What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

It’s another grey windy day but at least it’s not raining.  Out of boredom and, to maybe kick start an idea into my cranial star chamber, I started searching out YouTube for old TV theme songs.  I came across the 1955 version of Davy Crockett.   I remember wanting a raccoon cap as a kid but the real Davy Crockett was a “mountain man” turned politician.  He became a peoples politician  who took a stand along with some other great patriots right up to their deaths at the Alamo.  What has happened to that political commitment.  Anyway that was a fleeting thought meant to keep myself entertained as I hoped a spark would ignite an idea in my head, so lets go.

I find myself facing a new dilemma’s these days that is all based on that old “if I had of known then what I know now” way of thinking.  I had about a dozen surgeries as a kid all with the purpose of walking without braces, new untried procedures at the time, and 4 of the 12 produced the hoped for results.  One of the last major surgical procedures I underwent was a hip fusion of my left hip.

A lot of this was “new” ground for the growing speciality of orthopaedics and was a carry on from new techniques used with WW2 vets.  Medically there has been a tight tie between the veterans community and the polio generation due to the advancements being made in medicine.  My orthopaedic Dr. Vincent Murphy was a retired RCAF pilot and received his medical training courtesy of the military.  He was a good man and played a big role in my life from age 8.  He enjoyed me because, as he once put it, I had attitude and I was always up for surgery.

Polio kids were surgical try-outs for a lot of new techniques and we auditioned for surgical spots in what was called Grand Rounds.  Out-patient Rounds were held every Tuesday at the Children’s Hospital but if your parents got that call for Grand Rounds it was pretty certain you were being admitted.  For Rounds you stripped down for the doctor and your parents, for Grand Rounds you stripped down on an examination table in front of half a dozen doctors, another half dozen interns and maybe a dozen student nurses standing in the background taking notes.  While they are discussing me like a strip loin, I’m sitting there trying to figure out if I will sign up for Monday night copper tooling or take the leather activity again.  Monday nights were Arts and Craft’s night in the hospital. Continue reading “What We Don’t Know We Know…(revised)”

Let’s Talk…

“In the world of words, the imagination is one of the forces of nature” – Wallace Stevens

An epiphany can happen at the oddest times even when you are lying on your back watching your wheelchair scoot away.  Now bare with me for a moment while I throw out a favourite topic of mine but I will withhold my rational for a future thought.  That topic is “words”.  Words are power.  Words are crucial when it comes to shaping the direction or fostering beliefs in society.  I think we just saw that in the Presidential election.  If Geoffrey Chaucer walked into the world today there’s a good chance he wouldn’t understand most of the words we speak.  However words, like power, change and we need to pay attention to those changes.  We have to be aware of how we are using words and the impact they can have on our society.  More on that to come but for now let’s return to my epiphany.

The weather has been a little on the rainy side for the last (well many) number of weeks and I needed to get out to get some water.  There was a time in my life when kidney stones were a persistent and painful issue for me.  These went on for eight years before my doctor suggested I try drinking filtered (not bottle) but water that has been through a reverse osmosis process.  I’ve been doing that for almost 30 years now and haven’t had a kidney stone since.  Maybe a coincidence or luck but it’s working so why screw with it.  Regardless it was a nice coincidence when my son texted me to say they would be dropping by for a short visit and was there anything I needed picked up.  Very timely considering I was just waiting for a break in the rain to go pick up my water.

The store I pick my water up is in a mall about five minutes north of me.  It’s $2/six pack cheaper than the local store right next to me.  If I’m just picking up a few groceries I will wheel over to the local mall and grab them however since I have to use my car to pick up water I will drive to the other mall and pick up a couple of dozen at a time.  I may be a little OCD but I generally get the 500ml bottles since three of those will provide my usual 1500 ml of water intake plus they work perfectly for the configuration I use in my fridge to enhance access.

Two dozen will last me at least 8 days so three or four water trips a month with, on average, a savings of $10/month.  Other factors include reachable space to store the water,  empty bottle disposal (generally hand off a crate full to one of the local dumpster drivers), etc.  I don’t know if that’s my OCD or my propensity for metacognition but on a subconscious level I rapidly analyze the potential outcomes and detail every aspect of a situation including purchasing water.

