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Thread: The story of my new wheelchair

  1. #1

    The story of my new wheelchair

    My Perfect Wheelchair
    By 55

    This story is based on real characters (well, almost) but the story itself is pure fiction. On the other hand, it could have been true.

    A while back, Flora, my wife, hit it big in our Educational Lottery here in South Carolina. She had a $50,000 number, leaving us about 15 grand, give or take a couple after taxes. Since we always share our luck, both good and bad, half was mine. We agreed that it was time to splurge and spend the money on something we wanted. She decided she would upgrade her .38 revolver to a 357 and put the rest in a travel fund so she could take off and visit more civilized parts of the country when the natives start to get to her. After some serious thinking, I decided I would get a top of the line new wheelchair. My last top model was an E&J Premier back in the 60s. That was right before my wife and I got married, and before she inserted a budget into our relationship.

    Because I have been in this Forum for a while now, I knew exactly what I wanted. A rigid titanium frame, high fiber seat and back, Squabble 175 psi tires, and Road Toad shocks in front. The real killers will be wheels with Spunweb spokes made from the web fibers of the Golden Orb spider. It is the strongest fiber known to man and the golden sheen would be perfect. Besides, the fiber is natural and spokes would be a “green” statement.

    I went to the Cane Enable Medical Supply store and had a friendly talk with Harvey. He was all excited because he never had an order for high end wheels. Among his peers, this was like selling a Lamborghini. Ordering took longer than I thought it would because I had to spell half the words for Harvey. That was okay. After all, it was a South Carolina school he graduated from. He was also excited because this was a cash deal. He’d get paid in the same year he sold it and wouldn’t have to do the paperwork over 3 times. Needless to say, I left with my fingers crossed, and that ain’t easy for a quad.

    It only took about two months for my Toilite to arrive. I went over early Friday afternoon to pick it up. I wanted to get the basics set up at the Cane Enable’s workshop, and then I would just have to tweak it over the weekend. Besides, they had this so-called tech, Bucky, who was an ex football player. He could just pick me up and set me in the chair to test the setup, and put me in and out as needed. I won’t bore you with the details because things went pretty smooth other than the cheap B & D compressor blowing apart when they tried to pump up the Squabbles. We finished in about an hour. The Toilite felt a bit awkward, but I think breaking in a new chair is like breaking in a new pair of shoes. It takes a while for it to really feel comfortable.

    When I got home, Flora came out to help me get the chair out of my van and into the house. When she saw it, her brown eyes opened in awe. I did not tell her about the $750 I blew on the custom paint job – navy blue with a gold splash finish - our school colors. The glistening Spunweb spokes set it off just like the pearls do Flora’s little black velvety dress that she likes to wear when we go to fancy restaurants. “My God,” she said, “can we just leave it in the livingroom? That’s a piece of art.” I’ll bet if I used it up at a Pitt football game, they would let me sit with the cheerleaders and put the TV camera on me.

    It was close to suppertime, so we did leave it in the livingroom. After I ate, did some chores, and got the dishwasher door unstuck, I was really beat. I started thinking about getting to bed, and the phone rang. It was Billy who lived two doors away. He asked me if I wanted to go fishing with him in the morning. I had not been to the lake in a while and was tempted. I declined, telling Billy that I had just got a new set of wheels and wanted to spend some time getting the feel of it. “Hell,” he said, “we can break it in just as well fishing.” That tipped the argument in his favor, and I agreed to go.

    I was up early and got some breakfast while Flora slept in. Then I made a couple PB&J sandwiches and got 2 liters of Dr. Pepper out of the frige. I just got everything out to the garage where my tackle was when Billy pulled in the drive with his pickup. My chair caught his eye right off. “Damn,” he said, “that paint job would make them NASCAR boys jealous. No gun rack, though. I’ll work on that.” Billy threw my tackle in the back of the truck where Ralph, his Bluetick hound, was standing guard, and I wheeled over to the passenger door. Billy opened the door, grabbed hold of me, and tossed me on the seat. As usual, he plopped my Roho cushion on my lap. I can transfer in and out of most vehicles, but with the oversize tires, the seat on Billy’s 4WD seemed about four feet off the ground. Before I could instruct him on how to pop the wheels off my chair, he had grabbed it, and with one hand, tossed it in the back of the pickup, where it landed on its side. “It’s a scrawny thing ain’t it? Don’t weigh hardly nothing.” In a minute, the diesel was clattering down the road. I made the mistake of glancing out the back window of the cab. There was Ralph, chewing on my coated rim like it was one of them rawhide bones. I also noticed that the chair had bounced into the corner of the truck bed.

