Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just in case someone read the "Blockers" entry,
but did not read what I added later, I was only
joking about Blockers. There is no such thing.
A friend as well as an unknown reader thought I
was serious. Sorry. I thought pretty much the
entire post was so absurd that everyone would
know I was kidding.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

A question from a reader

I was asked the following question:

When someone (who is not in a wheelchair) is
talking to you, is it considerate or condescending
for them to squat next to you to be at eye level?
I can see it either way, and can also imagine the
issue to be a personal preference sort of thing.
What is your opinion?

Personally, I like it when people squat when they
are talking to me. However, I know a lot of wheelchair
users think that it is condescending. Like you said,
it's very much of a personal preference. I think if
you are in the situation and you are unsure, just ask
which they prefer.

I don't mind when people do not squat though.

Thanks for the question. I've realized that I'm starting
to have a hard time thinking of things to write. Originally
I planned to post here everyday, but now that getting the
iBOT is most likely going to be delayed until April, I think
it will be difficult to come up with something everyday for
the next 60+ days. I suppose I will at least post a picture

Sunday, January 28, 2007


If you are a wheelchair user, you know all too
well about Blockers. Wait a minute, come to think
of it, you probably don't know about them because
99% of wheelchair users sit in their house all day,
every day staring at the four walls wondering
what to do next. I guess it would be more realistic
to say that if you are one of the 1% of wheelchair
users who leave the house, you know all to well about
Blockers. And of course if you are not a
wheelchair users, you know nothing of Blockers.

So what exactly is a Blocker you ask. A Blocker
is a person who lays down on the sidewalk whenever
they see a wheelchair coming. They won't move until
the wheelchair user says, "Please allow me to pass
dear Blocker", while handing them a $5 bill. (I make
sure I carry at least 10 $5 bills with me wherever
I go because if don't have a 5, I'm SOL.)

I realized this morning that after I get my iBOT,
Blockers will be in for a huge surprise. When I
see one laying in my path, I'll put the iBOT into
4 Wheel Function, turn up the speed, and plow
right over the top of them. The look on their faces
will be priceless. And boy am I going to have a lot
more money to spend on other things. Things that I
will actually enjoy, like chocolate pudding.

That's right, it won't be much longer until I start
calling Blockers "Speedbumps"! Kudos to you Dean
Kamen, inventor of the iBOT.

ADDED LATER: I was only kidding when I wrote this.
Someone thought I was serious. People do not block
me and demand $5. I won't run anyone over. 99% of
wheelchair users do not sit in their houses staring
at the four walls wondering what to do next. Oh, and
in a post from a few days ago, there aren't really
alligators, and tigers, and elephants, etc in Oregon.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Hopefully I will have my iBOT by April

I jinxed myself when I posted the other day about getting
my iBOT the week of March 12th. I was hoping to get it that week because I have to take delivery of it in
Seattle and a friend is going to be in Seattle that
week which means we could have hooked up.

Anyway... I talked to the reimbursement guy at Independence
Technology yesterday. My original plan was to buy the iBOT
and then ask my insurance company if they would pay for some
of it. I don't expect them to pay for all of it, because
most insurance companies follow what Medicare does and
Medicare says the iBOT is a "luxury" item, and therefore it
is not covered. However, I need to switch to a powerchair
because of my shoulders. So I'm hoping that they will pay
for a basic powerchair and then I can take that money and
apply it to the iBOT. The knowledgeable Daniel at Independence
Technology found out that with my insurance company, I have
to submit a letter of medical necessity, as well as a note
from the physical therapist, and a perscription, and then
wait to hear back from them BEFORE I place the order. Daniel
says this may put me back a month or so.

Personally, I think the nice people at Independence Technology
should go ahead and start building my iBOT now. -wink wink-
I've heard nothing but good things about Independence Technology,
and I'm sure they want to see this poor old crippled woman in
their wonderful chair as soon as possible. Plus, it really would
be in their best interest to get it to me sooner than later because
the sooner I get it, the sooner I start raving about it. :D

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Swamp

Today's photo is of a wildlife area near my
house. My daughter likes to explore the area
with her dad. I've wanted to go with her, but
it's too wheelchair unfriendly.

