Sunday, December 29, 2013

Give Me Strength

My power chair Saga continues. I was really hoping to hear back from my durable medical equipment provider about repairs to the seat base of my wheelchair which I broke a couple of weeks ago. As of last Monday there had been no progress made regarding its authorization for repair. I remembered the last time I had this problem with the broken riser arm that I had the boys at U C A T just weld the piece back into place. So I called them in hopes their technician was working and I would just have them weld the piece again. But of course the holidays is no time to try to get services from State agency. It seems any and all folks are combining their holiday time in any Annual time they may have. I cannot fault them, I remember when I was a state employee I did the same thing and who knows how much consternation I caused folks who desperately were trying to get information.. By Christmas Eve I had not received any calls to the many requests I left. It was during that time a light bulb went off in my head: why don't I just take my chair to a welding shop and have them tack the arm back in place. At this point I was getting pretty stir crazy being trapped at home. So on Thursday I began checking out welding shops in my area. Of course many of the smaller shops were also closed until after the new year. I finally found a larger shop said they could do the work if I gave them an hour lead time. I sat on this information remainder of the day and decided the next day, Friday I would drag my chair into the shop and have it do the weld.

I discussed I need to give my chair into the shop with Dianne who was more than willing to do the driving. We decided that it was probably easier for everyone involved if Dianne would just take the chair and I would stay home. She had a full afternoon running around and errands to do. But it all worked out perfectly. She dropped the chair I did some errands and was called within an hour saying chair was done and she could pick it up any time. I was astounded when she brought chair home and I witnessed the excellence of the work performed on the power chair. And even better they did this work free of charge! Why had I waited so long to have this problem rectified? Seriously I think I lost more than two weeks of volunteer work and the physical workouts because my failed chair in my failed actions to take charge. This is a lesson that I continually receive and I do not seem to learn this lesson.

Odd as it is I didn't use my chair the day following its repair, electing to stay in my manual chair as we the family spent the afternoon brainstorming some problems of repair the household. Today however I did mount up and headed out with the family to do some shopping. The tilt mechanism on the chair worked perfectly and this weld job was much better than the last. It felt great to be back in my chair and back in control of my life. However, I have detected a weird popping noise from my front left castor and I'm sure the castor is worn out and needs replacement. So it's back to either the shop or U C A T to see about a replacement. I plan to drive this chair as much as I can in the interim. It just never stops. But I'm going to see the bright side of this challenge and be thankful for my health, my family and when I have because I do have a whole lot going for me.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hang Time 2013

Once again I find myself in the “Hang Time”, that period of time between Christmas and New Year's. Typically I have had enough Annual to be able to take that time, those days, as annual leave and not work for the entire week. Now that I'm in retirement it's weird this hang time feels altogether different. Before retirement the time between holidays or more accurately between work periods felt pressured. I don't think I really ever enjoyed that time because I was always sweating the return to work, particularly when I was manager of Access Utah. I always seemmed to have a board meeting to return to after the holidays or something. I would come in to the office rushed, having to make/print agendas, minutes of the last meeting and anything else which mght needed to hand out to the Board. If this stress was not enough there was always the underlying stress usually all through the holiday of having this return to work trauma. It's really weird now in retirement there is no stress, and never returning to work unless you count what I do is volunteer which is not work at all.

And no longer do I feel I have to cram as much living recreating into a period of days and feel bad even guilty if I waste some of this precious “vacation” time. I am enjoying, really enjoying hang time this holiday season, getting up when I wake up not getting a because I told myself to get up at a certain early hour. I make appointments for things I need to do not things I have to do because of the job– I truly am working for myself ,really kind of enjoying myself, perhaps for the first time.