    The dock at the lake where we fish from is only about a 45 minute drive, but when we reached the turn off, Billy kept going straight. “What are you doing? You missed the turn,” I yelled, trying to overcome the blaring radio.

    “We are all right, Billy replied, “ I thought we would go to a hole at the river bend where I used to fish. We ain’t caught nothing at the dock the last three times we been there.”

    “But I am in a wheelchair,” I protested.

    “No problem,” Billy said. “There’s a path to the spot. We’ll get you there.”

    What could I do? I just hunkered down in the seat and cupped my hands over my ears to shut out that awful 100 db Nashville sound blasting from all sides. Country music went downhill fast after Hank Williams, Sr. got killed in his Caddylac.

    Finally, Billy pulled into a small cleared area on the side of the road. “This is it. The hole is only about a hundred yards down that path,” he said,“ pointing into the trees.”

    I didn’t see any path. There were plenty of trees decked out in kudzu. He got out and Ralph jumped down and followed him around to my side of the truck. I heard a quick scrap and then recognized the sound of my wheelchair slam against the ground as Billy readied it for me. I got my door open and handed him my cushion, which he plopped onto the chair seat. In a matter of seconds, he semi-dropped me on the cushion between the armrests. I grasped the rims, first grabbing onto the chewed, slobbered section that Ralph worked on, and then the other that had been scuffed from the chair sliding around on the truck bed. Well, maybe that would give me a better grip. Billy proceeded to pile the tackle boxes, bait bucket, and most of the other stuff on my lap. Then he fixed the spinning rods upright between my knees and fixed them in with a bungee cord he had in the truck. He stuffed my lunch and Dr. Peppers in a backpack that he slung over one shoulder.

    “Ready?” he asked. Not waiting for an answer, he grabbed at the back of my chair. He then cursed the person who did not put push handles on it. Of course, I did not tell him it was me. It was long tile hallways and paved parking lots that I was thinking about when I speced out the chair. He then decided he would drag my chair backward by the grab bar on the back. Maybe it was best that I did not see where he was taking me. As he took off, the front wheels raised off the ground and we were moving.

    I heard a rim scrape past a rock and began to wonder how my very costly Spunweb spokes would hold up. With all the bumping and bouncing, it was hard to fix my eyes on anything. If we were on a path, it probably had been used last by some Cherokee hunting party before the settlers came.

    “Hold on,” Billy yelled, “we’re coming to a tree trunk.” My Road Toad shocks in the front did not help in this situation. As I landed without a parachute, I prayed that the titanium frame was as strong as claimed. I know I bottomed out on my Roho. That ain’t good for my skinny ass.

    “Easy,” I yelled back. Regrettably, I was facing away from Billy and my yelling had no effect. The
    chair squished as we went through a mud puddle, and then we slowed.

    “This is as far as the path goes,” Billy muttered. “ The last hundred feet are going to be a bit rough.”

    It took real muscle to get me through the brush, vines and rocks. I got my Gamecock cap knocked off once when a branch Billy pushed aside and then let go whapped me. From the way the side of my head smarted, I knew there had to be a welt. You would think that Billy would have apologized. No…all I got was, “You should have ducked, you dumb shit!” Like I have eyes in the back of my head?

    Finally we came through the tree line and I could see that we were on the sandy river bank.
    “We are here. Man what a purty sight.” Billy eased the front of my chair down and turned it around so I faced the river. I had to admit, it was a nice spot and looked like it had potential. If I were a fish, I would have hung around there. Billy put his backpack down and warned Ralph to stay away from our lunches. He unloaded the rest of the gear from my lap and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his shirt sleeve. “Whew, that was work. I hope you can wheel yourself back to the truck when we are finished. You musta gained some weight.” That was Billy’s sense of humor. At least I hoped it was.

    “Let’s drown us some worms,” Billy said as he arranged our rods by the bait bucket. He quickly threaded crawlers on our hooks and was about to hand me my rod: “Do you want me to cast that out for you?” Billy is too kind hearted at times. He knew I had mastered a two-handed cast with my spinning rod that would go 75-100 feet easy. He saw me do it a thousand times at the lake. Now putting a live crawler on a hook is another matter as far as this quad is concerned. I can do it but I can’t remember when I had my last tetanus shot, so it was best that I swallow my pride.

