Sunday, January 31, 2010

There are no monsters under my bed.

This was written in September 09 before I started this blog and I came across it today.

There are no monsters under my bed. I say that with conviction, I actually looked and didn’t see any. I was transferring from my bed to the wheel chair and got myself too close to the edge of the bed. I felt myself start to slip off the edge and before I could stop, began the slow slide over the last ridge of the mattress. I’ve heard of flying by the seat of your pants but this was so not cool and there was no flying involved. It was more of a controlled crash landing with no emphasis on the word controlled.
I let the dust clear and assessed the situation from floor level. My wheel chair was tantalisingly close it was just a case of stand up and Bob’s your uncle. Bob was not my uncle this morning, I doubt he ever will be. No matter how I arranged my legs I couldn’t find the right position to get up, and we won’t talk about the lack of strength first thing in the morning.
I know I’m a stubborn bugger and I don’t ask for help easily, I wasn’t brought up to be a wussy but I had to give in to self reasoning. Either I exhaust myself right there and then or, push the damn button hanging on round my neck and get a nurse to come help me up. Say no more.
So now I have a few peaceful moments to myself and I decided to take the opportunity to check for monsters under my bed. I mean, you never can be too sure that there’s nothing under there.
Hey! I watched ‘Monsters inc’.

I went out and about yesterday. Not that I haven’t been out before but it’s always been on my way somewhere. I’ve been trying to find a pair of shoes for winter and up until now haven’t had much luck. The shoes have to accommodate the AFOs that I wear and also must be easy to put on. I learnt recently that tying shoe laces is very nearly impossible for me. Talk about a frustrating exercise with fingers that just don’t cooperate. When holding a pen to write, I picked up the trick of looking at my hand as I write. I didn’t believe that trick until I had to do a psychological test and had to write and draw with both hands.
When I first looked for shoes I thought nothing of getting lace ups until I was asked to tie them. I stared down at my hands and achieved absolutely nothing. I even gave myself a good talking to in front of the shop assistant who looked at me with a degree of perplexity. The saying ‘mad dogs and Englishmen comes to mind’ and I wondered how long before he called the men in white coats.
Any way, yesterday I decided to go to the shop that supplied me with the AFOs. I bought my present shoes there. Miriam kindly offered to take me as she wanted my AFOs to be checked over and kind of refurbished. Of course we won’t talk about the price of said shoes but at the end of the day I have a quality pair of shoes that are comfortable and not too difficult to slip on.
On our way back we drove along the lake shore, it’s a seriously scenic drive with vineyards and orchards along the way with glimpses of water just meters away, waterfront properties with boats close by and some serious cars. An Aston Martin DB9 came growling past and then howled away, that sound just sets the heart racing. Miriam didn’t get it but then again, she’s a girl and cars aren’t her thing.
We came into the town of Rolle, apart from being on the lake there’s two things I know about Rolle. 1 there’s an ice-cream shop that’s well known and 2 there’s a chocolatier that makes awesome chocolate… I’ve had both.
We decided to go for some coffee down at the lake, found a parking and set off in search of a lakeside café.
It was so peaceful and tranquil along the lake and although there were lots of people around you didn’t hear them. There were people dotted around, reading, swimming, working on laptops, taking the dog for a walk or running or on bicycles. There’s an abundance of bird life from water fowl to ducks to sparrows to something that sounds and looks like a sea gull. I need to get a book on local birds as Miriam was asking me about them, give me an SA bird and I’ll probably know what it is but these one’s, no ways. I know what a duck is and pointed that out to Miriam. She gave me a look and said “I know that”.
“But”, I said “The colourful one is the male, all of us males stand out”. I received another look and my wheel chair edged closer to the lake…
I decided to keep quiet.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Personal art show.

