Sunday, September 30, 2007

Introducing the Bot to the family

I moved out of my parent's house when I was 18.
Since that time, they have lived in a few
different houses. I've never been able to
just show up at their front door when I've gone
to visit. There have always been accessibility
issues, resulting in them needing to assist me.
No more of that baloney! Today I was able
to knock on their front door, completely
with no assistance from them, thanks to the
iBOT! It was great!

Before today they didn't know that I had the
Bot... so today was a surprise. Since I've
been talking about it for years, they figured
I'd eventually get one, but they didn't know
that I had one. My mom said, "When did you
get that?!". My dad said, "Holy cow, you got
one!" My sister said, "You're tall!"

They live in the country. I was looking
forward to exploring a bit on their property,
but the weather was too yucky to do anything

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Making the Balance to Standard Transition (part 2)

In this video I'm leaving the bookstore. I have
to stop and transition back to Standard Function
because whenever I go through any sort of theft
detector, I have to be in Standard Function. If
I'm not, I might tip over. From what I hear,
one person was in her iBOT at the mall and she
was in Balance Function. She went through a
theft detector and the iBOT tipped over forward.
Luckily it dumped her out instead of the chair
falling on top of her. I tipped forward once
and the chair fell on top of me, but that was
only in my manual chair. I ended up with a fat
lip, a cracked tooth, and a trip to the ER to get
a 1 1/2 inch tear in my forehead stitched up.
I really hope IT can fix this problem because
spacing out and going through a theft detector
while in Balance Function sounds like something
I might do. :D

Here is the warning in the iBOT manual:

Standard Function vs Balance Function in a bookstore (Part 1)

I started out in Standard Function in this
video. I held the camera directly in front
of my face to show the view I get when I am
at regular wheelchair level. Notice all the
butts? I then transition to Balance Function.
Notice that I'm eye level with standing adults?


Ah come on people! No one wants to tell me
their opinion regarding the 3000 vs the 4000?
I know the 4000 is way uglier, but I'm curious
to know what other people think.

Although I cannot see who has visited my page,
I can see how many times it has been viewed.
It's been viewed over 200 times in the past 24
hours. Surely someone will give me their

I did some video downtown today. I haven't
downloaded it yet though.

Tomorrow I'm going to get together with my
parents and sister and her husband. They
have no idea that I have an iBOT. They're
going to be surprised!

Friday, September 28, 2007


Is it just me, or is the old 3000 iBOT
better looking than the newer 4000?
3000: (This is not me!)


The Honeymoon is Over : (

I'm depressed. Rainy season started today
and I'm really unhappy about it. My one
week honeymoon with the Bot was not long

7 day weather forecast ---> rain. Lots of

At least this winter I don't have to get
my sleeves soaking wet anymore from pushing
myself around in a manual chair. And, for
the first time since I was 8 years old, I
can make use of an umbrella!

Still, I think this is going to be the longest,
most depressing winter of my life. I never
even had the chance to go the the ocean
beaches with it. : (

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More bottin' fun

Spent lots of time bottin' today. I guess the
rain is supposed to start tomorrow, so I best
enjoy it while I can.

I started the day with the usual dog park woods/
beach thing.

As per Stephanie's request, here are some pictures
from the woods. :)

I love making tracks in the sand!

Happy dog on the beach.

After the dog park, I took the dogs home and then
botted up to a friend's doggie day care place. There
were probably about 20 curb corners and about six of
them had no ramps. No problem with the Bot!

Here are some doggies from the doggie day care (posted
just because they're so cute).

Then I picked up the kid from school and we went to
a Wildlife Refuge.

'Twas a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

iBOT changes I'd like to see

The number one change I would like to see on the iBOT


It crawls when it's in Balance Function. I really
dislike this because I love being in Balance, but
it's slower than a person's average walking speed.
Because of it's slowness, Balance Function is only
good for if you are not moving around much, like if
you are at a party, or if you are shopping. I'd
really like to go for a walk around the neighborhood
while in Balance Function, but it's too slow.

Other changes I'd like to see:

It'd be really nice if the battery charger was
built into the iBOT. And it'd be super nice if
there was just a retractable cord that had to be
plugged in. Instead there is this big thing

One cord plugs into the wall. The other cord plugs
into the Bot. To charge it completely takes around
4 to 6 hours. I charge it up at night. So far this
has worked fine, but what if I have an unplanned night
away from home? I'd have no way of charging it overnight
because I don't haul around the charger with me every time
I go somewhere.

