Thursday, April 3, 2008

The end of ramp gymnastics

They served us well for almost exactly two years. The first challenge after the delivery of my power wheel chair April 2006, was to find the means to get it into the Expedition. Jim went to Lowe's. found him a gentleman who probably knew all there was to know about ramps, and explained to him what his situation was, with something like, "Sir, my wife utilizes a wheel chair, and I have been pushing her in an old used manual wheel chair for some time now because she does not have arm strength to propel herself. We have been gloriously blessed by Medicare with an electric one which has just been delivered. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to get it in and out of the house, and in and out of our vehicle." "Mister, did you see me having some good goof-off time until you disturbed me I am sorry to hear about the situation with you and your wife, and I am more than happy to help you in any way that I can."

The gentleman took Jim over to the ramp section where they sold ramps intended for use in transporting 4-wheelers. Jim purchased the closest thing they had that would result in the angle recommended by the chair manufacturer; this was to the tune of approximately $200. They were too steep. To the drawing board.

Now, I have to tell you something for which I am very proud of my husband of 44 years at that time. You have to understand that I have always been extraordinarily proud of Jim. He has performed beyond his peers throughout his Air Force career, I have watched him climb the ladder of promotions through performance and testing in rapid time; he was genuinely surprised each time, and was always expressing feelings that others were equal to, or more deserving than he. The same was also true in other areas of his life. However, in the mechanical realm, he just didn't get it. This is not to belittle him in any form or fashion at any time. It simply was just not an area he "got." Simple.

So, he returned to Lowe's knowing he needed something at the front door to connect, smooth, the ramps where they met the facing. At the Expedition, he needed to extend the angle of elevation. Now, I'm explaining this, knowing what it looks like, but not knowing exactly how to explain it to you. I know. I'll take a picture in the morning, and post it. He bought a 12 foot by 1.5 inch plank of wood, had them cut it in two, took it to his buddies in the maintenance department at the hospital for them to bore four holes holes for the nuts and bolts to connect to the metal ends he had attached to the wood.

He brought it all home, worked on it out back, and put it all together as he had envisioned it to be, and eureka! It WORKED!

Thus began a unique relationship between Jim, ramps, and chair. It took a lot of times of use for him to finally
feel he was in control of the chair rather than the chair being in control of him. For instance, today he can fold the back forward, the foot rest up, and drive the chair wherever he needs it to go more easily than sitting in it and driving it conventionally. Having this kind of control over this size chair, almost 200 pounds, is no small matter.

Over the past two years the chair has only slipped off the ramps two times, and has never fallen. He has never felt like it was an excessive strain, requiring only a slight nudge to get the chair star
ted up the ramp.

The way he put it all together, I teased him and called it his Redneck ramps. Seriously, he has received many, many compliments from people everywhere, especially between here in Arkansas, and Dayton, Ohio, where we visit our grandchildren. People will stop to offer help, and he tells them he has it down to an art now, and they often stand to watch him drive Oscar into the Expedition. He's quick to tell them about my nick for the ramp setup, and they say, "Well, hey man, it works great!" They are impressed that he thought of it himself. Me. too.

The rest of the family and I have been concerned though, and have wanted him to get some automated ramps, but he has not seen things as we do. I'm just the nagging wife, and when we talk, I give him the respect of the reasons he gives me for not wanting to get into purchasing one right now. That's us. This Christmas, though, our son, daughter-in-law, and my sister gave us ramps for Christmas. After a lot of hard work, Jimbo finally found the perfect match, and yesterday began a brand new relationship among Jim, Oscar, and the brand new ramps.

Though not an excessive strain, and I believe him on that point, Jim was really excited whenever he had to come into the house for something, exclaiming, "Boy, those are REALLY nice! You just barely have to give the chair a nudge for it to start up the ramps."

A great big thanks for all that went into making life just a little bit easier for whenever Jim and I go out. The rest of the family just feels a bit better with cutting out Jim's Ramp Gymnastics! He's just going to have to find another sport. Let's see. What could that be?

Here is Oscar traveling in the Expedition with Christen, watching a movie. He's trying for incognito, but I don't think he's doing a very good job of it.

Striving for a world without Myasthenia Gravis

1 comment:

The Haitian League said...

I can certainly empathize with Jim on his struggles with the chair. I have had MG for 5 1/2 years now and got a scooter a couple of years ago. The first few incidents of getting it into the back of my Explorer were quite an adventure. Once we figured it out however, I can now do it myself (grin). I'm sure people wonder what this guy is doing unloading this big scooter by himself, then getting on it to ride into Walmart (there's are WAY!!! too slow)