Monday, October 31, 2011

My New Chariot!

Finally received my chair last week yet I haven't had time to share any information with you. Now that things have quieted down I can show you what it looks like and tell you a bit about it. It's the same type of chair I had before they call them "mid-wheel" as the drive wheels are the large ones which are located dead center.

This type of chair is outstanding when it comes to maneuverability, it can basically turn on a dime since when you turn one drive wheel goes forward while the other one turns in reverse. They are not that great outdoors in the winter and are useless in the snow yet for me the ease of maneuvering in and out of public washrooms, our condo, shopping malls etc. definitely make up for the shortfalls. With everything going electronic today it's no surprise that the controls for the chair are electronic as well however an LCD display? While I have just received it I cannot wait for my new chair by that time it will probably be able to climb stairs.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay

Hello everyone,

I'm sorry if I haven't posted anything for a while we've been kind of busy.  Approximately 8 months ago I entered a contest, a chance to participate and be one of the medal bearers for the Rick Hansen 25th anniversary marathon across Canada.

Several weeks ago I received a call,  I had been chosen as one of the medal bearers.  Not having used my manual wheelchair for quite some time meant I had a fair amount of work ahead of me.  I tried and tried, although I did make progress it fell far short of my expectations, luckily the group representing Rick Hansen were there to lend a helping hand.

I have never had the opportunity to be involved with a group so organized and devoted to their cause it was humbling.   They made me feel as if I was someone special from the very beginning right to the end and then some.  They went above and beyond what I expected in terms of support, assistance and follow-up for my portion of the relay.

As mentioned soon after I heard of the news I took out the old manual wheelchair and started practicing.  I took several falls which set me back yet I tried to pursue in order to build the strength in my arms too overcome the distance assigned to me in this relay.  Honestly, I could not have completed this relay without the help of the volunteers and my spouse which you can definitely see by watching the uTube video links attached.

On the morning of the event it was rather chilly and I over did it in the dressing department.  Looking like the Good year blimp or the Michelin Man you pick however I had so much clothes on me it made it difficult for me to wheel my chair.  Even though I had practiced and practiced around our buildings it was impossible for me to move beyond a few feet and this you can see in the video.  Grateful for the help I received by the members of the Rick Hansen group and my spouse I am even more graceful for the support I have received from my friends.

I once read that a man should count himself lucky if he had one trusted friend well this event proved to me that I not only have one yet several.  One family member I never expected to see showed up and I am forever grateful for her support, thanks Suzanne.  My childhood friend Raymond showed up with Lise, as well as Pierre and Danielle.  And get this, which is in my opinion unbelievable, a friend from Toronto drove up especially for the occasion.  I was flabbergasted, Mr. Michael Dwyer you are the best!

All in all it made for quite a day getting up at 5:15 AM returning home after celebrations on Parliament Hill at approximately 7:30 PM we were spent and went to bed almost immediately upon our arrival.  I trust you understand why I haven't posted these past few days. I've attached some videos to give you an idea of the relay. I trust you enjoy them.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My relay experience number one

There are so many things to say as a result of my experience today.

However the day started very early this morning around 5:30 AM and just ended at 7 PM wrapping up the festivities on Parliament Hill.

Pictures will follow soon.

Thanks to the organizers of this event, to my friends who came out and supported me and to Mike who drove from Belleville Ontario just to see me at this event.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Something funny in the midst of all of this.

Not having used a manual chair for so long I was very concerned with the distance to cover.

Granted 250 m may not sound like a lot yet I needed to be certain of what I was facing so I had my spouse take our van and measure the distance around our building.

This way we would know exactly what I'd be up against.  It would also tell me based on my practice runs if the goal was attainable.          She spent most of the day yesterday running errands, visiting her mom in a long-term care facility, her sister etc. etc. by the time she got home she was tired.   The last thing she wanted to do was to get in the Van to utilize the odometer and come up with a visual reference for me.

Of course she did it yet she had enough of her day and just wanted to settle down.  After driving around our building she was able to tell me exactly where my starting point and end point were located which relieved me.

So I went out and completed half the course before I had to call home so she could come and get me, my arms could not take doing it twice  in one day.  Later that evening after dinner while playing with my newfangled electric wheelchair I found a handy feature, "A Resettable Trip Odometer"

We both had a good laugh.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Working out for the Relay

For the past few weeks I've been busy trying to exercise in the hopes of building some muscle mass, enough to provide me with the strength required to complete my portion of the Rick Hansen relay.   First of all, being in a manual chair is quite an adjustment it literally has been
years since I have utilized one.

So for the past week or so I've been transferring to my manual wheelchair with the help of my spouse.  Strapping on all the belts and buckles  ensuring I wouldn't simply drop out of it and land on the ground.   Over last several weeks we've been getting a lot of rain, practicing outdoors was virtually impossible.   I would take the elevator to the basement and practice in our underground garage.   The first night I did 9 1/2 lengths or so, my knuckles were bruised one of my thumbs was bleeding yet I felt good being able to propel myself for that distance.   It has to be close to 100 feet, I'll let you do the math if you're so inclined.  I'll take a guess at 32.7564321 m X 9.5 LOL

I was certain the second night would be much better except the transfer didn't go that well.  I fell on the floor in our bathroom and had to rely on my spouse and one of our friends to lift me a few inches onto my lift chair "converted bath lift".