I would also like the charge to last longer. I have never
used the Bot all day long yet. I use my manual chair around
the house (because my house is tiny and the Bot is large) and
I use the Bot whenever I leave the house. What if I'm on
vacation and I'm only using the Bot? The charge would
not last all day. Especially if I'm 4-Wheeling through
sand and stuff. When I'm on vacation, I really don't
want to spend time during the day sitting in my hotel
room waiting for the Bot to recharge.

It definitely need some cosmetic changes which I previously
posted about.

1. Balance Function needs to go faster.
2. It would be nice if the charger were built in.
3. The charge should last longer than it currently does.
4. Cosmetic changes.

I don't know why they named the iBOT the iBOT. I get the
BOT part (robot), but not the i part. Because of the i
part, I really think they should throw in an iMac, iPod,
and an iPhone in the deal... all built-in to the Bot of
course. :D

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bottin' through the sand video...

I give up. I've tried to load this video numerous
times and it keeps loading an old video.

Yet another awesome day of bottin'!

At the time of my car accident that left me paralyzed,
I was an 8 year old kid and we were living in rural
Wisconsin. Behind our house was woods. Next to our
house was a lake. It was beautiful and I loved exploring
the woods and the lake. And then the accident happened
and suddenly I couldn't do those things anymore. This
morning I took the dogs to the dog park again and I got
to go through the woods and then stroll down the river
through the sand. I don't have the words to describe
how happy I am to be able to do this.

Over the past few days, I've sometimes been feeling
like I'm on cloud nine. But there is also a sadness
there. There's a sadness for the 29 years that I
couldn't do these things. I feel very detached from
that little girl who had to grow up in a wheelchair.
I look at her and I'm filled with grief.

The other sadness I am feeling is for other wheelchair
users who would love to have an iBOT, but can't afford
to buy one. I need to do something to help other
wheelers get their own iBOTs. I haven't figured out
how I'm going to do this yet, but I'm working on it.

Back to happy stuff. Here are some tracks I left
in the sand this morning.

This is where I made a tight turn.

Here is the woods I go through to get to the river.

I have some video, but I don't have time to post it right
now. I might do that later.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Fantastic Bottin' Day

I took the doggies to the dog park this morning.
Usually I stay on the paved path. Today I put
the Bot in 4-Wheel Drive and I went exploring
on the dirt path. It was so much fun! The path
ended at the river. There was a pretty steep
and rocky path leading to the river. I was
a bit nervous to go down it, but I did it and
the iBOT did great. I even went through soft
sand. Yay! The fact that the iBOT can handle
soft sand thrills me!

After that I had to go to the shop where they
sell wheelchairs and wheelchair vans, etc, as
well as service them. I had to get some tie-
downs so that I could safely travel with the
iBOT in my van. They were ridiculously expensive,
of course. Anyone who knows about the cost of
medical equipment won't be surprised to hear
that these 4 simple lock-down things cost me
$400. It's absolutely ridiculous how expensive
being a crip is. But anyway, most of the people
who worked at the shop had never seen an iBOT
before. These are people who sell wheelchairs
and they had never seen one. I went into
Balance and the owner said, "Whoa, I wouldn't
believe it if I didn't see it myself!"

Then I went to Les Schwab because I needed new
tires on my car. I went in there in Standard
Function and I went to the counter and told
the guy what I needed. When the iBOT is in
Standard Function, it looks just like a regular
power chair. The guy left for a minute
to look at something and while he was gone I
put myself into Balance Function. The poor
guy came back and I think he thought he was
on Candid Camera or something. He stopped
dead in his tracks and his eyes got big and
he kind of shook his head. He recovered
though, and never asked me about it. LOL! Other
people asked though. It's funny how people are
very curious and I know they are shocked at
what they are seeing, but some of them won't
ask me about it. Which I totally understand.
When I was leaving the place I overheard the
people in the shop talking about it.

It's really pretty fun to see people's reactions.
I hope that in just a few years from now they
will be fairly common. I don't think that is likely
though, unless insurance companies decide to
start paying for them. And I don't think that
will be happening. It'll be interesting to
see where the iBOT is in 10 years. Will there
be anyone else making anything similar? What
improvements will be made? I know that manual
chairs have changed a whole lot in the past
29 years. Here is a picture of me in my very
first wheelchair.