I will be able to go there after I get my iBOT.
I can't wait to see all the alligators, elephants,
tigers, kangaroos, dinosaurs... you know, all the
natural wildlife we have here in Portland Oregon.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Update of when I'll be getting my iBOT

I predict it will be the week of March 12th.


That's all I've got for today.

Oh, my daughter wants to choose today's

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bursting With Excitement!

I take my pooches down to the sewer water
river nearly every day. When it's warm, Gus
likes to swim and Trudy likes to rummage around
on the beach looking for dead and extremely
stinky things to roll in. Sometimes when my
daughter is with me, she likes to go down on
the beach and look for neat rocks.

Usually we stay up on the grassy part of the
park because getting to the sewer water requires
going down about 10 steps. On the occassions when
I have a daughter or a dog who wants to go down
there, I watch from a distance. Pretty soon,
I won't have to do that anymore. I checked
today to see if the railing extended beyond the
top step. It does and that makes me so happy
because I'll get to do the steps in my iBOT all
by myself! After I get down the steps, I'll be
able to go through the sand with no problem. The
big rocks that you see in the photo above might be
a bit of a challenge. :D Seriously though, the rocks
will not be a problem because I can go around them.

And maybe someday soon they'll stop dumping sewage
into the river!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is That Your Final Decision?

Yes. After my evalution yesterday, going ahead
and purchasing the iBOT is my final decision.

Most impressive yesterday:

I went up and then down a very steep hill but I
stayed level in my seat. I wouldn't even attempt
to go up it in my manual as I would have flipped
over backwards. Going down in the manual would also
be out of the question as I would lose control. It
was strange. Strange, but very good. My daughter is
reading over my shoulder, and she said she was very
nervous when she first saw the hill and heard that I
was going to go up it. The iBOT went up it with
no problem at all. With the seat staying level, it
was such a strange feeling. Normally a hill like that
would get my heart pumping, even if someone were there
to help me.

Also, I went from the sidewalk, over a grassy parking strip
with large protruding tree roots, and then down a curb.
All of that in like, I don't know, maybe 10 seconds. And
it wasn't as jarring as I remember it being at the test
drive. It was so weird. I'm sorry, I don't have better
words to describe it other than "so weird".

But probably the thing I liked the best was being in
Balance Function. I went to the Starbucks counter to
get my daughter a drink, and I was eye level to the
people behind the counter. That was, uh, bizarre.

Strange, weird, bizarre. My experiences with the iBOT
yesterday were all of those things. I have mixed emotions
because it was wonderful to do those things, but it was
also a bit shocking because I realized that I've lived
for the past 28 years without those luxuries that normally
aren't even thought of as luxuries.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Going to Seattle

Well, tomorrow is the big day. I'm going up
to Seattle to have my iBOT evaluation. Then
they'll Fed Ex a purchase agreement to me and
I'll put $1,000 down and wait 4 to 6 weeks. At
delivery, I'll have to pay the remaining $22,900.
That's the part I'm nervous about.

My stomach is in knots.

I may not post tomorrow since I might get home
really late.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


My house was built in the 20's. Like the
majority of houses in my neighborhood, it
has built-ins in the dining area.

I spent a good part of today cleaning. I've
never seen the tops of my built-ins. I can
reach up there, but I cannot see up there.
I realized that having the iBOT is going to
create more housework for me because I'll be
able to see the dust on the upper shelves.
Dang, I might want to rethink getting this

Edited to add: I don't know what is going on,
but I can't get the title to post like all the
other ones.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Humongous headache going on here and computer
is being funky. Don't wanna spend time on this

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Acrostic Poem                                                                     

I am getting an iBOT
Big and bulky
On top of everything
The iBOT is great

Today's entry was written by my daughter, and
the photograph was chosen by her.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow trouble                                                                              

The snow remains.  

I had ordered groceries online yesterday to be delivered
today, but they called an hour before they were going to
deliver and said they weren't going to do it.  I called the
pizza place to have a pizza delivered and they weren't 
making deliveries.   

