Thursday, November 30, 2006

Going with the flow...

The house – Neil has been spending every spare moment at the house trying to get things ready for the elevator installation.  Framing the shaft is complicated by the fact that vacuum pipes, water lines and electrical wires need to be moved.  Though it seems like a long, arduous process, we heard the other day of a man who has been waiting a year to modify his house for his elevator installation!  A few months seems high-speed in comparison!  Ideally we would be able to work on the renovations full time but somehow Neil’s full time job keeps getting in the way!  These are good days to “go with the flow”…

The rowing machine – Mike’s assessment went well.  We assumed that he would be doing the actual assessment on the rowing machine but all they did was attach the electrodes to his legs to see how much movement they could get.  Apparently you work your way slowly up to the using the machine.  They seemed positive about getting Mike into the program but we haven’t heard any more details since then.

The power chair – right now Mike is trialing a power chair here at the apartment.  A couple of chairs were brought to our house and Mike narrowed the search to one which was brought here to try downtown and at the university.  Once the chair is ordered, we will sit down to talk about vehicles. Though Mike’s primary chair will be his manual chair, having a power chair will be a necessary back up, especially for school.  One down side is transporting it.  A manual chair can be taken apart and put into most vehicles.  A power chair cannot be taken apart, therefore, the need for a vehicle becomes critical.

School – Mike has decided to wait until September to take more classes at the university.  A number of factors have influenced his decision i.e. no vehicle, he is learning how to maneuver in snow, we don’t know when we’ll actually be moved into the house, etc.  It’s one thing to get to classes on time but there will be note taking, assignments, research, etc. and Mike faces a new and often slower way of doing things.  Most people with his type of injury will take a year for “transitions”.  By September, some of this will be old hat!

Other than these highlights, we keep pluggin’ along!  Mike continues to charm others with his smile and generous nature.  Now if only he was better at cleaning up the kitchen….

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Rowing Machine

Michael has been on the waiting list for the FES machine at the Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta. The FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) is a specially adapted rowing machine which uses electric current to stimulate the legs of those with spinal-cord injuries allowing them to get a good cardiovascular workout. Mike can exercise the upper part of his body but this would allow him to work out his lower limbs. Because the waiting list is long, we were excited when Mike’s name came up. On Friday he will go to the University to have an assessment and we will see if he qualifies and if so, what his schedule will be.

Winter weather has taken on a new meaning for us this year. Wet, slushy snow means wet, dirty wheelchair tires which means a wet, dirty car and trunk, not to mention wet, dirty gloves and pants! Even plowed roads and shoveled sidewalks can leave deep ruts and inches of snow to maneuver. If Mike doesn’t use his “road” tires, the smooth tires of his wheelchair give no traction. However, the road tires soon balloon up collecting snow in all the nooks and crannies. Thankfully we have a lot of tile at the house because a carpet would soon carry a wheelchair tire design (much like Matt’s house is getting when Mike goes to visit!).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Finally a report!

My apologies to those of you who still faithfully follow this blog! It has been awhile since I have written.  The last few weeks have been somewhat hectic and action packed to say the least!  For us as a family, we have sold our house in Lac La Biche and had the movers come to load up our “stuff” (after 27 years we certainly have accumulated lots of “stuff”!) which they deliver at our house in Sherwood Park today.  Neil has been hammering out concrete in order to put a new foundation down for the elevator.  He still has to cut out the cement in the wall of the garage for the elevator door and build the shaft before they can come and install the elevator.  Meanwhile, he is also hammering out the cement in the bathroom so he can re-pour the floor with a slope for the wheel-in shower.  We will enlarge the bathroom, re-do the plumbing and tile the whole room.  This seems like a daunting task and it is!  Contractors are hard to find because the construction business here is booming but if anyone knows Neil, they know he is made of “why pay someone else to do the job when you can do it yourself”!  I’m hopeful that we will be living in the house by Christmas…

Mike finally had his drivers test and passed!! Now he starts the next leg of the journey which will be to get a vehicle.  We are certainly more conscious of the weather and the fact that it’s been cold and the snow is staying on the ground means wheeling outside isn’t always easy.  Hats off to those who faithfully shovel their sidewalks!  Mike continues to have “firsts” - the most recent being a fall from his wheelchair.  He was meeting someone at the university and took the LRT.  While getting off the train, he misjudged the gap, jammed his front tires and fell forward.  A couple immediately came to his aid and he was up and wheeling within minutes but it was a humbling experience.  Mike took it all in stride and his comment was “Well, I’ve gotten that out of the way and it wasn’t so bad!”  Having the ability to laugh at yourself and take life in stride is one of his greatest strengths.

One thing I have noticed throughout this experience is the strength of the bond between the brothers.  Steve and Mike talk regularly on the phone (sometimes for hours!) and Matt will often come to hang out with Mike when he is not in touch by phone.  They look forward to living together again once we are all settled at the house in Sherwood Park.  It feels good to know there is strong “cement” holding this family together!