What a beast that thing was! It wasn't until
I was a teenager when they came out with the
light-weight sporty manual chairs that most
wheelchair users today have. And now they've
got the super cool titanium chairs.

I'm really getting a kick out of how excited
kids are about the chair. Elementary age boys
in particular are fascinated. They always
say things like "That's so cool!". I had to
laugh today when I picked up my daughter from
school. There were a couple of 3rd grade boys
standing there and I went by in Balance Function.
One of the boys said to the other, "Oh my gosh!
Look at that!" The other boy who had already seen
it last week said, "Yeah, I know. That's so tight."

I have video from my off-road excursion today,
but I'm wondering if anyone even cares to see
it. Tell me if you are interested. Otherwise
I won't take the time to post it.

Regarding the videos from yesterday...

I meant to say this yesterday but I forgot. When I'm
in Balance Function, my daughter SHOULD NOT be holding
on to that bar and allowing me to pull her like she was.
I actually didn't realize she was doing that until I
looked at the video. Luckily she was on wheels herself
and so there was very little resistance there. If she
had pulled down really hard though, the chair could
have suddenly dropped to 4-Wheel Function, resulting
in an uncomfortable bump for me, and I suppose it could
even result in injuring her, which would be the worse
thing in the world.

I had an awesome morning in the iBOT. I took it places
I've never been before, but always wanted to go. I will
post more about it later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Video of 4-Wheel Drive Function

Video of Balance Function


I'm probably going to regret posting this, LOL!

The sound quality is really bad. Basically what
I was saying is that I've had my iBOT for a few
days now. People are amazed when they see it in
Balance Function. Everybody asks me how it works.
Someone once explained it to me like this:

If you try to balance a ruler on the ends of your
fingers and the ruler starts to fall forward, you
move your arm forward to keep it balanced. If it
starts to fall backward, you move your arm backward
to keep it balanced. The iBOT is kind of the same

If you look closely, you can see that the chair
is constantly in motion even when I do not have
my hand on the joystick. It automatically
responds to my body movements. If I lean
forward it thinks it's tipping over forward
and so it moves forward to stop from tipping

The other thing people always ask me is if I
feel safe. Yes, I do feel safe. My daughter
can try to push me over, but she can't. Also,
even if it couldn't keep itself balanced, it
wouldn't tip over. It would just drop down
into 4-Wheel Drive Function. That would be
quite an uncomfortable bump, but better
than tipping over.

The Bot Needs a Serious Makeover

Okay, so there is one thing about the iBOT that
drives me crazy. It's hideous! It reminds me
of the very first wheelchair I got 29 years ago.
It was big, ugly, clunky, heavy... very unpleasant
to the eye.

The iBOT comes with two options. One option is
small or large. The other option is cushion or
no cushion. That's it. Usually when a person
purchases a new wheelchair, they at the very
least get to choose a color.

Have a look at the iBOT:

UH-GU-LEE. The back rest is way too high:

Who designed the footrest? Have you ever seen anything

And could they have designed worse looking
caster wheels?

I don't think so.

But here's my favorite. See that grey plastic thingy
at the end of the left armrest?

Hello? Although I have to admit I find myself
grabbing it once in a while, that thing had to
go. I remember the very first time I saw the
chair. One of my first questions was, "Can that
ugly cheap grey plastic thing be taken off?"

I removed it today! Check out how much
better it looks:

I took the headrest off as well, but I can't
get that stupid grab bar off:

I've been told that they are coming out with better
looking casters and footrests next year sometime. I
don't know if I can wait that long. I saw a picture
of a guy with an iBOT and he has some sort of black
material covering it up. He's made some other mods
as well, and his iBOT looks great. I'm going to have
to figure out some things to do to mine.

They really need to design something more
like this:

Yep they do.

She may be ugly, but I still love her.

The Bot is Fixed

A tech drove down from Seattle yesterday to clear the
wrench. The iBOT is now back to the way it's supposed
to be. The tech also installed new software so that
in the future the wrench can be cleared remotedly. He
was here for only about 45 minutes. I'm very
impressed with IT's tech support. : )

One of the tires needs air. I'm going to get a gauge
and pump today so I can get that pumped back up. I'm
going to try to do a video later today regarding the
Balance Function.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day 3 With(out) the iBOT

So, um, I had a little problem with the iBOT last night.
It's a long story, but I will say that it was 100% user

I didn't get to use the stair function to get to my
daughter's classroom last night. But again, it was
100% user error.

