Monday, November 16, 2009

Disability Defined - Who Is Disabled?

I am sure there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people around the world who are in the same boat when it comes to disability. There are some who cannot be seen to be disabled, like hearing impaired or people with internal disabilities, like heart, kidney, liver or other organ malfunction. Mental disabilities and so many other kinds of disabilities, that it would be a mammoth task to name them all or to list them all here. Suffice to say that there are some disabilities that are not visibly obvious.

I made the terrible mistake of flying off the handle at some poor defenceless person who had dared to park in the allocated disabled bay. Because I could not see any evidence of a crutch, walking stick or wheelchair I had the temerity to assume that this person was able bodied. Even when this person explained how he was disabled I was loathe believing his explanation.

I have been wheelchair bound for a few years now but went the walking stick, walker and crutches route before I got here. We of the wheelchair, handicap walkers, crutches and walking stick brigade sometimes forget that there are other disabilities than ours and tolerance and understanding should be practised when confronted with one of the many insults and injustices that come our way in day to day life.

Since being confined to my chair I have tended on occasion to expect people to know how to handle me and my situation and get really annoyed when people don’t offer assistance. Sometimes they just don’t know what to do and need to be guided by us. Unless they have experience with disabilities and the disabled they won’t know how to handle us, or could be afraid of the unknown as it were.

Now, to take a leaf out of my own book I try to keep my anger in check and use the opportunity to teach someone new about disability. It is amazing how willing people are to assist where they can. If you’re in a queue and getting tired ask for a chair. Ask the person in front of you for help, I have found that they are only too willing to oblige.

Put your pride in your pocket and ask for help, don’t expect people to instinctively know that you are disabled. I pray daily for the calm and patience to deal with each situation as it happens. If you don’t need to, don’t jump the queue, wait your turn but do so in comfort. Don’t wait until you’re on the verge of collapse before you ask for help. Keep your cool.

Disabled Toilet Encounters

Now when people talk to me about disabled toilets I can’t help but visualize a buckled and bent toilet with its cistern lid crooked and flush handle hanging loose, either on crutches or in a wheel chair. The same goes for disabled parking except here I see a crooked pole with a walking stick, with the signboard askew. I know I am being difficult but if we called them toilets for the disabled I for one would see them in their correct shape.

We have found some beautiful ones, big ones, small ones, narrow ones, smelly ones, the odd dirty one, impractical ones, those placed to fill a space merely because it is a requirement to have them, but most of all ones with loose basins, damaged seats and lack of or broken soap dispensers, drying units, paper towels, toilet paper and the list goes on.

Talking about shape! I would like to know who in the greater scheme of things decides that the architect’s plans for facilities for the disabled, in public places, are acceptable and who has designed or set these levels of acceptance.

It seems that this group or person doesn’t have a wheelchair rider in their group, or they don’t consult him/her if they do. One of my many wishes is that the building industry controlling body would employ a disabled, wheelchair bound architect to pass all plans for new buildings and those undergoing alterations. AND ENFORCE THE LAWS.

My wife and I have toured every shopping mall in Cape Town because we find it easier than trying to negotiate pavements without slopes for wheelchairs at all the crossroads, shop entrances etc. While there are a few that come up to my requirements the majority don’t.

Let me start with the doors, ---- after one has found a security guard with the appropriate key. The doors are usually wider, out of necessity for chairs, but extremely difficult to pull open or push from inside while standing. Let alone when in a wheelchair. I think the designers forget that our feet protrude from our footrests in a lot of cases. How do you pull a door open when you are sitting in front of it with your feet practically touching the door? They are also usually heavier due to their size and not hollow core which would make them lighter. In a lot of instances the entrance walls “alcove” in front of the door do not allow for a person to hold the door open without having their toes ridden over. A push button electronic sliding door would be a true blessing. (Could this be so difficult to install?)

Then we try to get inside with the automatic door closer doing its best to sandwich us against the door frame. (Hey!!! Guys, we need our hands to propel the wheelchair or at least one of them to manipulate the joy stick) how do we hold the door open?

To turn around in some is impossible because of layout or pure lack of space. This requires careful maneuvering or leaving and re-entering backwards. Now try to open the door from that position!!!! ---------- Impossible!!!

To wash and dry hands is also a work of art as the soap dispenser is inevitably on one wall, the drier on another with the basin sometimes situated between them.

Wet your hands then maneuver to the soap then with soapy hand back to the basin then back to the drier. By then, in my case, I need CPR after running the marathon of washing my hands. Besides having to wipe the soap off the wheels or joy stick.