The cats needed food, and I needed food, so I had to
go to the grocery store.  The roads were pretty much
fine.  Getting to my car and then back into the house
was a problem.  The ramp was covered with snow and
I couldn't get through it on my own.  My daughter had
to push me down, and then back up the ramp when we
got home. 

If there is school tomorrow, I cannot take her.  She could
help me down the ramp, but then after I dropped her off,
she wouldn't be there to help me back up.  

She'll go though.  I'll just ask one of her friend's mom to
stop by and pick her up.

This wouldn't be an issue if I had an iBOT.

I saw some fun snow creations on my drive to the grocery

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lotsa snow

We woke up this morning to snow.  We have 3 or
4 inches I'd guess.  That's not much for places that
normally get snow, but it's a lot for Portland.  When
I lived in MN and WI, 3 inches was nothing.  Life
went on as usual.  3 inches in Portland and the city
shuts down.   In MN the roads get plowed and salted,
and the sidewalks get shoveled.  In Portland, I think 
most homeowners do not even own a snow shovel.  
I just looked up and down my street and not a single
person has shoveled their sidewalk.  

Needless to say, getting through snow in a manual chair
isn't easy.  And since people do not shovel the snow here,
it's harder to get around here when we get 3 inches than it
was there when we got 12 inches.

My daughter and I were at the store the other day and
we saw a cheap sled for $3.00.  I bought it for her because
the last time it snowed the cardboard she tried didn't work
well.  Plus I figured if I bought a sled, it wouldn't ever snow
in Portland again!  

My daughter went out first thing this morning sliding down
the driveway.  I actually had a desire to go out with her.  If
I had my iBOT, I definitely would have been out there.  
Probably not for long, but I'm sure we would have had
some fun.  Instead, I watched her from the porch.  

Then one of her friends called and they went to the park
together.  I took a nap.  :D  

P.S.  I can't go up to Seattle tomorrow as I had planned 
because of the snow.  Ordering the iBOT has been delayed
yet again because of the weather.  :(

Monday, January 15, 2007

Deleted by me because it was a controversial subject
that had nothing to do with the iBOT anyway.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Same as above.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Stair Function                                                              

Stair Function allows the iBOT user to climb up and
down a couple of steps, or even a full flight of stairs
-  indoors or out - on your own or with assistance.
With input from the driver and or assistance, the
iBOT uses gyroscopes and adjusts to the user's center
of gravity, climbing stairs by rotating wheels up and
over each other.

To make the transition from Standard Function to
Stair Function, push and hold the seat position toggle
forward.  While one hand is holding the handrail, push
the selection toggle to the left until the stair icon is
displayed.  Push and hold the seat position toggle forward
until the stair icon is flashing bold.  Push the OK button.
If someone is assisting, they need to press the assist
button located on the back of the chair after you press
the OK button.  Push the seat position toggle to the left
until the seat stops tilting.  

To transition back to Standard Function, push the selection
toggle to the right.  Push the flashing OK button.  Push the
seat position toggle back.  Push the seat position toggle
back again.  

Geez, that wasn't a very good description, was it?  Sorry,
it's the best I can do today.  

Note:  Stairs need to be between 10 to 17 inches in depth,
and 5 to 8 inches in height.  For independent stair climbing,
there must be at least one sturdy handrail.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Balance  Function                                                                      

When I first heard about the iBOT, I thought the
Stair Climbing Function would be what I would like
the most about it.  Now that I've done my test drives,
the Balance Function is my favorite.

Balance Function enables the iBOT user to reach
things above them, such as kitchen cupboards and
items on the higher shelves at the grocery store.  It
is also used when you want to have a conversation
with a standing adult at eye level.

There are a number of steps involved in getting to
Balance Function from Standard Function.  However,
the entire process takes only about 10 to 15 seconds.

First you need to get to 4-Wheel Function.  Push and
hold the seat position toggle forward.  This takes
approximately 5 seconds.

The next step involves tilting the seat back.  I don't
particularily like this step because it tilts quite far
back (see photo above).  It does not feel unsafe, but
it feels rather awkward.  

To tilt the seat back, push the selection toggle to the
right.  Next, push the flashing OK button to confirm
that you want to go to Balance Function.  Now push
the seat position toggle left until the seat stops tilting.  
This takes about 3 seconds.