Yes, the chair did tip over. It was in stair function
and it was only doing what it was told it should be doing.
No, I was not in it at the time, no one was injured,
and the chair is going to be perfectly fine (I think)!

A series of events due to stupidity and stubborness
led to the mishap. When something like that happens,
the people at Independence Technology want to know exactly
what happened and so the chair gave me what they call a
wrench. Basically they need to get infomation from the
iBOTs "black box" and then they will clear the wrench.

I just got a call from the tech who is going to clear
the wrench. He said he'd be here tomorrow to fix
things up. I'm completely impressed. I called
them and told them about the incident only a couple
of hours ago. They're sending a rep down tomorrow,
on a Saturday, from Seattle, to fix it. I've heard
the customer support and service Independence
Technology provides is exceptional, and now I know
it's true. They will also install new software so
that if something like this happens again in the
future, they'll be able to clear the wrench remotely,
rather than send a tech out. And guess what? They
won't charge me anything since they needed to come
out to install the new software anyway. Yay!

I'd like to reiterate that Indpendence Techonology
is in no way paying me to keep this blog and say
nice things about them and the iBOT. Everything
I write here is entirely my opinion. So far, their
product as well as their service has far exceeded
my expectations.

Here's what the wrench looks like on the LCD:

And this is from the manual:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Day 2 With the Bot

And I'm still loving it!

Botted up the the school again to pick up the kid.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way home and
I was able to reach the top shelf. That's something
I've never done before.

Pretty soon I will be going back to school where I'll
be going up to the 2nd floor. Woo-hoo! I'll post video

Great youtube video

I just found this on youtube.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My very first outing!

Wowee wow wow! Oh my gosh, it's so great! I'm
really, really happy with the Bot. No buyer's
remorse going on here!

I spent a good 5 hours in it today. About 1:30
I left to pick up my daughter. Her school is
about a 3 minute car drive from my house. Although
I could push myself in my manual chair all the way
there, I've only done that once because it's a killer
on my shoulders. Today I drove the Bot there.
I started out in balance mode, but it was just too
slow. I don't remember what the top speed in
balance mode is, but I think it is about 3mph.
So I went down to standard function. I think
top speed for standard function is 6 or 8 mph.
I didn't go that fast because I didn't want to
run over any small children or anything. I
probably went there at a speed between 4 to 5 mph.
It was a beautiful sunny day and it was so incredibly
nice to not drive in my car to pick her up. I can't
even tell you how fantastic it felt... Okay, so
then I got to the school and I went into Balance
Mode. That's when the crowds gathered. All the
parents and the kids thought it was super cool.
Parent's jaws were hanging open. Kid's eyes were
popping out of their heads. Normally I don't
like attention, but I was really happy to show
it off. A few people had seen it on TV, but
most people had no idea such a thing existed.
People were in awe.

After talking to people about it for quite a
while, I put it into 4 Wheel Drive and I went
through the field. That was great. It was
a bit bumpy, but not too bad.

Then my daughter and her friend and I went
to the Farmer's Market. I was in Balance Mode
and I saw a few people I knew and they were
very excited for me. Most people didn't pay
much attention - to my surprise. I heard
people talking about it and some people said
things like, "That's really cool" to me and
"wow!", but mostly people didn't seem to even
notice. One thing about getting this iBOT that
had me concerned is that I thought I'd be a
freak show everytime I was in Balance Mode,
but I didn't feel weird at all. In fact, I
felt LESS weird than when I'm in my manual
chair because I was as tall as most of the
adults. THAT was major cool. Oh man, I
can't get over how nice it is to not be
at butt level! Another thing that was neat
was being able to see things better. For
example, we stopped and got some goodies
at a bakery booth, and I could easily see
the things displayed on the table. I could
also talk to the vendors without yelling
to them, and that was great. I wish I
could describe better what it was like.
I just don't have the words to explain how
wonderful it was.

Okay... after that we walked my daughter's
friend to her house. At one intersection
there was not a curb cut, so I put it in
4 wheel drive and I went down a curb! That
was neato. I didn't have to go looking
for a driveway or a different corner with
a curb cut.