By the time I transferred to my chair I was wasted and so was the evening this zapped all of the energy I had thus no practicing that evening, with nothing left but a bruised ego.

The next day it was still pouring rain my hopes of getting outside were dashed.  As I looked outside wondering what it would be like on pavement.   It took some doing yet I made a decision to write a letter explaining to everyone why I would not be able to complete my portion of the relay.  It was a difficult note to write and it literally ripped me apart.   My next step was to call my contact in Vancouver and explain to her "voicemail" that my efforts had not yielded the the desired results thus unless I was permitted to participate using an electric wheelchair or to have someone near me to help if I required help I would not be able to attend.

Her response was quick, without hesitation. They were there to support me, if that meant using my electric wheelchair then so be it they would accommodate me no matter what.

I did not expect this response not after spending time to write a note informing everyone that I couldn't make it.   Not after looking outside at the miserable weather and thinking what a fool I was to even contemplate my participation in this type of event.

The moment she uttered "we will support you no matter what" well that's when I lost it.   I sobbed like a kid and was virtually unable to complete the phone call except to utter the  words, I will be there.

This means the note I prepared advising you of my nonparticipation will never be sent, instead I was able to go out today with my spouse beside me.  Managed to wheel myself around our building and then some.   If I cannot propel myself the entire distance I will rely on my best friend, my spouse to give me a hand.   After all my affliction with MS has affected her just as much if not more than it has affected me.  She has been there every day in every way possible the least I can do is have her by my side doing what she does every day, helping me accomplish things I cannot do on my own.

PS: By the way, I did receive my new wheelchair I will be taking some pictures and posting them on my blog after the relay.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay

French translation follows

I am pleased to inform you that I will be a Medal Bearer in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay.  It is quite an honor to have been selected for this special occasion quite humbling actually if you consider the total team will consist of only 7000 Canadians.

 My portion of the relay will take place on Correction its October 26 at 9:53 AM and not November.

Starting from rue pointe gatineau I will propel my manual chair to the McDonald's on greber boulevard.

Each medal bearer is assigned a number, look for this on the Route Markers for the start of my relay segment.

My number is MB064-012

There is no cost to come and see all I'm looking for are a few familiar faces to help me along as I make my way participating in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Hope to see you there…



J’ai le grand plaisir de vous announcer que je participe au 25e anniversaire du Relais de Rick Hansen.  Avoir été choisi porteur de médaille est tout un honneur  d’autant plus que le total des participants se chiffre à 7000 Canadiens.

Ma section du relais consiste à propulser ma chaise manuelle du coin de la rue Pointe Gatineau au restaurant MacDonald du boulevard Gréber.  Le relais aura lieu le 26 Octobre et non novembre à 9 h53 du matin.  Chaque porteur de médaille est assignié un numéro.  Le mien est le MB064-012.   Repérez-moi sur la route du relais et venez m’encourager le long de mon trajet.  C’est une expérience à ne pas manquer.  J’espère d’y voir vos visages familiers puisque pour moi, c’est une chance unique de participer à un tel projet.

Je vous donne rendez-vous…


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Accessibility in Vegas

Our recent trip and my definition of accessibility.

We returned Friday evening, actually it was Saturday morning by the time we arrived at our condo.   All in all it was an enjoyable trip I only wish the weather would have been more cooperative, it rained quite a bit while we were there.  It was actually warmer in Ottawa than Vegas?

The shows we saw were quite impressive I enjoyed "Love" a rendition of the Beatles the most.

As you are aware when you travel with a disability you try and plan for every contingency, everything from accessible tickets for the shows to the establishment you will be staying at. Unless it meets your needs a trip can easily go from excellent to horrible within the blink of an eye.

The onus is on you to be certain your specific needs will be met.  I've probably mentioned this before yet it is worth repeating "do not rely on anyone else to make the arrangements for you."

We stayed at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas and requested a fully adapted room for those with mobility impairments.

They have two types of rooms, we reserved the one with the ceiling lifts in order to facilitate transfers. Transferring at home is not that much of a problem it isn't easy that's for certain yet it is still possible for me to transfer, put me in a totally new environment and it's a different story.

Nothing is the same, everything is placed differently it takes several days to become somewhat accustomed to your new surroundings . 
In order to minimize this period of adaptation I always make arrangements to get the most adapted room available in this instance it was definitely worthwhile.

Several years ago we stayed at the Bellagio, while we had an adapted room I did not make use of the lifts as I really didn't require them yet they were there if need be.

This time around I made use of the lifts for each transfer and it made life a whole lot easier not only for me but also for my spouse. The room we had at the Mirage is so far my favorite, plenty of room and I'll let you judge for yourself by the pictures I've posted.

Needless to say we did not win any jackpots but we did come out pretty even spending more money on tips than we did actually gambling. We took a taxi and visited the South outlet mall I was definitely not impressed yet we can say we saw it and had the opportunity to visit some of the stores.

I've made a video which I have posted on UTube, unfortunately it is not bilingual and at this time only available in French however it is pretty self-explanatory if you look at the video you will see how I utilized the lift in the washroom.


Link to utube

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