Tuesday, 16 February 2016

In And Out Of The Truck

ALS is making it tougher and tougher for me to get into, and out of, my truck. I am now almost completely unable to lift myself that last inch from my wheelchair seat to the truck lift seat. Fortunately Katherine, who is with me almost every time I go anywhere in the truck, helps me with this. She grabs the back of my pants and, when I am ready to do the transfer, lifts me up while I push and shift sideways.

This, unfortunately, is not where the difficulty ends. I'm having increasing difficulty making a clean shift sideways onto the driver's seat. Once again it's about lifting my body and transferring. I can still do it, but it takes longer these days, and usually more than one sideways adjustment is involved. Plus there is the usual nonsense of lifting my legs into place, only it takes more effort with weaker arms.

Adding to all of this are the changes we've made to my wheelchair to make it stronger and to ensure it provides me the support I need. The new X-frame on the bottom, added last year to replace the one which had broken, is not easy to fold. Often it only folds half-way. If I give it a really powerful pull, and the stars align properly, I can mostly close it. But really powerful is not a part of my repertoire these days, so usually I am not that fortunate; it takes a couple of tries to get it to behave.

Never mind the recalcitrant X-frame. We've added the hard back, and it needs to be lifted in and out of the brackets now attached to the handle frame at the back of the chair. There are two pins for the top, and two pins for the bottom. The idea is that you put the bottom pins in first, then rotate the upper pins into the upper clips. Unfortunately my backpack, a permanent part of my wheelchair life, always seems to be in the way, pulling down on the handle frames, making life difficult. Sometimes the back goes in easy, just as designed. Other times, it's not so easy.

So to get into the truck, first I must transfer. Then I must remove the seat back and my cushion. After removal of these parts, which I fling into the truck to rest on the console, I must fold the chair. With a few attempts at folding, it's ready for pickup by the lift, and in it goes. Then I can finish getting in.

To get out of the truck, first I must transfer to the lift seat and lower myself. Next, out comes the wheelchair, sometimes easily, in fact most times easily. I unfold it and fight to get the back into position. It's not easy very often. Then my cushion, a simple thing but still, it seems, always backwards or sideways or somehow out of form and needing re-positioning.

With everything in place, I can finish the transfer and, with great effort, lift my feet onto the footpads of the wheelchair, close my truck door, and roll away. It's almost ironic that the easiest part of driving my truck is the actual driving, and the hardest part, the longest part, is getting in and out. Thank goodness I am in Alberta, where it doesn't rain a lot. Imagine all that slow effort in a west coast downpour.

1 comment:

  1. You got guts. Most people would curl up and say I can't do it, I won't do it, I'm afraid to try it. I know you're ready know that, but I thought I'd say it.