The last step can be achieved in one of three ways:
1.  Push the joystick forward
2.  Push off of a stationary object in line with your 
3.  Shift your head and trunk slightly forward and 
     then backward quickly

The process of moving from the tilted back position
to the Balance Function takes about 2 seconds.  

Balance Function can be used when driving on
reasonably level and smooth ground.  Inclines
should not exceed 5 degrees, and obstacles should
not exceed 1 inch in height.

To transition back to Standard Function, first
transition to 4-Wheel Function by pushing the
seat toggle to the left until the seat stops.  This
takes about 2 seconds.

Next, push the seat position toggle to the left
again until all 4 drive wheels are on the ground.
This takes approximately 4 seconds.  Next push
the seat position toggle back.  This last step
takes about 5 seconds.  

BTW, I was surprised at how quiet the chair is
when it is switching from function to function.  
It's a bit louder going up and down stairs, but
still quite acceptable.

My older sister will be with me next week when
I have my assessment.  I will probably be taller
than her when I'm in Balance Function.  Taller!
And I know I'll be taller than my daughter which
is only natural considering she is nine years old.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

4-Wheel Function                                                         

4-Wheel Function allows the iBOT user to drive
across soft or loose terrain such as dirt, grass, gravel,
and sand.   4-Wheel Function is intended mainly for 
outdoor use.   

To transition from Standard Function to 4-Wheel
Function, push and hold the seat position toggle forward
to raise the seat height and caster wheels.  The transition
takes approximately 5 seconds.

To transition from 4-Wheel Function to Standard Function,
push and hold the seat position toggle back to lower the
seat height and caster wheels.  

As well as using 4-Wheel Function when driving on loose
or soft terrain, it should also be used on sloped surfaces
that are between 5 and 10 degrees, curb-like obstacles
up to 5 inches, and water up to 3 inches.

Have I mentioned how excited I am to take the iBOT
to the beach?  :D

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Standard Function                                                                               

I have an appointment for my assessment!  It's 
next Wednesday.  Basically, I'll get in the iBOT and
they will determine if they think it will be a good
chair for me.  If I try to take a flight of stairs in
Standard Function at 8mph, they'll most likely
have a heart attack, and then not recommend the 
iBOT for me.  

The day after the assessment, they will Fed Ex me
some purchase agreement forms, I'll put $1,000
down on it, and they'll start making it for me!  I'm
going to order a hot pink leopard print seat.  Actually,
I'm pretty sure they don't offer color choices, although
I think they should.  If it were an option, I'd just order
plain old black.  Black helps me blend in with the crowd.  

It'll be 4 to 6 weeks in the making, and so I might get
it as soon as mid to late February.

I've been studying this CD-ROM that I wrote
about yesterday, but unlike yesterday, what I
write today is true.

The iBOT has 5 functions to choose from:
~ Standard
~ 4-Wheel
~ Balance
~ Stair
~ Remote

Today's entry is about Standard Function.

Standard Function is used on reasonably level
surfaces (wood, cement, secured carpet, etc),
slopes no greater than 5 degrees, and going over
obstacles measuring no more than 1 inch in height.

The seat is at the lowest level to access a table
or desk.

In Standard Function the iBOT has the functionality
of a conventional powerchair.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Practicing Using the iBOT                                                         

I have this cool CD-ROM that gives me "a 
virtual experience of the innovative functions 
and features of the iBOT 4000 Mobility System".  
It's just like a video game.  For example, it puts
you at the top of the stairs and then you are
supposed to click on the correct buttons, toggles,
and/or joystick to put it into stair climbing mode.
If you click on the correct ones, it takes you down
the flight of stairs successfully.  However, if you
get it wrong, like say you push the joystick forward,
it crashes down the stairs, breaks into pieces and
the sharp pieces fly all over the place and impale 
innocent bystanders.   And then it bursts into 
flames when it hits the bottom.  