Sometimes the facility is situated inside the normal men’s or lady’s toilet area. This is a problem, when your care giver is of the opposite sex.

Cheap plastic, wobbly, seats or loose cracked and broken ones are a definite no no. “Try to jump up from a cracked seat that suddenly grabs hold of a small piece of your behind when your legs or arms cannot support you.”

I have lost a lot of muscle mass in my behind or rather it has turned to fat and moved to my belly (or so my wife tells me) so, trying to sit on a toilet without a seat is difficult, to nigh on impossible, with sometimes hilarious results. My behind is definitely not as wide as a toilet so when I forgot to put the seat down I ended up with my bony bum securely wedged in the maw of this man eating toilet, with my skinny knees up around ear level. I must have looked a bit like a praying mantis about to jump on some luckless insect. It is amazing how important a raised toilet seat can be in these situations.

My arms are as weak as my legs, so to try to lift myself out of the clutches of this malevolent toilet was impossible. I had to call for help from my family who duly helped to get me out of my predicament much to my embarrassment and theirs too, no doubt.

What we need is a star rating for facilities for the disabled. Something like those that apply to hotels. But we need a disabled, wheelchair person to set the requirements for each level or star. Maybe then we could decide on which shopping mall to visit based on the information displayed on a board outside the centre at the parking bays without getting out of the car. Rather that, than find out, too late, that the facilities will not meet our needs when they are required with some urgency.

We don’t only go to shopping malls to use their facilities. We do actually shop at some of them.

To all shopping centres, petrol stations on major routes, churches, restaurants and those that design and build them. If you are going to provide facilities for the disabled, give the design, situation, basic mechanics, and maintenance some thought. Don’t just add them on as an afterthought merely to satisfy the minimum legal requirements. It is pointless advertising that you are disabled friendly when you cannot cater for a wheelchair. To us a severe slope is as bad as a step. (Just as useless). Likewise facilities that are impractical might just as well not be there. You need to remember that not all people have the same way of getting into or out of a wheelchair. Grab handles in the wrong place force people to use the basin or other fixture for leverage or support, which in turn results in loose basins etc. Waste bins take up valuable turning space and get squashed by wheels of power chairs. Soap dispensers and drying units that are too high are useless to wheelchair users. Some of us have weakened arms and can’t reach them.

I would like to encourage all disabled people that have or have had a bad experience with bathrooms and facilities for the disabled to write to the centre managers of these malls, shops, shopping centers, restaurants etc and advise them as to the problems. Unfortunately it is a fact of life that most able bodied people have no clue as to our requirements. Let’s inform them and ease our struggle at the same time. Make enough noise and we will be heard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UK Web Accessibility for Disabled

There's been widespread speculation about the new legislation being introduced under the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act), which will ensure that websites are accessible to blind and disabled users. Try to find specific information about it on the Internet and chances are you'll come up empty handed.

The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) and the DRC (Disability Rights Commission), two of the most renowned advocates for the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) and accessible websites, have no specific information about the laws and what websites specifically need to do in order to meet the legal requirements.

So, what does the law state?

Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act refers to the provision of goods, facilities and services. The Code of Practice, which specifically mentions websites, can be downloaded in its entirety from the DRC website ( 676kb).

The relevant quotes from this 175-page document are:

2.2 (p7): "The Act makes it unlawful for a service provider to discriminate against a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which it provides to members of the public."

4.7 (p39): "From 1st October 1999 a service provider has to take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services."

2.13 – 2.17 (p11-13): "What services are affected by the Act? An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the act."

5.23 (p71): "For people with visual impairments, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include ... accessible websites."

5.26 (p68): "For people with hearing disabilities, the range of auxiliary aids or services which it might be reasonable to provide to ensure that services are accessible might include ... accessible websites. "
When does the law come into force?

It's widely believed that the new laws will be implemented in October of this year, when the final part of the DDA comes into force. This final piece of legislation actually refers to service providers having to consider making permanent physical adjustments to their premises and is not related to the Internet in any way.

The law about accessible websites came into force on 1st October 1999 ( and the Code of Practice for this section of the Act was published on 27th May 2002 ( This means that the majority of websites are already in breach of the law.

Can you be sued?

Well, probably. The RNIB claim that they've considered taking up a number of legal cases against organisations with regard to their websites. When they raised the accessibility issues of the website under the DDA, companies have typically made the necessary changes, rather than facing the prospect of legal action.

The DRC has now published their findings from their formal investigation into 1000 websites. ([]). If your website was included then you will have to start thinking about making it handicap accessible to all web users in the very near future.

What do you need to do to comply?