I asked him if he was coming from the north because I know my grandson goes to school in the south.  A bit of Island philosophy is that if something is more than ten minute drive away, it better be pretty special.  The idea of doing a three hour hike up Mt. Benson or even the five day trek along the West Coast Trail is fine and great physical conditioning which I find very admirable, however driving is a different matter.  I wasn’t sure he would want to go that extra distance based on the limited information I had shared with him.  With that said he told me no problem.

Great not having to go out in the rain is a plus but does remind me why I miss my underground parking in Calgary.  I could get into my car without dragging my feet through puddles and I didn’t have to sweep snow off my car (something that is almost impossible to do from a seated position).  These are the little things you really don’t think about until they stare you in the face.

Another example that even I didn’t recognize until I encountered it, garbage disposal.  I had always lived in buildings with garbage chutes on each floor.  Go down the hall to the garbage closet and drop a bag down the chute.  Much different from carrying out a bag of garbage and trying to maneuver it over the top of a closed garbage bin (traditionally higher than my wheelchair).  I wouldn’t have given that much thought until I encountered it the first time.  In this discovery process you develop “work arounds” and just incorporate it into your daily activities then never think of it again. Continue reading “Let’s Talk…”

The Decomposition of Healthcare…Ripped Apart

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost“… Billy Graham

I started discussing our crumbling health care system in my last post and promised some follow up.  I am basing this on my own personal experience however I can present hundreds of examples of poor medical decisions without searching to far.  I just came across this one while doing some research on the level of homelessness affecting the aging population plus it has a personal overtone to one of my own situations.

This was a story of an 82 year old women who was discharged from a hospital in North Vancouver following cancer treatment for breast cancer.  She was discharged to a homeless shelter, in part, because her apartment was bed bug infested.  That’s an issue that can partly avoided through proper home care.  Having a house keeper come by at least once a week can be a big help but apparently cleanliness and housekeeping are not considered a homecare service.

My own discharge was delayed due to concerns over my ability to live alone.  While in hospital, with a major infection, I was approached by discharged services to see what I could use to make home a little better.  I asked about house cleaning, not an easy task from a wheelchair.  Whenever I wash my floors I have to go back over them with a dry mop to clean up the tire marks left due to wet wheels so house cleaning can be a challenge.  However, based on the current thinking of health “administrators” house cleaning is not really seen as a health “care” issue.  Unfortunately this administrative type thinking is pushed upon the care side of the program…case in point.

In my last post I spoke of my time in emergency waiting to be transferred to an in-patient medical bed.  What I failed to mention was the introduction of the “hospitalist“, a concept I was aware of but have had limited experience with.  Mine (and for protection of his privacy I can’t use his name even though he deserves praise) was a very nice genuine fellow.  I was pretty please since he took time every day to touch base with me in emerg and eventually was able to obtain a bed for me on a surgical unit.  So after three days in emerg I was moved to a four bed unit on a surgical unit.  Hooray I now have a home of sorts.  In a twisted way (my 20% jaded side coming out here) I went from the homelessness of emerg to the temporary social housing on the surgical unit.  Process is process, fill in your own content (I’m suppose to wink here)…

So here I was in a unit with two gentleman awaiting nursing home placement.  I believe they were both victims to dementia but I was the diagnosing person.  After watching for almost four days I must say I am a little concerned about that the future holds for me as far as health-care is concerned.  Some people just are not cut out to work with people and there were certainly a couple that are probably in the wrong field but you get what you pay for and health administrators put budget ahead of quality.  They have been doing that since the mid 80’s with the advent of credentialism which puts a lot of lower paid workers in positions of trust they really are not capable of but it fits the budget.