Saturday was a day with a difference. Natalie, one of the caregivers here, phoned and invited me for coffee. By 3 I was ready as Natalie arrived and I took a step backwards, sorry, my chair rolled back. The uniforms here do not do justice to a lady’s figure.
So we ended up at the same coffee shop when I was with Deb, the same one that has a huge furniture store attached to it. It wasn’t long before we each had cups of hot chocolate in front of us. After a substantial chat we decided to explore the ground floor and see what specials were up for grabs. Upon our strolling we came across a display of original paintings and a good supply of prints.
Natalie was going through the prints and every so often would hold one up for me to see. Then she though out of the box and decided that I should have the opportunity to see them all. Natalie then arranged my own little display and went through every print and each time I said yes to a print she then placed it where I could see it. Eventually there were around 30 prints arranged in a semicircle around me. Shoppers walking past stopped to look and make a comment or two, staff members ignored us and we continued to have a bit of fun.
Next week we’ll descend on a store just up the road and see what we can get up to…

Today, seven days later, I received a call from Natalie. She won’t be round as she has injured her leg and will going for an operation on Monday. The store we were going to visit will just have to wait our attention.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The fast and the not so furious.

So I have two power chairs here with me, kind of crowds my room a bit. Miriam wanted to know what it was like to drive one and she wanted proof as to which one was fastest. Say no more.
Now there are two of us outside in the snow on power chairs and I know when Ross reads this he’s going to wish that he was here. We made our way carefully over the sidewalks covered in snow and slush, have to say here that Miriam is a learner driver and she has to get used to the controls.
As soon as we got to a quiet part of the road Miriam pulled up and waited for me to line up with her. Then, it was ready, steady, go, and Miriam took off. I gave her a few seconds and followed and promptly overtook her. We did this a couple of times and then I gave Miriam a long lead time and when she was about 10m ahead gave chase. These chairs are like chalk and cheese, I overtook Miriam and left her like she was standing.
Today, the road through the forest. Tomorrow, the grand prix circuit.

Friday 15th saw Jean-François back to pick up the demo chair and enquire as to my comments.
It is such a pleasure to deal with a professional, the answers to my concerns and problems were quick and all the solutions were neatly stated and my preferences were noted. All I have to wait for is the favourable answer from social service. As with any government department there is a waiting period so now we wait.

Monday was a brilliant affair with bright blue skies, a huge glowing sun hanging and radiating and most of the snow and ice melted. The sidewalks that I crossed over gingerly last week I could now take a full speed again. It was warm enough to leave things like gloves off and not worry about zipping coats up.
Deb arrived to take me to lunch, instead of the norm of taking my manual chair and driving elsewhere we stuck in Etoy. Strangely enough it’s the first time Deb has seen me in action in my chair and she had to remember that it was electric and I didn’t need a push.
It was after lunch that I saw the realisation on her face that she could go anywhere in the shop and I could make my own way at my own speed. Then the game was on and Deb learned the strength of her index finger. She’d call me and crook her finger and saunter off and find a display to look at. Naturally we have the same taste in furniture
Then Deb got clever and found small gaps to go through and I’d find myself having to back up without knocking things off shelves, go the long way round and wait for the comment.
And I love you too Deb.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Living on the edge.

I’m not about to let a path covered in snow get me down or not allow me usage. I was back at my short cut after another snow fall and there was about an inch of dry powdery snow on the path. Miriam cycled up the bank ever so nonchalantly and I followed shortly with the saying “Coffee or bust” flashing in my head. I drove over the spot with the mud bath, heard the ice crack but got across without loosing face. Then it was up the bank, all I could hear was the soft squeak of dry snow on my tires and then I was at the top.
Two days later, I did it again.
Easy huh.