It's widely believed that if, or perhaps more appropriately when, a case makes it to court that the W3C accessibility guidelines will be used to assess a website's accessibility and ultimately decide the outcome of the case. The W3C is the Internet governing body and its web accessibility guidelines can be found at

To further complicate matters, the W3C offers three different levels of compliance. Priority 1 guidelines, (which must be satisfied according to the W3C) will almost certainly have to be adhered to. Priority 2 guidelines (which should be satisfied and are the EU recommended level of compliance (, or some part of, will probably also need to be adhered to too.

The courts will also no doubt take guidance from the outcome of an Australian case in 2000, when a blind man successfully sued the Sydney Olympics organising committee over their inaccessible website (

This article was written by Trenton Moss. He's crazy about web usability and accessibility - so crazy that he went and started his own web usability and accessibility consultancy ( Webcredible - ) to help make the Internet a better place for everyone.

Shower Doors That Help The Disabled

These days shower doors come in a wide variety of styles and designs. It’s worth putting some thought into finding one that both suits your needs and looks great. Installing a shower stall enclosure can bring your bathroom bang up to date in terms of style and functionality. But careful consideration is important when choosing which type of shower door would work best in your particular bathroom. As well as choosing a door that looks sleek and modern, the size and layout of your bathroom must be taken into account.

Sliding shower doors are the most common type. They take up the least amount of room, and can be fitted above a bathtub where space is at a premium. Because they glide open and shut, bypass sliding doors need tracks to operate. One downside of this design is that dirt and oil can accumulate in the tracks, which can be difficult to keep clean. Another disadvantage is that because of the nature of their design, sliding doors overlap, again causing potential cleaning issues.

Another sort is folding shower doors, which swing open on hinges. Folding doors are excellent for creating an elegant look and feel, but they do require enough space to be able to open outward. They can swing both ways, or just in one direction. A single action door must open outwards into the bathroom to prevent the user becoming stuck inside the shower enclosure. For this reason you will need to pay attention to the positioning of your bathroom fixtures to make sure the door doesn’t hit your sink, for example.

Bi fold or trackless shower doors are a combination of the above designs. They work in an accordion style, with folding sections. There are several benefits of this type of door. They use a minimum amount of space to operate, and they have no tracks to keep clean. They also offer barrier free access, so can be suitable for handicap shower stalls. These shower doors come equipped with a small ramp that allows for wheelchair access. These handicap shower stalls are perfect for anyone who has limited mobility. Get more information about handicap showers before deciding if this option is better than remodelling your bathroom with a handicap bathtub.

Frameless shower doors made from all glass are a popular style these days, they help create a more open and lighter feeling, suggesting an illusion of space. They are also easier to keep clean than traditional framed models. Shower door hardware comes in a choice of finishes, including chrome and brass, so you can match it to your faucets and bathroom cabinet handles. Glass shower doors come in a variety of patterns, from clear to etched to molded. Glass can be kept free of mold by simply using a squeegee to wipe away water drops.

When choosing a shower door, think about what design would look the best, and which style would work well in the space available. With a bit of planning your shower door can be the icing on the cake in your bathroom’s makeover!

Simon Phillips is a successful freelance writer and regular contributor to, your one stop source for finding the best deals on shower doors, shower stalls, bathroom vanities and more!

Elderly and Disabled BathTubs

Handicap walkin bath tubs allow the people you love, to care and bathe themselves independently and keep their dignity. A safety tub is designed for easy access to those who can't easily get into a regular bathtub.

People who have physical challenges, are limited with mobility or are elderly. These tubs also help the caregivers who offer their assistance to the handicapped or elderly that must help them into a regular tub.

You can install this type of a tub conveniently in any location of your home. There is a non-slip surface on the floor and seat to prevent injuries. This type of system is very tough, and an easy to care for fiberglass unit, where the handicap shower seats and back is molded for maximum support.

The sides are designed to provide comfortable arm support and help promote balance while sitting in the tub. There is a hand held shower included with the tub which provides easier access for handicapped people to take care of their needs.

You can set an adjustable scald guard to a maximum temperature setting to prevent people from being burned. You can fill the water level as high as chest level if it is desired, and will pass through any 30 inch door opening.

There is whirlpool action that helps people with circulatory problems. These problems can be arthritis and sore muscles, as well as many other ailments. This is a therapeutic way to help painful muscles on the elderly patients.

A handicap tub is a wonderful way to show people you care about their needs. If you have a family member who has a hard time getting in and out of the tub, this may be the right direction. This type of tub is designed to maintain self-esteem in the elderly.

By owning one of these tubs in your home or facility, you are making life easier on yourself as well. You won't have to strain your back helping limited people get into a regular tub and this means you will be able to give better care.