I keep looking at the calendar reminding myself that this is the hang time in the calendar and not just days on the calendar,the days on the calendar just do not m mean what they used to. I used to fixate on the day that Christmas or New Year's with fall-on trying to figure out which holiday would be the longest depending on where it landed on the calendar I. E. Sunday holidays were longer because you got the day afterwards as a holiday too and this seemed to make a difference during work time but not now. I would suffer a small feeling of loss when the holiday would be over saying goodbye the free time enjoyed for a short space. This feeling is similar to waking from a nap,the feeling is almost physically painful to have to go through the waking process again. Closing the holiday was like saying good bye to an old friend you did not want to leave. Now all my hours are precious even more so, because all the hours really do belong to me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


This last week was the Christmas/holiday party for the local independent living center, the facility where I worked for nearly 20 years. Somewhere along the line I started becoming the Santa Claus which would appear at these functions can have some candy canes or whatever facility came up with. Odd that even after my separation with the independent living center, as an employee, I'm still tapped to be the Santa every year. I don't have a problem with being St. Nick especially when I worked with the state and was able to take the time as part of my job function I. E. Community relations. Being St. Nick is easy duty. I just have to show up dressed in suit, provided, and pass out whatever they want me to pass out. The clientele is changed significantly over the years from folks with primarily physical disabilities to folks with developmental disabilities and some emotional disabilities which is cool because the Center has always been a cross disability project. However for whatever reason the phy/dis folks just about stopped coming but still fun.

This year is the first year I performed this role as a retired person. It's a bit different or it was this year. This year the Christmas function happened on the same day a fairly significant snowstorm chose to wander through the valley. The snowstorm was actually preceded by an ice storm which did a number on a number power lines in the Salt Lake area. Of course the independent living center was without power when we arrived. I should note great thanks to Dianne who drove me to the function and stayed with me for the entire event. There is no way I was going to be able to use public transit with a snow day like Thursday and of my chair being as gimped up as it is.

The Center had been without power all night. I was truly surprised there had not been any damage done to the building. But still there was no light and no way to cook the meal that was offered by the center to those who attended. Quick thinking by staff saved the day by accessing the camping equipment. The bill of fare was essentially breakfast: sausage, scrambled eggs and hash browns. Etc. The Santa event was held in the recreation area a part of the building with many great Windows and easily lit by outside light, the show went on. Fortunately for me, because of the snow very few people showed, comparatively speaking. We seemmed to be in and out that's all right by me.

This is the first year, as I said, I did the Santa gig and not charge the agency I happen to be working for at the time. This year my being Santa was truly a gift from me to the Center. I hadn't really thought of that until now as I write this and I guess it does make me feel sort of good. I kind of wish more the old clients, staff and community professionals who used to attend would've been there. I do miss them many times is the only time of the year I catch up with some of these people and I must admit that I don't get to see them I miss them in my holiday is a bit less. Who knows? Maybe next year I will see some of the folks I missed this year. Either Way, Merry Christmas!

Dianne and me

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Do I Feel Lucky?

Blog 1218 2013 – – Wednesday

Dianne picked up my power chair this afternoon. It actually looks great for partial repair. Installed new tires with much more tread than I was using and the hangers and been replaced, leg hangers for foot pedal hangers. I'm thinking this will greatly add to the usability of my chair and I should be okay as long as I don't tilt the seat back. I think I can cruise this way until I get word on whether or not the insurance will cover the cost of a new seating device. I've been doing some checking on, the local online classifieds page hosted by the local CBS affiliate. They have a complete medical section with a list used medical/health equipment. They have lots of chairs. So I've noticed a number of chairs similar to mine, they have tilt systems very similar but not exactly like mine. my insurance will not cover a new tilt system then maybe I can scavenge one of these at a much lower cost. They may even have one over at U C A T if I'm lucky and I'm beginning to feel lucky.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

`More Wheelchair Challenges

Once again I am embroiled with my durable medical provider in a battle to fix my power chair. I have never been so stranded in my power chair as I have been this year. Last week as I was traversing to and from my appointments in my power chair I have been stuck at least four times in snow and ice. I have been stuck at curb cuts where snowplows and dumped quantities of snow which has turned to ice making their use and possible to wheelchair users such as myself.