When you know your history you start to realize just how wide the door was opened for hospital “administrators” following the Susan Nelles case.  Nursing care was put behind administrative accountability, at least that’s the way it has been twisted over the last 30 years.  We now confuse health administration with health care while throwing countless tax dollars at administration.  Anyway back to my point..

cardboardurinalWhen you read countless news stories from across Canada about huge wages and severance packages being paid to health administrator’s you have to question why hospitals are stuck with a budget for cardboard urinals.  I can understand the preference for a health facility to want something like hospitalist, there can be some financial benefit but not as a tool for administration to control bed flow.  The idea of re-using cardboard urinals just pushes the boundaries of the envelope to overfill. Continue reading “The Decomposition of Healthcare…Ripped Apart”

The Decline of the Independence Empire

“Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight” – Marcus Aurelius  

The end of the summer is upon us and fall is definitely in the air.  I know I haven’t published a thing in almost three weeks however I do have eight drafts on the go.  The diversity of topics could confuse the guest announcer at a formal function for multiple personalities so I better get a few finished.  Each is based on recent personal experiences which most people find depressing “small talk” and I can’t blame them.

Many of these personal experiences may be disturbing to some people so I do try to keep these topics out of my day to day chats but at the same time I need to express them.  Those of you out there in the know realize what we are experiencing may sound emotionally draining but try carrying all of that stuff bottled up inside.  So thank you faithful reader, for allowing me the ability to get some of these things off of my chest…

The last two weeks of August were very tumultuous and required some re-examination of some of my core beliefs.  As much as I hate to acknowledge it my ability to maintain my independence may be waning a bit.  For someone whose independence is almost sacrosanct that’s a hard one for me to swallow.  I have been aware of these decreasing abilities for some time now but chose to ignore them.  In retrospect the move from my crutches to total wheelchair dependence happened twenty years ago which is probably the same time some of the doubts I am now facing were planted.

I had a number of incidence in late August that has really brought this home to me.  All of them involved being stuck somewhere without my car and a wheelchair problem.  The last incident involved a flat wheelchair tire.  When you are sitting there with a completely flat tire without my car you can start to feel pretty vulnerable.  That feeling of isolation plus being unable to wheel without potentially destroying a perfectly good $1000 Spinergy Rim wheel was distressing.

Where's the dignity?
When dignity is tied to independence do you stay quiet?

It was probably the first time in my life that I felt truly helpless.  That feeling was fleeting but it had still cracked my psyche.  I have been a survivor for so long that feeling of helplessness was haunting.  After sitting there for a few minutes like an old buck caught in the headlights of that on-coming 18 wheeler it clicked that this was one of those moments when I could actually use my iPhone for the actual phone factor. Continue reading “The Decline of the Independence Empire”

Pissed Me Off, Again

“A right must exist independently of its exercise,” – Rory O’Shea Was Here (2004)

I usually try to be polite and mature in my writings.  I try to be as factual as I can and hopefully eliminate as much of my own bias as possible.  Then there are days like today where I run across a story that just really pisses me off and I need to RANT.  These types of stories are showing up with increasing frequency and they all have a related theme.

12042646_10156796145460571_1826686942731217207_nOver the years I have watched as “words” have been redefined simply by being used out of context.  The context the word usage derived from may have changed altering the understanding of that word.   Definitions from thirty years ago may no longer be valid and yet we continue to build a legislative framework on those words.  I contributed fifty + years of my life to build an inclusive society and I know what the intent of all that work was.  I can no longer sit here like a “politically correct puppy dog” simply because I may benefit from some of these programs while my history is erased.

RANT – A story came to me today about a mother in Smith Falls, Ontario.  She has been tied up in the Human Rights process fighting for the rights of her son with Down Syndrome.  I have included the link to the story but here’s the long and short of it.  Her son is a 52 year old individual who has lived in the community most of his life.  He receives a certain level of support in the community to sustain his independence.

I am guessing mom is in her seventies so not really the stress she needs in her “retirement years” (for the record for some parents of children with disabilities there is no such thing as retirement).  Plus she was absorbing (and she admits a good bit of financial support from friends) that $1500/month additional cost that the government wouldn’t cover.  The governments own standards stated the son could have a home visit from a nurse four (4) times a day but not the fifth time.

To screw around a family for something as simple as the difference of one visit pisses the hell out of me.  A standard needs to be balanced with intent before being denied.  Behind every standard is a “legislative intent“, people tend to forget that.  A standard is simply a way to provide measurement or activity but intent is a way to adjust for circumstances.  Over the years I have watched as “intent” slowly disappears from decision making.  The intent behind home care for independent living is to allow people to stay in their community and that intent should hold some weight when determining needed hours of support. Continue reading “Pissed Me Off, Again”

Social Entrepreneurism (Revision)

“The disabled of tomorrow will be those who lack access to technology today,” Terry Wiens 2001

Today was gorgeous and well worth a good wheel along the water front.  Nanaimo’s 50th anniversary World Championship Bathtub race weekend was going on so the water front was very busy.  While enjoying the sun I came across a gentleman using a Batec on his wheelchair and struck up a conversation.  A Batec is a piece of equipment you can attach to your wheelchair and turn it in to a type of three wheel bike run by a rechargeable battery.