Friday afternoon saw social service back at the home with an alternative power chair for me to try out. I’m so used to the one I’ve been using, I’ve got used to all the quirks that I’m suddenly all at sea with this new one. It’s funny how we adapt to our situations and have a routine for getting unresponsive or little responsive limbs to go where we want them to go. Then when we have a shakeup to that routine and it’s a whole new learning curve. This new chair is bigger, taller and has a whole pile of gadgets added to it supposedly to help me either now or at some later stage and the front wheels are much bigger.
Getting in and out of the chair unaided proves a challenge from the start and adjustments are going to have to be made if this chair becomes mine. Straight away I find it’s more comfortable and it has suspension that works. Now comes the part where I get to drive it and I do my thing around my room and corridor, straight away I find that I have to do a 3point turn where I’d normally just spin round. Getting through a door way or into the lift is a little tricky as there’s not much lee way. Too think that I have a driver’s licence that allows me to drive an articulated vehicle…
Then I got to try it out on the road.
I’m so used to a bumpy ride and it took a while to sink in that I wasn’t bouncing on every bump. The controls are very sensitive and I have to turn corners with care until my hands adjust to the quick response.
As for speed, this chair is a lot faster and I’m not complaining but again I have to learn the quirks, like letting go of the control at speed locks the wheels up. Been there, done that, whilst I was going down hill. I gracefully slid over some snow into the kerb and sat there rocking gently as a voice behind me made a comment……
Got to my favourite pathway now covered in a good amount of snow and ice, didn’t bat an eyelid going up. Now I’m styling.
I did find one annoying problem. The driving controls are too far forwards and I have to sit at an unnatural angle to be able to drive, got to address that.

Monday 11th after more snow on the weekend I took to the road again, still sitting at a funny angle but hey! I like being outside. I need to seriously find a new route to anywhere for hot chocolate although with this chair my usual way whizzes past in a blur.
Coming back, the bicycle lane was a white blanket and it squeaked and crackled as I drove over it and then I came to the sidewalk. I didn’t think twice and just turned onto it and suddenly found myself drifting sideways with the drop off the kerb coming up fast and oncoming traffic in my face. At least I know my heart works as it leaped into my throat. I backed up and tried again at a much lower speed, could feel the back wheels wanting to slide out.
Negotiated two sidewalks like that.
Told Miriam that I like living on the edge…

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Going nowhere slowly.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve stayed inside, I haven’t been able to get out, the weather has been a tad inclement with snow falling, rain dropping or wind blowing.
At first chance I was out of the house and into the car park waiting for Miriam to get organised with her bike. There was a fair amount of snow on the ground and naturally I tried a few donuts. Couldn’t get that right, hoped nobody was watching my pathetic spinning and re-adjusted my halo…
We took the long route along the forest road. The peace and quiet in the forest was unreal, you have to hear it to understand it. It’s like you’re wrapped in a thick blanket of silence, echo’s are smothered and voices are muted. I battled to hear a car come up behind me and I had to be extra vigilant.
All the pathways through the forest are highlighted in white and look very inviting and tempting and I had to resist the urge to make tracks where no power chair’s been before.
Before long, my favourite path up the bank was in front of me, white and unsullied. Tally ho, don’t spare the horses…and I slid to a halt half way up. Say no more. I might as well of stayed at home and cracked an egg on my head.
With a good deal of pushing and shoving from Miriam I finally reached the top and it was straight to Migros for a hot chocolate.
A couple of days later I managed to get stuck again and this time it was on the flat in a patch of thick glutinous grey mud. Again Miriam had to push me out.
It was only when I got home that I found I was carrying an extra kilo of weight and I was leaving a clear indication of where I’d been.
The closest thing to a carwash was a chairwash in my shower……

A new year brings new expectations, new places to go to and new experiences. Yesterday, the 2nd of Jan, Miriam picked me up and took me to Montreux (The head office of Nestlé is situated here). Montreux is crowded by mountains on one side and the lake on the other. There’s a nice pathway along the lakeshore and even though it was really cold there were a lot of people walking about. I saw one family, mum, dad and children, scoot past all on push scooters. Talk about ‘with it’ parents… There weren’t many dogs taking their owners for walkies.
We didn’t stay outside for long and wound up at Sinatra’s bar where a huge mug of hot chocolate was welcome.