Last week while coming home from my Wellness workout I was trying to navigate down the strip of sidewalk by the local 711 where I catch my bus. The snow had not  been shoveled from this strip of sidewalk and in the late afternoon slush and ice I became stuck. I sat there waving my arms trying to rock my chair back and forth in an effort to free myself from the freezing slickness. While I was rocking the proprietor of the 711 came out and tried to free me and at the same time Two or three people stopped and also entered into the challenge. It was a major struggle to free me from the ice. Two guys on the back of the chair and one person on the front pushing and finally I was freed. I  left the sidewalk and got back on the street which had been freed of snow and ice and was able to get home. It was only then, at home, I realized there was something wrong with my chair when I tried to tilt in place that the seat was pulling  to the left. I knew immediately one of the tiltiing arms of the seat mechanism had snapped. Obviously the break happened while the good Samaritans were yanking and pulling my chair in the ice flow. I don't know what else I could have done at that moment. The damage is done and all I can do now is make arrangements to drop my chair off at the wheelchair shop and start the process. It has been nearly a week now and I spoke to my technician today and they really have not done any work on the repair waiting for me to get them the authorization to contact my insurance provider to see if the work recovered. Of course this will take time and I just have to accept that and I have. Luckily, if I don't tilt in place I should be okay. This will be a challenge but at least I will have transportation in my chair and I can make some of mine usual appointments. So far I've missed a couple of wellness workouts and my Monday volunteer experience at 211. I have to admit the stress of a broken chair is not nearly as bad in retirement as in worktime.

Now, the second challenge is trying to bring my new manual chair into some sort of usable condition. This chair, this new chair, has been a major thorn in my side. The wheels will not stay on, the chair is really too long for me to use in my lifestyle and the cushion is to large for me to independently transfer onto. I am now in the process of contacting my primary therapist and the durable medical rep to set up a meeting to see if we can figure out a way to make this chair usable to me. The major problem of this new chair is that I have to use my insurance to make the purchase and I only get so many chairs in the five-year period. I cannot order another at this point in time so I need to make this other manual chair work. I foresee problems on the horizon. I'm cool I can survive this I just hope my butt can. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Dad

This is one of my favorite images of my dad. A young man just entering middle age probably 40 or 39. He is pictured beside his service vehicle for Boise Heating and Equipment company a company he worked for more than 30 years. Among other things my dad was a card-carrying member of the sheet metal workers union. He was a union man, I don't really know how he felt about being in the union but I know he was a union guy. I remember only one labor strike my dad was involved in. It really did not seem a big deal of time, the strike but I guess it was. I don't know if his union got the demands they were striving for but he was out of work for a couple weeks it seemed.

As an old guy now I look back at these pictures altogether differently than I did decades ago. Knowing what I know now about work, individual, parental and personal responsibility this image tells me  much more now than it used to. The company trusted my dad to drive this truck, take the truck home and kind of care for it as his own. I remember two trucks my dad used and obviously a third exemplified in this photo. I wish this image was in color I'll bet the pickup is cherry red as was the panel truck and Ford Econoline van he drove in later years. Of course dad never used the service truck for personal convenience. My dad always worke " on call” meaning he could be called on any time day or night weekdays or weekends for service work. I often rode to work with my father dropping me off at school before he reported to shop for the days calls.

I look at this image and see a guy with a steady job, a good job, blue-collar but good honest work that brought home enough money to pay the bills, feed the kids and live a lower middle-class life. I once asked my dad what he had wanted most in his life and he said something like he would've liked to been a farmer or rancher. So he settled for 40 hours plus a week being a service worker plus the owner of a small 14 acre farm. The farm was half pasture and half crops usually corn or alfalfa. We did have a small 
( large if you had to weed the garden yourself) garden space attached to a small raspberry patch. We flood irrigated the farm once a week during the summer and milk cows every day of the year. We sold milk to the neighbors and to the dairy. We milked anywhere between five and six cows twice a day. We were nothing but industrious. We also maintained a fairly large woodpile made up of scrap lumber be harvested from knocking apart wood shipping crates that furnaces would arrive at my dad's shop We would knock the crates apart pull out the nails that separate the lumber into boards which could be used in building and pieces so damaged they were only good for burning in the furnace. I remember the woodpile being huge.The wood pile was large enough to have tunnels, spaces in the piled wood perfect for forts. My brother and I often played or hid the wood pile.