There is another scenario when you're cruising
at 8mph down the sidewalk in standard function
and you see that you are approaching a curb.  
I'm guessing you are supposed to stop, put it in
4 wheel function, and proceed to climb the curb.
Being that I am a person of very little self-control,
I keep travelling in the standard function and slam
into the curb.  It sends me flying out of the chair,
and I skid to a stop on my face.  Then an ambulance
comes and rushes me to the ER where I have
to get a bunch of stitches.   More stuff happens,
but I haven't gotten past the part where I'm
discussing options with the plastic surgeon. 

Now I don't know how they do this, but this is the
super cool part.  I can actually feel the sidewalk
scraping my face off and the shot in the ER to
numb the area before the doctor stitches me
up.  When the numbness starts to wear off,
it's fairly painful, but the morphine helps a lot.  

I'm telling ya, this thing is going to be hot.  The
kids will be snapping these CD's up once word
gets out.

Okay, truth is, it does take you through different
scenarios, but if you get it incorrect, it tells you
you got it wrong and to try again.  It is a pretty
neat program... but the 12 year old boys aren't
going to be begging to borrow it.

It did make me think of something though.  After
you climb the stairs, you are supposed to put it
back into standard function and then back away
from the stairs.  You are only inches from the
top of the stairs and what if you are distracted
and you accidently push the joystick forward
instead of back?  That would not be a pretty
sight.  One might argue that it's no different
from a powerchair, but it actually is different
because in a powerchair, when would you ever
be in the situation of heading straight on to a
flight of stairs only inches away from the top
step?  Maybe the iBOT people made it so that
you cannot go forward immediately after climbing
stairs.  If anyone happens to know the answer
to my question (Bill?), leave a comment! 

Monday, January 8, 2007


I was lying in bed last night thinking about how 
much I cannot wait for spring.  I always love spring -
feeling the warm sun on my arms and face, seeing the
blooming flowers, hearing the birds sing and the
children laugh.  

This spring will be extra fantastic because I'll have
my iBOT.  I'll be able to go throughout the neighbor-
hood without worrying about my shoulders or
lack of curb cuts.  

True, a lack of curb cuts aren't that big of deal
considering there's always a driveway around,
but it's safer and more convenient to cross at
the corner.

Also, a regular powerchair would work as well
as an iBOT if it's just my shoulders I'm worried
about.  However, I've never had any desire to
spend even a couple thousand dollars on a regular
powerchair.  It would have been really nice at
certain times to have a powerchair, but not
worth the money it would cost to purchase one.  
And since I'm a para, insurance wouldn't cover
a powerchair.

I wish I could hybernate for the next 2+ months.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

That's Incredible!                                                                                                

Two days ago, I posted:

"Kamen has also invented a compressed air
powered device which would launch a human
into the air in order to quickly launch SWAT
teams or other emergency workers to the roofs
of tall, inaccessible buildings."

Er, at least that's according to Wikipedia.  I
searched and searched for more information
about this today and I found nothing.  

This "compressed air powered device" sounds 
unreal, and unsafe.  I probably would have 
thought the same thing about the iBOT if 1o 
years ago I had read that there was a new 
wheelchair that balances on two wheels and  
climbs stairs.  The very first time I heard
about the iBOT, it was on TV, and so I also
saw it.   Even seeing it was hard to believe.

Remember that show "That's Incredible!"?
Once when I was a kid and I was watching
the show there was a story about a person
who was paralyzed.  One day this person was
struck by lightning and then suddenly they
could walk.  For a long time after that show,
I wanted to go sit out in the yard during
storms, but I never did it because I was
afraid my parents would commit me.

I'm probably not making much sense, but I'm
tired and cranky, so there.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


I was reading about Dean Kamen's inventions
last night shortly before I went to bed (see 
yesterday's entry), and I was thinking about
how great it is that we have people in this world
who use their smartness to invent things that 
make people's lives better.  Then I went to bed 
and I was too tired to read so I turned the TV on. 
There was a show on the History Channel about 
weapons of mass destruction.  One of the topics 
was about the man who invented the machine 
gun and I started thinking about how much 
nicer our world would be if certain things were 
never invented, such as guns, nuclear weapons, 
nerve gases, McDonalds, the mullet hairstyle, 
the accordian, and chocolate covered bananas.    