    “Billy, I came to fish…not watch you,” I protested.

    “I know, I know, you’re Mr. Independence,” he taunted.

    We started fishing, and it seemed like a great place. We were at a bend in the river where there was a slow current that brought our bait back toward the bank. However, noon came and I only had a couple nibbles. Billy did catch a carp about 18 inches long and threw it back. “I’m not taking garbage home,” he muttered. We took a break to eat our sandwiches. Billy made one last reach into his backpack and pulled out a package of Little Debbie Golden Cremes, and shared them with me. Knowing how well he liked desserts, I took that to mean he was feeling guilty about the lousy fishing.

    As I bent over to pick up my rod, I noticed that it was getting pretty warm. “It won’t be long till I have to get in the shade, Billy. You know I don’t sweat right and can’t take the heat like you do.”

    “You know, I was just thinking the same thing,” he replied. “I believe I can fix that.”

    I gave a yell as Billy grabbed my chair and pushed me out into the water until it was almost up to my seat. “What the hell has got into that red neck mind of yours? Are you crazy? I can’t even swim.”

    “Just cool it,” he said rather calmly. “The water is cool and every now and then you can reach down and splash some on you. With your feet in the water, you probably won’t even need to do that. If you get hot and can’t handle it, I’ll take you out. I wouldn’t risk taking you back to Flora dead.”

    “Gimme my damn rod,” I muttered.” I knew better than to pick a fight with Billy when he was my only way out of the water and back to the truck.

    With the extra adrenalin pumped up by my anger, my casts were probably going 25 yards farther than before lunch. It did not make a difference in my luck. It was getting around three o’clock when Ralph suddenly jumped to the edge of the water and stood alert, looking in my direction. He gave out a little yip and that caught Billy’s attention. “He must see something,” Billy offered. At that moment I thought I saw my bobber start jiggling off in a distance. Finally I was going to get a strike. My attention was now focused on the bobber.

    I have a very active startle reflex and when Ralph let out a loud “owooo” and jumped thrashing in the water, I almost took a nosedive out of my chair. He swam past my chair and when about 15 feet in front of me, he thrust his head into water and came up with a snake in his mouth which he had grabbed behind the head. Billy had seen the action and already was dragging me to shore. “Damn, I forgot about the cotton mouths,” Billy said. We both watched as Ralph violently shook his head up and down, swimming toward the shore at the same time. By the time he got to shore, that snakes head was just dangling from the side of his mouth. The snake was a good 3 feet long. Finally, Ralph sort of spat it on the ground and stood back watching it.

    “Billy, you damn near got me killed. I’ve had it. Let’s get the hell out of here.” Billy knew I was mad, and we had a quiet trip back to his truck. He plopped me in as usual, and I noticed the sand that had settled into my shoes. Even worse, I saw my chair as Billy tossed it into the back of the truck where Ralph was waiting for another rim to chew on. After a moment or two, my mind did a reverse. “Go to it, Ralph,” I thought, “any dog that saves my life is welcome to my handrims. Just don’t bite into one of those Squabbles.”

    It was late afternoon when we headed home. This time I was glad for the blaring music because I did not have to talk. We were about a half hour from home when Billy slowed down and then pulled off and parked in front of the Igloo. The Igloo is a watering hole named after the fact that it was the first place along the road to have air conditioning. “Let’s have a beer,” Billy said, “I’m really dry.”

    I looked at my watch and saw that it was getting late. “I told Flora I’d be home for supper. We don’t have time.”

    “You got your cell phone. Call her and tell her we will be a bit late. A beer won’t take long,” he argued.

    A beer would taste good, so I did call Flora. It was not a problem for her so Billy got me out of the truck and into my chair. We got inside and there were a number of people sitting around. I pulled up to a small table along the wall and Billy went over to the bar to get our beers. Just as he put the beers on our table, a couple guys Billy knew came in and stopped to say hi. Then Billy started to tell them about our lousy fishing and about Ralph killing the cotton mouth. A couple guys at the bar overheard and the stories started pouring out from all sides. Then the “sympathy” beers started coming. Sympathy beers are what I call those that are sent over by someone who tells the bartender to “take one over to that poor bastard in the wheelchair.” I know we have to draw the line somewhere, but not at free beer. We lost track of time and when I finally glanced out, I noticed it was dark already. Ooh shit.

