Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Time, they tell me, is a precious commodity.

Well, other peoples I guess. Because mine is apparently worth as much as a heap of dung. If I could figure out a way to quit my job and live in a cardboard box (see I'd find it easier to maintain, and judging from the derision heaped on me for **gasp** owning things it's about what I am allowed) I'd almost have to. My job and non-work life cut terribly into the amount of time I have to make phone calls and fill out forms. These things being the expected whole of my existence.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


'Twofer' because I'm posting what would be TWO posts at once here. Or at least they would be teo if I actually was keeping up with my blog. They have a common theme though, so no harm done. Right? :)


This post has been bouncing around my brain for awhile now but I'm just getting around to it. I've recently taken on writing the questions for my teams monthly learning survey at work, so I have multiple choice type questions on my mind. A few weeks ago I was shopping at a local grocery store and had to make a quick bathroom stop. The bathroom door had 3 icon lined up in a row: The first was a pants-wearing human figure. Aah, that would be male then. The second was similar but wearing a skirt. Female then. We've pretty much covered the options (ignoring transgendered folks. Not anything I have much familiarity with ...) But there was a third icon.


It was a figure in a wheelchair. So am I A (yep, seem to meet those requirements) or C (meet those too)? Can I pick TWO answers?

Yes, I know the door designer just was trying to let people know the bathroom had the little things that some folks need to use the facilities for the intended purpose - things like grab bars so you can actually position yourself on the toilet. Seeing the symbols lined up in a single row like that though ...


There is a book called "Black Like Me" that details a very interesting experiment. The author, a Caucasian, went about his daily business in makeup so he appeared Black. He wanted to see if and how he was treated differently than when going through life white. He got a book out of it, but I'm not going to summarize it here. I've been using a wheelchair in public for a few weeks now, which is turning out to be a similar experiment. Two things that really stand out:

1) Some folks see using a chair as a de facto request for assistance.

I'm thinking of an incident last week. I was sitting in my chair at the front enterance to my apartment building waiting for my bus when this guy comes up to me and asks if I'm OK.

Uh, yeah. I didn't say it out loud, but I'm not sure what part of sitting on the front step listening to music on headphones constitutes my possibly having trouble of some kind. Uncomfortable situation. I didn't want to snub the guy. Just said 'I'm fine. Thanks.' and shrugged to myself.

2) Excuse the language (I usually call women just that - women), but the second point that springs to mind as: chicks dig them.

I'm no stranger to inspiring the motherly nurturing side of the fairer sex, but even still the attention I get from women when I'm using my chair is surprising. I figure if I was in the park sitting in my chair with a puppy on a leash and baby on my knee I'd be overwhelmed with attention. And that isn't a bad thing. But it would be nice if some of that translated into something BEYOND just being nice to a guy in a chair.

Because you know, that pants-wearing icon on the bathroom door still applies to me regardless of what I use to help me get around.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I'm looking for a new apartment. It's turning out to be a bit of a pain to haul my wheelchair up and down the stairs. Not as much of a pain as NOT having the chair, but still a pain.

Often I'm asked why I didn't move a long time ago. After all, there are apartments specifically designed for accessability (and more popping up all the time). Many have requirements like this one, which is copied verbatim from the web site of one such complex here in the Twin Cities:

To qualify for one of the units, your household income must be 50 percent or less of the area median income (AMI) of Hennepin County.

I've seen more liberal income limitations, up to 70% of the AMI!

That's closer to the average, but still below it.

Keeping in mind that I have some degree of pride and have indeed held full time, REGULAR (not 'social program to enhance your self esteem' type) jobs pretty much continuously since 1992, WHY IN GOD'S NAME WOULD I WANT TO ***COMMIT*** TO A ***BELOW-AVERAGE *** INCOME?

Not every accessable apartment requires a pledge of poverty, though. Some only ask that one be disabled (guilty!) or a senior citizen (I'm not even close). But I'm not really ready to be put out to pasture yet, so ...

And there is that elusive beast, the accessable apartment that is obtainable without what are quite frankly disturbing conditions attached. To be honest I am often just too worn out/stressed to put too much into searching. Or maybe the folks that apparently believe I just don't get enough pressure on matters like this are correct and I just need to be told to try real hard and put 110% of my energy into begging for handouts ...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Took the chair home Monday. Overall an OK experience, but I don't think I'll be doing it again after this experiment. Just too akward getting it from the front door to my apartment. Plus I never realized how hilly it is around where I live. Somehow it manages to be mostly uphill both ways. Not that downhill is a piece of cake.

Aside from the hills and the stairs, though, the experience had a lot to recommend it. I've said it before but this time I'm speaking from first hand experience - the phrase 'wheelchair bound' is nonsensical and not fit for intellegent conversation. Because I was using a wheelchair I was able to cross a busy street - a few, actually - without incident. I haven't done that in years. How exactly does this constitute being 'bound'? Without the chair it did not happen.

I tipped once and (in a seperate incident) ruined one of my favorite shirts. A trip that took 2 hours on foot (when that was an option) took 6. I'm actually missing work today because I only managed to sleep a little after I got back. Too adrenalated but at the same time over tired.

Sometimes ya just gotta learn by doing, though. And it felt good to in a way blow a raspberry to everybody who would have me live like some sort of invalid.


Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've been using my wheelchair at work for a week now, and for the most part I really like it. Doors which open away from me still give me trouble, but I otherwise caught on pretty quickly. Monday I'm trying bringing it home with me. Not sure exactly how well that will work out - I'll have to lug it up the stairs - but it seems like it will be manageable.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I bought a wheelchair to use at work.

I purchased it mail order, so I don't actually have it yet. It should arrive mid-week or early next. I'm having it delivered directly to my workplace. Ordinarily work frowns upon getting stuff delivered there but I've slready gotten the OK (and really they were overjoyed that I asked, but more on that later).

The model is an IVC 9000 XT. I pretty much stuck with standard features. The major customization is the frame color - Electric Purple. I'm pretty sure I got the seat size mostly correct, but I guess I'll find out. Seat size is important because too small and the chair is uncomfortable; too large and the chair is difficult to operate.

Why? Well, a few reasons actually. First, it is a major hassle to keep my break schedule when it takes 20+ minutes to use the bathroom (most of that time spent walking there and back). Second, I was beginning to feel that my mobility issues were preventing me from being as successful at work as I want to be. No one was holding me back maliciously or anything, I just feel the easier it is for me to take advantage of oportunities the more opportunity I'll have. Just one of those things.

Third, I think this'll be fun. That's one reason I picked an electric purple frame. Bit more festive than chrome or black. A big factor in choosing the company I did to order from was the customizable frame color options.

Fourth, they are pretty insistant at work that I deal better with my mobility issues than I have been. Partly this is paranoia (I can be a little bit of a liability issue :) ), partly genuine concern that I could overextend myself and get hurt. Strangely enough, the very morning I asked my boss if I could have the chair delivered to work he pulled me aside to voice such concerns. I beat him to the punch though and told him of my plans first. Kind of invalidated most of what he intended to say, but I think he was happy that he didn't need to convince me of anything I had already decided for myself.

That last bit is really important: decided for myself. No one is putting me in a chair. The decision - the entire process - was mine.