My dad looks confident in this image I envy him that, I don't think I've ever felt as confident as he looks in this one image.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let Caution Mark My Way

Blog December 11, 2013 – – Wednesday

The weather has been monstrous the last couple weeks. We had a midsize snowstorm two weeks ago followed by dangerously frigid air. The first day after the storm of course as of Monday and I had to go into 211 to volunteer for my shift. I actually got caught in snowdrifts three times so severely that I had to rely on others for pushing out of the snow. I was okay though and was able to make my appointments that I have to admit I was a bit shaken and have began to a little in my veracity survive the elements as I used to. I have continued though to venture out in the cold. I am wearing socks every day however and I've defaulted to my giant jacket.

The storms of the past, no new snow but now I'm having to contend with the vicious aftermath and the Arctic temperatures. The streets and sidewalks downtown of course you no problem. Snow removal has been good and sidewalks have been cleared to all destinations I interested in. It's when you get out in the residential areas that snow removal becomes iffy. In many places there's been no snow removal at all on sidewalks forcing me to roll in the streets which is okay if I leave early in the morning are traveling between rush hours. Of course the snow plows, as always, has pushed the snow and ice into the curb cuts making accessing sidewalks and crosswalks challenging at best. Case in point yesterday morning, midmorning I was bound for my Assist, Inc. meeting and caught my front casters in the snow ice flow coming off the sidewalk crossing State Street and 5900 S. I actually sat in the curb cut trying to rock my chair free of its icy grip. It was only again, after three people saw me struggling and stop their vehicles got out and pushed me free of the ice trap. I was truly grateful. I don't know what's going on with me I used to have contingencies for these kind of situations. I just don't anymore and that worries me.

So now I am traveling more cautiously I will not push my luck by crashing through the ice flows like I used to. I travel with a cell phone that I can reach you try to go wherever I go in daylight. If I travel after dark I just am more careful and doubly cautious. Such is life after retirement.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I don't know if it's retirement, age or a long life with this ability but I feel I'm slipping, becoming soft am looking for the easy way out. Snow fell during the night, not much less than 2 inches but enough fell to cover everything was frozen whiteness. Of course the snow is followed by freezing temperatures. I was listening to the radio this morning at seven o'clock and the high of the day had been reached and it was 27°. Shamefully I must admit I was happy to hear my friend David, at Assist, Inc. canceled this morning board meeting. There was a time when I did not think twice about suiting up and headed out to a meeting or function I was supposed to be at. I even look down on those able-bodied folk who did show up to a meeting most likely because the weather.

I prided myself on making these events but nobody else did. Perhaps, it was the only way I look better than other folks, maybe I needed this false illusion of my validity and vitality. Now however, and retirement, and begin to see things different. I still have guilt for missing meetings that I could've made but elected not to go. I'm a volunteer now, just a ghost of who I used to be. I make the decisions for I will go.

Yesterday I left my tablet at 211. I called 211 on the train on my way homeTo have my electronic found and secured. I told the operator I spoke with to give the equipment to Sarah who I'm sure will take good care of the device. Now I just have to man up, Dress-up and headed to the city to pick tablet. I had almost decided to blow off my workout session today but I really would like to get my tablet . It is a shame how dependent I've become.

So, I need to get dressed get something to eat, warm, head out into the storm, snow. 

Monday, December 02, 2013


The month rolled over to December this past holiday weekend, the whole  Christmas thing is kicking in. Today is warm, a day before the storm, tomorrow should be seriously cold with snow. I have Assist.Inc and Wellness--I don't know if I will do any. I may just sit the storm out. There was a time I could not do such a thing. I felt too  responsible. I felt I was criticle--not now. I am just a Joe and they( who ever they might be) well get by just fine. The rest of the week is just Wellness and i could stay home and workout if going out in the frozen after storm proves too difficult or dangerous.

I spent  Sunday writing the usual first of the month letters but will not mail till I get some gift cards--tried to get hold of Mark A but was a no go-I must try harder because in the end family contact is my responsibility.
I continue to answer calls at 211 just for the fun of it. Just getting ready for the cold.