    I managed to get Billy out of there and head back home. I was trying to think of something to tell Flora. Well, it wasn’t so much about what I was going to tell her. I always tell the truth. It was more like trying to figure out how to word it. When we pulled into the driveway, I noticed that most of the lights were out. That was somewhat of a break because Flora was likely already in bed. The more serious business would be put off until morning...at least that’s what I thought. Billy managed to get me out, and of course, I declined his offer to push me in.

    As Billy headed over to his house, I headed for my ramp in the garage. My front wheels just started up the incline when I got the feeling that I fear the most. It is wave-like, starting at the bottom of my chest, travels downward, and ends with a gurgling sound that gets amplified by my Roho. Double ooh shit! This was no ordinary wave. My AD sweating outbreak indicated it was a tsunami.

    I should have known better. I have a 3-beer limit. It is not because I get drunk, but more of an intestinal thing. One over the limit will start things moving, and with the free beers, I probably had at least a half dozen. For a few moments I just sat there, totally disgusted with myself. I was jarred back to alertness by a ripping sound and then putrid aroma that floated up. Then I heard a drip and looked around. Arrrg! It was dripping from my cushion onto the concrete floor. I could not go into the house that way and had no choice but to pull out my cell phone and call Flora.

    After a couple rings she picked up the bedside phone. “Who is it,” she asked in her half asleep voice.

    “It’s just me.”

    “Oh my God, you were in an accident. Are you hurt bad?”

    I should have expected that, but what could I do? “No, I am out in the garage. I’m sorry to bother you but I really need a little help. I explain when you get out here.”

    “In a minute,” she replied, little calmer. The kitchen door open and she started down the ramp toward me dressed in her bathrobe. She was about halfway down the ramp when she got a good look at me…and the wheelchair. “Oh my God, hon, what happened?” she asked.

    I gave her a two sentence explanation of fishing in the river and too many beers but was careful to omit the part about the snake. She just stood there for a minute as sadness reflected from her brown eyes. Now a lot of guys have told me that they would expect a tongue lashing from their wife at about this point, but Flora is not one to kick you when you are down. With us, if I am hurting, she hurts too, and vice versa. That’s just the way it is with us.

    “You just stay here,” she said almost whispering. “You can’t go through the house like that. I’ll pad the bed and then put some old towels on your other chair. We’ll get you in it and you can take it from there. I’ll be camping out on the sofa bed tonight.”

    It was as good a plan as I could have come up with, so we went to it. It was a struggle to transfer from one wheelchair to the other, but with a little boost from Flora and the extra adrenalin running through my system from being angry at myself, I made it. As you can imagine, it was a long, long night for me. I know it will be a long time before I ever get complacent about counting my beers again.

    It was mid-morning when I awakened after getting a couple hours of sleep. Apparently Flora had been in the room because there were some clean clothes neatly hung on the back of my wheelchair. It was a slow, arduous job getting up feeling like I had been turned inside out. Eventually I got myself out to the kitchen where Flora was reading the paper and sipping some coffee. She put down the paper and looked up with a smile. “Good morning, fisherman. Coffee?”

    “Please,” I replied.

    “I see you had your usual luck. I did not find any fish with your gear. I don’t know how you guys could spend the whole afternoon and evening telling stories about the ones that got away. I’ll give you guys credit for being a creative bunch.” I guess she had the right to rub it in a little bit. “Now about your chair…”

    She had hosed it off and scrubbed it down and left it out in the sun to dry. It was early afternoon when she brought it in and I had a chance to assess the damage. She did a good job of cleaning it up and I noticed the lemony smell of her dish washing detergent. Right off, I could see that the navy blue and gold paint job also included flecks of silver-gray unfinished titanium. Strips of black plastic covering were hanging from the hand rims. When I pushed the chair around to look at the other side, I could hear the sand grinding in the bearings. The wheel rims were chinked all over, but the Spunweb spokes looked as good as new. I’d like to get a look at one of those spiders. They must be one tough bug. Overall, it looked worse than my 6-year old Quickie. Obviously, the axels and bearings were destined for a short life. There was not much I could do other than to clean as much sand as I could from the rear wheels and lubricate them. Harvey is going to have “the really big one” when he sees the mess.