So then we hung out in the driveway at my
daughter's friends house for a bit and I
went back into balance mode and I rocked
back and forth and I spun in circles. It
spins in a very tight circle when in Balance
Mode and I made myself dizzy. I kind of
felt like a little kid spinning in circles.

We headed for home after that. I showed
it off to some neighbors. One of my
neighbors really wanted to see me go up
and down stairs. I don't have the technique
down quite yet, so it was bumpier than it
should have been, but I did it. Here are a
few photos of me going up the neighbor's
front steps.

Here I am preparing to go up the first

I know video would be nicer here, but I haven't
figured out how to upload a video yet. I will
soon though!

In this photo, you can see the tires in front
going up and over the back tires which then landed
on the first step.

And in this photo you can see the wheels have landed on
the first step.

I'll be going up a flight of stairs this evening and I'll have my
daughter do a video of it so I can post it tomorrow.

The following photos are in Balance Mode.

I do think the Balance Mode is my favorite feature.


Time of arrival - 10:15 am
Weight - 287 lbs
Height - 48 inches

Pictures to follow.

Currently in active labor

Breathe Shannon, breathe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Delivery delayed

until tomorrow morning.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The need for the iBOT on Thursday

Hopefully things will go as planned and I will get my iBOT tomorrow. This is just in time for an "open house" in my daughter's classroom on Thursday. My daughter attends an old elementary school that does not have an elevator. Her classrooms have been on the main level up until this year, and so up until now, getting to her classroom hasn't been an issue. This year she is upstairs. Parents are invited to see the classroom, meet the teacher, hear about the curriculum, etc. sometime near the beginning of the school year... this year it will be on Thursday of this week. I'm so happy that I'll be able to go! Without the iBOT, I wouldn't. My daughter is really happy about it too. I just hope I get the stair climbing technique down by then because right now it still takes quite a bit of effort for me to do it. There is a technique and once I figure that out, it will require little effort on my part. I was
hoping my daughter's dad would be able to come and he could assist me if needed, but he has the flu! Isn't September early for the flu?

BTW, in case anyone who is reading this is thinking, "Why not just ask to have an elevator installed in the building?" The answer is, I tried that years ago. There's simply no money for that. Period. "Reasonable accomodation" does need to be made though. I could have asked that they move my daughter's classroom to the main level, but both the 5th grade teachers have been in their classrooms for years and I wasn't about to ask them to do that for me.

Which reminds me of something else I wanted to mention. Most people assume that every public place is wheelchair accessible. NOT TRUE at all! If I had a nickle for everytime someone has said to me when I question accessibilty, "Of course they're accessible! They have to be, it's the law!", I'd have enough money to buy two iBOTs. Or, at least dinner. For one. At Taco Bell.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is this really happening?

A person who I cannot thank enough has sold me his used
iBOT. I take delivery of it on Tuesday.

I am extremely lucky to be getting this iBOT. $24,000
(the cost of a new iBOT) is something I could not
swing. Due to not having the opportunity to use his iBOT
much at this point in his life, and wanting to see someone
getting a lot of use of it, he has sold me his iBOT...
at a price I can afford!

As far as I know, there are only about 400 people in the
world with an iBOT. The #1 reason for this is that
not a whole lot of people can afford to buy one.
Most insurance companies will not pay for one. Medicare
says it's a "luxury", and other insurance companies
follow what Medicare does. The iBOT is an amazing,
life changing chair. It sickens me that the only thing
standing between the chair and people who would benefit
greatly from using it is money.

The opportunity to purchase one used is very rare.
The one I am getting is only the second used one
to be sold. The other one was sold a few months
ago. It was sold on eBay. The reason that one was
sold was because the iBOT user died. (The iBOT was
not the cause of death!)

So like I said, I am feeling extremely lucky to be
getting this iBOT. It kind of feels like I'm about
to give birth! My gestation period has lasted
about 8 years. : D

I'm feeling rather anxious. I've wanted this
chair for such a long time and now I am only
days away from getting it. I'm trying to not
get too excited because I don't actually have
it. I haven't even seen it yet. I totally
trust the man who sold it to me sent it in
working condition, but I hope that it didn't
get broken in shipment. Please send good
vibes my way!