. 

It was cold outside, but there was no other dog out there.  Sophie did her thing and I cleaned up after her (unlike the other dog owner), and went back inside.  There was no one around to tell about the mess in the elevator, and the cleaners are off today anyway.  I couldn’t clean it up myself because I couldn’t reach down there and in order to be able to even get close enough to it I would have had to wheel through it again!  Not what I had in mind for Easter!  Especially since Sophie didn’t do it!

When the elevator came to go back upstairs, it was the service elevator.  I’m guessing that the elevator we went down on was stopped for cleaning, or that the other one was broken.  Either way, I was thankful!  I’m also gal there are security cameras in the elevators because if someone saw a tire track going through it they would have just automaticaly blamed it on Sophie because they would have thought of me right away!

calvin

April 7, 2007

Wheelchair update

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 12:56 pm

lightupI thought I’d write a bit of an update to let everyone know what is happening in  reguards to my new wheelchair.  I don’t have it yet, but it has been ordered, and is in production as I write this! 

On Thursday, April 5th I recieved my new casters.  They are 3″ micro lighted casters a lot like I have now.  They light up with red, blue, green and yellow lights when they move.  I find these to be very useful because they light up the space under and around the front of my chair so Sophie can see exactly where my front wheels are at night and how close my back wheels are to the edge of the sidewalk etc.

I also got my new Spinergy LX wheels.  I decided on 25″ wheels this time instead of 24″.  They are the same as my old wheels (red spokes, red tires, and foam coated pushrims.  The only difference is the tires are Kenda, and not Primo.  I think Kenda tires will be better though, because they have a different thread and are used to play sports like tennis and basketball. 

I’m suppose to get my backrest on Tuesday, April 10th, and my backrest supports and cushion on Wednesday, April 11th.  Then hopefully I will have my new wheelchair by April 29th!  Hopefully a lot sooner!  I’ll let you know when I know a shipping date for it for sure!  Wish me luck on getting it really soon!

April 2, 2007

Who are the real “victims” who “suffer” here?

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 7:52 am

attitude

I was reading a newspaper article a few minutes ago that talked about a guy who has spina bifida.  He was described as “a victim of spina bifida”.

I looked up the defination of “victim” on dictionary.com.  This is what it said:

Victim 

n.  

  1. One who is harmed or killed by another: a victim of a mugging.
  2. A living creature slain and offered as a sacrifice during a religious rite.
  3. One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition: victims of war.
  4. A person who suffers injury, loss, or death as a result of a voluntary undertaking: You are a victim of your own scheming.
  5. A person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of: the victim of a cruel hoax.

How exactly was he a “victim” here?  He wasn’t harmed by another person (it ws a birth defect).  He clearly wasn’t sacrificed as he is still alive.  It wasn’t an injury he suffered as a result of a voluntary undertaking.  I guess they were talking about being harmed or made to suffer from a circumstance or condition. 

Is he really a “victim” because he was born the way he was?  Because he uses a wheelchair to get around?  Will he automatically be a “victim” his whole life?  If you asked him to describe himself would he describe himself as a victim?  I highly doubt it!  Then why is the press labeling him that way?  Do they think because he uses a wheelchair he can’t possibly lead a happy and realitivly “normal” life?

I personally can’t stand being labeled in negative ways such as this!  I hear it all the time.  He was a “victim” of [insert disease/condition here].  She “suffers” from [insert condition here].  In fact the term “suffers from” was also used in the same newspaper article to describe this poor unfortunate guy who is unable to walk and therefore can’t possible lead a happy life.  How could he in his “condition”?

People with disabilities can and do lead “normal” and happy lives.  We have jobs, go shopping, raise families, and do everything able bodied people do.  We might do it a little differently, but we get the job done!  The people who really are the “victims” who “suffer” here are the extremely close minded individuals who label people who are disabled with these terms!

April 1, 2007

The problem with physical examinations

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Hints & Tips, Life, Making things accessible, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:37 am

examSomething came to my attention about a month ago that I hadn’t thought about before.  I was at the Doctor’s office, talking to her during an apointment and she mentioned having an exam done in the next three months.  Now, for all of the females out there, you probably know the dreded “exam” I’m talking about, and that in order for it to be possible you have to “hop up” onto an examination table much like the one pictured to the left.  This is not a problem for anyone who can walk.  There is usually some kind of step stool either attached to the table itself, or sitting on the floor in the office.

For anyone who can’t walk this presents a huge problem!  Unless someone can physically lift you up onto the exam table, there is no way to get up there.  It’s so tall, that transfering is impossible. 

In bigger hospitals there are “lift teams”, whose jobs are to lift people.  If I go to the hiospital the nurses would call the lift team and have them come lift me onto the stretcher, x-ray table etc.  This involves one of the guys standing behind my chair and slipping his arms under mine, and another guy standing in front of me holding me under my knees.  However if I go to a clinic, there is no “lift team”, and because of the height of the table and the fact that if my body straightens up when I’m in the horizontal position I tend to get really dizzy and pass out because my blood pressure drops so fast this just isn’t possible.

There are companies that make accessible examination tables that lower to a height that is more accessible for everyone.  A wheelchair user can transfer onto it before it is raised up, or a person with joint problems etc. can sit on it without having to use the step stool.  This option would make the whole process easier for everyone, but because they cost more, not very many places have them.

Here’s a question that there can be a lot of debate over:  If a female wheelchair user can’t physically get onto the exam table and she is on birth control what happens?  There are two options here.  The first is that the Doctor refuses to let her stay on birth control because she can’t get her regular pap smear, so she is either going to have to stop having sex altogether, or start planning a family.  The other option is for the Doctor to let her continue birth control without the annual exam.  If the wheelchair user knows the consequences of this, I believe it should be her choice, but sadly it’s usually the Doctor who is taking the wheelchair user’s life in their hands and making the decision for them.  No exam, no birth control!

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