Batec2We sat in the sun chatting for a few minutes while he gave me the rundown on the Batec.  This gentleman has only been wheelchair dependent for nine months, a newbie and is really just learning the ropes.  He did have well developed arms and shoulders so we talked a bit about the long term effects of using shoulders as weight bearing joints.  Shoulders weren’t really designed to work as ambulating appendages and this has to be planned for.  He was quite happy to have the ability to use an electric drive to save on the wear and tear of his arms.  What jumped out at me was the idea of improved access to beaches and forest pathways he spoke of.  This tweaked my interest enough to do a bit of research on Batec once I got home.

I was aware of the equipment but had never seen more than a picture of them.  An old friend of mine, Reg McClellan, had made me aware of them.  An Ontario based medical equipment company Reg is involved with started bringing Batec into Canada.  Reg and I were members of the Alberta Wheelchair Sports team over 40 years ago so he keeps me reasonably up to date on what is happening with new wheelchair gear.  He tells me that to this day one of his favourite speaking engagement stories involved the two of us during the 1978 National Games held in Newfoundland.  Since I helped create the experience but am unable to enjoy the luncheon I get current reports on new technological developments in the world of wheelchairs.

Besides the shared interest in wheelchair sports we also have a mutual interest in entrepreneurism.  We went different directions when we left Alberta, Reg to Ontario and me to BC however social media reconnected us about fifteen years ago.  The two of us are definitely not as active in wheelchair sports as we once were but we are still both active in entrepreneurship.  Batec turns out to be an excellent example of what social entrepreneurism can accomplish. Continue reading “Social Entrepreneurism (Revision)”

The Conflicts of Life

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 1.42.58 PMAnother day of rain which is just fine.  The rain and temperature beats the crap out of the snow and the -30 (or worse) Celsius temperatures hammering the east.

It has been raining so hard here today that the rain is bouncing back up a good four or five feet.  I know it is that high since it is bouncing back onto my face.  Sitting in my wheelchair puts my head exactly four feet off the ground and my low grade OCD encouraged me to use the tape measure to check the height.  Rain provides it’s own conflicting challenges but I have never been one to let a good challenge get in my way.

I say conflicting because I enjoy the rain, not monsoon like rain but rain in general.  There is something very refreshing and meditative for me in a good rain fall.  The down side, needless to say, is getting very wet.  Even using my car can get me soaked.  Transferring from a wheelchair into my car then packing up my chair is not a “quick as a bunny” event.  It takes a couple of minutes and if it is raining hard, as is the case right now, you can be pretty wet even before you start your day.  But hey life goes on and you do what you have to.  Isn’t that the truth of life in general?  There may be conflicts but you don’t ever stop.

Rain or shine I always wear gloves.  Gloves to me are like shoes to most people.  I can’t step over those puddles so I want something on my hands.  Plus, it has been my experience that not everybody picks up after their dogs so you never know if you will wind up wheeling through something you shouldn’t.  I do keep a close eye on the walkway but you can’t spend your life staring at the ground.  You can miss the majesty of the world around you by looking down all the time.

I find the Giro Sports Design fingerless cycling gloves fit my needs best.  They are more affordable than many (not the cheapest but the cheapest wear out in a month) and they have the closest fit to what their actual size states.  I have large hands.  The fingerless makes it easier for fine motor activities while not being an impediment that keeps me from getting my hand firmly around the push rim of my wheel.  I don’t wear them for warmth, I wear them for a cleanliness and grip.  Your rims can get a little slippery when your hands are wet so gloves contribute to brake control.  Unfortunately they are not water proof and no matter how you approach it they still get soaked.  When gloves get wet they are harder to get off when wet but by having them sized properly they are easier to get off. Continue reading “The Conflicts of Life”