Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The Next Big Thing

It's day two of Ice Bucket Challenges. It amazes me how willing people are to become involved in this, and how much they want to spread the word about ALS. It humbles me to see what they are doing simply because they know me or simply because they know someone else with ALS. Today I will go to Associated Grocers here in Calgary where, with any luck, CTV will film five or six people getting iced, and raising money for ALS.

Even getting to go is a terrific thing. While my arms are weakening, I can still drive. I will continue to drive as long as it is safe, for as long as I can safely manage the wheel and the controls. I don't know how long that will be, perhaps six more months, perhaps less. The thing that will really be the determiner is not likely to be my ability to control the truck, but my ability to get into it safely.

The lifting and driving system for my truck is a complicated mechanism. It's all mechanical with electric winches and push button controls. There is a lift seat that rises from the floor level of the truck to the height of the truck seats. The seat itself folds down and back up, so you can have it when you need it and when you are driving it neatly tucks in beside the truck seat. Behind the seat, in the back seat of the truck, is a lift crane that swings out. The crane has a web strap cable system with a hook on it to pick up my wheelchair. Once attached to the chair, the strap winds up and lifts the chair. Then the whole crane arm swings back into the truck, wheelchair attached.

The lift seat that takes me up does not come quite down to the level of my wheelchair. There is about a 2 inch rise from my wheelchair to the lift seat. This means I must lift myself up that last little bit when I transfer from the wheelchair to the lift seat. Once I am on that lift seat, it's all good to go; it's just getting there that is the last physical hurdle for me.

If I fail anywhere it will be around having the strength for that last bit of transfer, that last couple of inches that I have to lift. I am heavy; as my arms weaken I am less and less able to make that lift. It takes far less work to drive my truck than it does to make that lift. If I have to give up the truck, it won't be because I cannot safely drive it; it will be because I can no longer make the transfer. That's the next big thing.


  1. This mechanism sounds really cool. Next time you're at Ed Ctr, I'd like to make a video of this process and you can upload to your blog for visual people like me :)

    1. I will come down and see you guys in early September, just when all the fun starts! :)

  2. I'd love to see a few pics/video of this system as well!

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