Heading for Autumn (September) – part 2

Calendar entries highlighted in yellow


10th September 2009 – A meeting about the stairlift / An afternoon with Kim / A pleasant surprise

I’ve had my stairlift a week already and I have yet to use it once because of the problems I’ve already written about. This morning I finally had a chance to meet with my OT and members of Liftech and Freelift, the companies responsible for installing and manufacturing the stairlift. With me sitting on the stairlift at the top of the stairs I was able to demonstrate to them how unsafe it would be for me to try and stand up with the chair still in the stairwell and my right foot half over the age of the landing. Various solutions were discussed such as raising the height of the top step so that it was parallel with the landing, and building a barrier on one side of the banisters to prevent me from falling down the stairs when reversing back into the chair. None of these half measure solutions appealed to me and I was quite firm in telling my OT that there was no why as I was going to walk backwards and attempt to sit in a chair that was not even on the landing and without the use of my arms to steady myself. The solution we’ve come up with is to extend the curved track by another 350mm so that the chair is on the landing. This additional space should also mean that I will need to pivot the chair less and so it will feel more like I am backing up along the landing rather than off the stairs. The only problem is that the extended track will partially obscure a doorway leading to my study by about 6 inches. Hopefully it will be visible enough to prevent trips. If not we’ll have to erect some kind of guard or barrier for the carers who go into the room to dry clothes so they don’t trip and hurt themselves. I’m told that the extended track can be fabricated in this country (unlike the original curved track which was fabricated in Holland) and that the work should take about two weeks. 

The other problem with the stairlift is being able to control it in a ‘hands-free’ fashion and so far the solution they’ve come up with is to use several switches; one mounted on the stairlift itself and one mounted on the banisters. I’m still not convinced about this and have concerns regarding the fact that the switches are battery operated and send a wireless signal to the stairlift. I’m worried about the battery dying whilst I’m using the stairlift and then being stranded. This one still needs some further work. 

I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with Kim, the newest member to my care team. It was all a bit unexpected really, I got a phone call from the care agency early this morning when I was still in bed and unable to pick up the phone (although I could hear the message being left on the answerphone) to say that Kim was available this afternoon and would I like to spend some of my social hours with her? Well I’ve been stuck indoors so much lately that I’m starting to get cabin fever and the weather has been so nice this week that I’ve really felt frustrated that I cannot go anywhere on my own. Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity so just after midday Kim turned up and bundled me and the wheelchair into her car and we set off for Alresford, the picturesque Georgian town about 30 minutes away. After parking the car and seeking directions from some local market traders we headed for the Millennium Trail, a series of footpaths around the town, part of which is a very delightful riverside walk with overhanging trees providing some nice shady areas. We marvelled at the clarity of the water and the size of some of the fish, and enjoyed seeing so many ducks and swans gracefully swimming by. It really was such a peaceful and secluded area and yet so close to the town’s high Street. Further along the riverside walk we encountered Fulling Mill, a timber framed thatched cottage straddling the river Alre which looked like something out of a jigsaw puzzle. We both stood there admiring it for some time envious of its location whilst enjoying the lovely afternoon sun. Unfortunately (although not for me, he he) the walk ended with a rather steep incline back towards where we had parked the car and I could hear poor Kim breathing rather hard. Strange really, because I didn’t feel worn out all, in fact I could have done it all again :-). 

On the way back home we stopped off at The Grange, near Northington, a partially restored stately home surrounded by farm fields and a river which has now been taken over by an opera company but is still open to the public. Not somewhere you would particularly want to stay very long as you can only walk around the exterior but quite nice to see if you like architecture and just want to enjoy a peaceful break from driving for a while. Anyway it capped off a very pleasant afternoon. The weather had been extremely kind and I had really enjoyed Kim’s company. This had been the first time that we had spent some social hours together and already I was looking forward to the next one which hopefully won’t be far off. I have a very good feeling about her and I think she’s going to become an invaluable member of my care team. Thank you Kim for taking good care of me. 

I had a nice little surprised today when I checked my e-mail, there was a message from Ruth, my MND Association Visitor who had left England to live in the States with her family. I really hadn’t been expecting it and I felt touched that I should still be remembered. But such is the power of modern communications that in this day and age there is no real reason for people to lose contact. Anyway it was really nice to hear from you Ruth and I’m glad that you and your family are settling in and making new friends. Good luck with your US driving test and a hope the move to your permanent new home goes smoothly for you. 

12th September 2009 – A visit to Eastrop Park

I’ve been a bit spoilt this week for trips out of the house. This morning after breakfast Francesca took me to Estrop Park for a walk around the boating lake and park area. Well to be more accurate she was walking and I was taking it easy in my wheelchair which is becoming a regular occurrence as my legs weaken. It was a little chilly to start with but gradually warmed up. We stopped by the lake used for model boats and watched a father and his young son playing with their radio controlled trawler. Suddenly I got an attack of the giggles as I imagined what fun it would be if the lake was full of model boats whilst proud parents and their children stood by the water’s age with control units in their hand guiding their boats around the lake. Suddenly the boats begin to disappear below the water one by one whilst parents and children look on with puzzled expressions. Suddenly up pops a periscope followed by the familiar outline of a World War II submarine. And there’s me sitting in my wheelchair with a radio control unit in my hand and a wicked grin on my face saying ‘next victim, please’. I know, I’m bad, he he smile_devil


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