Friday, January 5, 2007

Dean Kamen's Other Inventions                                                           
Kamen is probably most well-known to the
public from the publicity surrounding the
product that eventually became known as
the Segway HT, an electric scooter with a
complex, computer-controlled gyroscopic
stabilization and control system that keeps
the device balanced on two horizontally-
placed wheels and controlled by moving
body weight. The machine's secret
development was the object of much
speculation after segments of a book
quoting Steve Jobs and other notable
IT visionaries espousing its society-
revolutionising potential were leaked
in January 2001.

Kamen has worked extensively on a
project involving Stirling engine designs,
attempting to create a machine that would
generate power while serving as a water
purification system. He hopes the project
will help improve living standards in
developing countries.

Kamen has also invented a compressed air
powered device which would launch a human
into the air in order to quickly launch SWAT
teams or other emergency workers to the roofs
of tall, inaccessible buildings.

However, Kamen was already a successful and
wealthy inventor, after inventing the AutoSyringe,
a new type of mobile dialysis system for medical
applications, the first insulin pump, and an all-
terrain electric wheelchair known as the iBOT
using many of the same gyroscopic balancing
technologies that later made their way into the
Okay, I cheated.  I copied the above from Wikipedia.
Sorry, I've had a long and busy day and I'm tired. 

The picture is mine though.  It's a photo of a moss
rose.  These flowers have always been special to me
because my Grandma always had these flowers
popping up from the cracks in her driveway.  Fond
memories of my Gram and her garden and summer...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

IBOT vs Other Power Chairs                                                    

I don't have much time, so I copied this from

The iBOT has a number of features distinguishing
it from most powered wheelchairs:

While the iBOT has four powered wheels (in
addition to two small casters used on smooth
surfaces), it is capable of balancing on a single
pair of wheels.  This mode of operation also
raises the user of the wheelchair so that their
eyes are at the same approximate level as
normally-standing people.

By rotating its two sets of powered wheels about
each other, the iBOT is capable of "walking" up
and down stairs without requiring assistance.
During independent stair climbing, the user
requires a sturdy handrail and a strong grip.
With an assistant, neither a handrail, nor a
strong grip is required.

The iBOT is capable of tethered remote control
operation (useful for loading device up steep ramps
into vehicles, or "parking" against a wall after rider
gets into bed).

A special software package called iBALANCE receives
data via various sensors and gyroscopes, allowing the
iBOT to maintain balance during certain maneuvers.
For example during curb climbing the seat remains
level while parts of the chassis tilt to climb the curb.

It allows the user to rise from a sitting level to approx.
6 ft. tall (measured from the ground to the top of the
head, and depending on the size of the occupant). It
does this by raising one pair of wheels above the other
to elevate the chassis, while a separate actuator slightly
raises the seat further. In this configuration the device
is on two wheels, and the gyroscope acts as the iBOT’s
equilibrium to keep itself stable, balancing much like
the Segway scooter. The user may also travel in this
"standing" configuration.

It can climb and descend curbs ranging from 0.1 in. To
5.0 inches, according to manufacturer's specifications.
Further, performance envelope determined by rider's
technique and risk tolerance.

It is capable of traveling on and through a large variety
of terrain and weather.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Some Information about SCI                                                                             
Every day more than 30 people in the United
States become paralyzed from spinal cord
injury or disease.  Spinal cord injury (SCI)
is damage to the spinal cord that results in a
loss of function such as mobility or feeling.  

Motor vehicle crashes top the list of SCI
causes, followed by acts of violence, falls,
and sports.  Most injuries occur in people
30 years old or younger, and the majority
of injuries occur in men.

SCI generally results in one of two types of
paralysis.  Quadriplegia affects the neck and
chest, and everything below.  It involves loss
of function in both the arms and  the legs.  
Paraplegia affects the legs and lower part of
the body.  Effects of SCI depend on the
level of injury (the higher the injury, the more
function loss), and whether the injury is complete
or incomplete.  A person with a complete injury
means that there is no function below the level
of injury.  An incomplete injury means that there
is some funtioning below the primary level of the
injury.    With advances in acute treatment of SCI,
incomplete injuries are becoming more common.

