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!


March 21, 2007

Clip from “Talk” by the Disability Rights Commission (UK)

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Life, Making things accessible, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:11 am

I just found this video, and I think it has a very strong message!  I should make a lot of people really think.  It gives a whole new meaning to “walking (or wheeling) a mile in someone else’s shoes!

The last part really hit a nerve with me.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve waited for a bus only for it not to be accessible.  Or if it was accessible for the driver to say it was “too full”, not stop at all, or even claim the ramp was broken!  Once I told them they could reach down and pull the ramp out by hand it would “magically” start “working” again!

February 23, 2007

A simple fix for a few problems

I’ve been living in this apartment now since December.  It’s for the most part pretty accessible.  The kitchen is big enough to turn around in, and the bathroom is really big.  I have been having some issues when it comes to transfering from my wheelchair to the toilet though.

The toilet is between the cabinets and bathtub, so we couldn’t attach a grab bar to the wall.  It wouldn’t make sense to attach one to the end of the cabinets because it just wouldn’t hold up to the weight.  I thought about this for awhile and came up with a solution.  I got a bathtub rail that clamps onto the side of the tub.  It’s next to the toilet, so I can grab it to transfer, and I can also use it to help pull myself onto my bath bench!  Also when I move out there wont be any holes in the wall to fill.

I just thought I’d share this idea with everyone in case it could help someone else.  If you have any unique ways you have solved a problem like this why not leave a comment?

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