    When you finally have your dream chair, you cannot just write it off because its break-in ride turned out to be a misadventure. And how could a guy who is all dinged up and wired and screwed together blow off a wheelchair just because it had some hard knocks? I decided I would use it for work the next day.

    In a way, I was glad no one noticed when I wheeled to my office…at least they did not comment or stare. I dreaded the possibility that I would have to explain how the chair got in the condition it is in. It certainly would have detracted from the professional image I had been trying to project and build for the past eight years. My sense of security was short-lived, however.

    It was about mid-afternoon when my boss came into my office. I never looked forward to being with him. He is an okay boss as far as bossing goes, but he is a classic type A manic. He is about as animated as anyone can be and when he starts speaking, he does not seem to pause long enough to take a breath. When he says his piece, he stops abruptly and you know he is expecting you to speak with the same gusto. I hate that because I am rather soft spoken and compared to him, I sound like a recording played at a slow speed.

    He needed information from a project I had worked on and I had to get a report from my file cabinet, which was next to where he was standing. As soon as I started moving toward the file cabinet, the soft grinding noise made by the sand in the bearings could be heard. When I pulled out the report and looked up, I saw his eyes were on my chair. Before I could close the drawer, he started:

    “I can’t help but notice your chair It looks like you could use a new one Are those things expensive I’ll bet they are It’s a damn shame Maybe you could use a little help I know you got your pride but I could get my assistant to start up a collection Maybe we could have a fund raiser Yes, maybe a staff picnic where everyone could donate to your wheelchair fund We are always collecting and giving to others Why not one of our own I smell something Do you think we have a mold problem here Do you smell it I’ll get maintenance to check it out We wouldn’t want you to get sick or something You’re probably more sensitive than most people Huh….”

    You get the point. By then, I wished I had closed my head in the file cabinet drawer. Years of image building down the tubes because of a beat up, lemony (I hope!) smelling wheelchair. I will admit, I was not very productive the rest of the afternoon. I spent most of my time staring out my window. I still faced at least one more chair-related event. I had to figure out a way to tell Flora about the snake before she got it from Billy’s wife. It would not be easy because I needed to do it in a way that would not endanger Billy’s life or result in my fishing license getting slipped into the shredder. I did learn from this however. My next chair is going to be a run-of-the-mill Quickie or Invacare, or something.

    The end
    Read about the Golden Orb spider here:
    You will find a guide to preserving shoulder function @
    http://www.rstce.pitt.edu/RSTCE_Reso...imb_Injury.pdf

    See my personal webpage @
    http://cccforum55.freehostia.com/

  2. #2
    what a tale! i hope that moccasin was fictional embellishment...
    i believe you are my new favorite writer, 55+,
    that was a treat to read.

    favorite lol bits:
    'Cane Enable Medical Supply',
    'spokes made from the web fibers of the Golden Orb spider',
    'Among his peers, this was like selling a Lamborghini.'
    'Of course, I did not tell him it was me. '
    'If we were on a path, it probably had been used last by some Cherokee hunting party before the settlers came.'
    “Go to it, Ralph,” I thought, “any dog that saves my life is welcome to my handrims. Just don’t bite into one of those Squabbles.”
    'I always tell the truth. It was more like trying to figure out how to word it.'
    'I did learn from this however. My next chair is going to be a run-of-the-mill Quickie or Invacare, or something.'

    wonderful story, well done!
    my confession: i'm still using an old e& j metro and a quickie w/c found in a community thrift store because of similar issues with high tech chairs...
    i can still stand and transfer and even take a couple of steps, though.
    please post more stories, i really enjoyed this.

  3. #3
    Thanks for sharing! Very clever, funny, and entertaining!!
    The IceDragon Avatar best represents my constant Freezing yet Burning Pain...not to mention all the other sensations that come with neuro pain

  4. #4
    Moderator jody's Avatar
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    what a great story. I have been wanting to go fishing. this should be publish in feild and stream.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Timaru's Avatar
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    Thanks, I enjoyed reading that.

  6. #6
    an enjoyable read. thank you

  7. #7
    Senior Member canuck's Avatar
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    Fantastic

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Wow, if your short stories are this good, then one can only imagine what your plays are like.

    Great job! Hopefully you will share many more tales with us soon.

  9. #9
    Moderator jody's Avatar
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    more story hour!

  10. #10
    great story 55

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