Which leads me to common misconception #1 :
If a person with a SCI works hard enough, they
will be able to walk again.
 Not true!  In my case, I
have a complete injury which means messages that go
from my brain, through my spinal cord, and to other
parts of my body, don't go through.  It doesn't matter
how hard I work or concentrate, my cord has been so
severly damaged that the message do not go through.  
I promise you, I am not sitting in this wheelchair
because I'm lazy.

Common Misconception #2:
A person with SCI has a severed spinal cord.  
Not true!  In fact, in most people with SCI, the spinal
cord is intact, but the damage to it results in loss of
functioning.  In my case, being thrown from the car
and landing on the road caused me to break my
4th and 5th Thoracic Vertebrae.  I actually wasn't
paralyzed until hours after the accident.  I was even
walking around at the scene of the accident.  My
only obvious injury was a broken arm.  The broken
vertebrae caused swelling, and the swelling is what
crushed my spinal cord, doing irreparable damage.
In most cases though, the damage begins at the
moment of injury when displaced bone fragments,
disc material, or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal
cord tissue.  Again, most injuries to the spinal cord
don't completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more
likely to cause fractures and compression of the
vertebrae, which then crush and destroy the axons,
extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and
down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest
of the body. An injury to the spinal cord can damage
a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some
injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others
will result in complete paralysis.

Common misconception #3:
People with SCI don't have normal relationships.
Not true!  The picture I am posting today is of me and
my daughter when she was a baby.  People with SCI
can and do have loving relationships.   Women with
SCI are able to give birth to normal, healthy children.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Stairs AGAIN?                                                                         

Sorry, I don't mean to dwell on stairs, but they've
been a major pain in the ass for the majority of
my life.

I was thinking this morning about how I have 
never had a friend whose home is wheelchair
accessible.  Wait, there was one friend, but he
doesn't count because he is in a wheelchair
too and so of course his place is accessible.
Other than him, I have never, ever, been able
to knock on a friend, neighbor, or family member's
front door without assistance from at least one
able bodied adult.   I mean, I was physically able
to climb steps before my accident, but I was only
8 years old when I was injured, and I'm sure
my mom wouldn't allow me to go knocking on
people's doors without an adult with me.

I suppose this might not sound like such a big
deal, and I hope it doesn't sound like I'm whining,
because I'm not, but this iBOT is a huge deal!  It's
going to, and already has, changed people's lives!  
It pisses me off that every wheelchair user can't
have one.  In a perfect world, no one would need
a wheelchair.  But since hundreds of thousands
of people do need a wheelchair, and our world
was built for walkers, it's only right that every
person who would benefit from an iBOT should  
have an iBOT.  There are a wide variety of 
reasons why many wheelers don't have iBOTs, but 
the number 1 reason is that it's expensive.  Most
insurance companies  aren't willing to pay for a $23,900
wheelchair when they figure the person can get
by perfectly fine with a $2,000 manual wheelchair.
That's gotta change, but I'm completely clueless
as to how to make that happen.   

Monday, January 1, 2007

Stairs Again                                                                        

I was thinking about how in my 28 years of
being carried up and down stairs, I've never
been dropped.  I used to allow people to get
me up stairs all the time.  Even strangers.  
Even drunk strangers.  Now that I'm a mom,
I don't do stuff like that anymore.  I let some
people get me up stairs, but only if I know them,
and they are sober, and I think they are capable.

Last New Year's Eve I went to a friend's party.
She has a million steps to her front door.  Or
maybe about 20.  Either one, it was a lot of
stairs.  I really didn't want to be a bother, plus
it was dark and rainy and I didn't know if the
guys carrying me were sober or not.  I would
have declined the invitation but my daughter
really wanted to go.  

Kind of the same thing happened this year, except
there was no alcohol involved, and the flight of
stairs was inside the house, where it was well lit
and dry.  Like last year, the carry was fine.  They
didn't drop me and as far as I know, they didn't
hurt themselves.  I ended up having a fun time,
so I'm glad I went.  :)

Next New Year's Eve, ain't no one gonna have
to get me up the stairs cuz with a little help from
a machine attached to my butt, I'll be doing it all
by myself.  :D