LIVING: My power wheelchair empowers me
Because of my power wheelchair, I am able to continue my photography with images captured in my own neighborhood.
I am able to be a member of the church choir (two blocks away) and belong to a book discussion group at the library (one block away).
I am able to go to the bank (two blocks away) and the post office (less than a block away) and when I can afford it, my favorite coffee shop (four blocks away).
I am very careful not to ever expose my chair to inclement weather.
I actually asked for a scooter, not a wheelchair, but that request was overridden by my former doctor who knew I had recently wrecked my car and said scooters turned over more easily than wheelchairs.
He also told me that if I changed the request, it would slow the process down for several months.
This doctor also requested attachments to elevate my feet because of edema. These I promptly removed because I could barely navigate doorways and furniture in my house without them. I could not manage any doorway with those in place. I was never fitted to this chair nor given any training on its use. The first six months I had it, it sat in a shed below my second story apartment.
When I moved to Douglas in July 2012, it was no longer working. That was because the 1-acre bare lot in front of my house that I lived in before that move covered all I owned with a layer of silt. Now the chair is well-worn and really needs replacing. I am told I abused it by taking it outside where I hit something and got it wet. I hit many things learning to use it inside my tiny Bisbee house, including my own feet. Both big toes are badly mangled.
With my Parkinson’s, there are still times I can actually walk unassisted, but my balance is very precarious so these are very short stints. Also, previous fall injuries and continuing sciatic nerve problems make walking on hard surfaces such as cement very painful. I swim laps at the local aquatic center several times a week in hopes of prolonging the use of my legs.
However, as the disease has progressed, there are several times every day that I could not get across the room without this chair.
My medicine is nearing maximum dosage yet the time it makes my body function is growing shorter.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions you might have for me or to share your experience with any handicap.
Ann Widmannworked at community weekly newspapers throughout the state of Arizona for 27 years as a reporter, photographer and editor before taking an early retirement in 2005 due to Parkinson’s. She currently resides in Douglas, Ariz. where she pursues writing and photography.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is made possible thanks to the support of an anonymous sponsor from Sierra Vista.
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