The whirlpool action can help relieve those painful moments when joints and muscles are aching. Circulatory problems are often helped through the use of whirlpool action, and can be alleviated through the use of this tub.

Elderly and handicapped people will feel more secure about themselves and the tub they are relaxing in. This type of tub keeps safety in mind and can be an added asset to anyone who can still take care for their physical body on their own.

If a handicap bathtub is not what you are looking for, there are roll in showers that allow access for wheelchairs and offer a similarly safe and comfortable bathroom experience.

Handicap Bathtubs

Every person in the world wants luxurious life and so in order to lead a very luxurious life every person work from day to night. The people across the world want luxury in all aspects of life and bathing is no exception and so they go for handicap bathtubs. The bathroom of the people is well decorated with all types of decorative pieces. There are also bathtubs in the bathroom which adds to the comfort of the people. The use of such bathtubs is mainly used for remodeling the bathroom. The bathroom has to look very stylish and charming. The remodeling of a house or a bathroom does not mean the rebuilding but rather it means replacing the things from one place to another.

The handicap bathtubs are of great help to the people as these tubs are deeper than the other tubs. These tubs do not slip as well and moreover you can easily take a bath in these tubs and enjoy bathing. These tubs are safer than any other bathtubs as they have easy entry as well as exit. The people with a little mobility mainly use these types of bathtubs wherein they can relax as well. These bath tubs are very hygiene and they can be found in the market very easily and their cost starts from $3000 to $6500. These bathtubs provide all the people with the ease to bath without the assistance of others.

Walk in bathtubs not only helps to make a bath comfortable but it can also be used as one of the most effective ways to relax and take some rest from the day's hard work. A rest after a long day is always very relaxing and is much needed. These types of tubs are very handy for the people who have problems with their mobility as well. It is also useful in our day to day life as well.

There is handicap shower tub that provides the immovable people a great satisfaction as they can bath like the normal people. This creates a very strong feeling in them and so makes them happier. This type of a bathtub is neither smaller nor bigger but it is of the same size. So such bathtub does not draw any type of dissimilarity amongst the other types of tubs. But the tubs are deeper than the normal ones and so there is less risk of any accident. Moreover a person can very easily enter and exit out of the bath tub.

Such bathtubs are not only used by the patients but are also used for decoration. Now-a-days many people use such bathtubs in order to decorate their bathrooms and make them look luxurious. Again on the other hand such bathtubs are very relaxing and people love to use such tubs. So the use of this type of bath tub is not limited to a type of people but it can be used by most of the people across the world. Add a handicap shower chair so you will not have to stand for long periods.

Handicap Bathtubs provides luxury in life of handicap people. For more information on Handicapped bathtub visit the provided links.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bathtubs for Disabled

Choosing bath tubs for the handicapped is a very important task. You will need to take a lot of factors in consideration when purchasing the bath tub. Accessibility and safety will often be your main points of concern. The features that you will need in the bath tub will be determined by the nature and severity of the handicap as well. These handicap tubs are designed to allow for easy access, they are higher and deeper then regular bathtubs, but they usually have a seat where the patient can sit. This makes it very easy to enter and exit the tub and prevents slipping or needing to bend down to recline in the tub.

Walk in bathtubs can promote healing and usually include many features comparable to jacuzzis and hot tubs. Whirlpool features, massage sprays, and hydrotherapy can convert regular bath time into a time of intense therapeutic sessions that can help promote healing and relax stiff muscles. There are also showerheads that are affixed to the edge of the walk in bathtub that will allow you to easily take a shower while remaining in a seated position. Add some shower grab bars on the walls near the bathtubs for added safety. These bathtubs have given freedom and convenience back to many people who for whatever reason were unable to bathe by themselves.

Safety features and design are the key to choosing the best bathtub for your needs. Locking gates, power seats, and easy access and exit points are features that will ensure your bathing needs are met in safety, comfort, and ease of use. These bath tubs were designed with the needs of the handicapped in mind and are created to meet the safety concerns of those who have limited mobility. They come in a wide variety of sizes and depths allowing for a wonderful bathing experience, which may be hard, to obtain by those who have medical needs.

Price ranges vary in walk in bath tubs, but they are typically very comparable to the cost of a hydrotherapy whirlpool tub. They cost between $3,000-$6,000. However, if you are purchasing the tub due to a medical condition or a handicap, it is possible that your insurance or Medicare may help cover the cost. You should contact your agent or caseworker to find out if this is a possibility. These bath tubs have revolutionized the way handicapped and the elderly take care of themselves and has given many the freedom to bathe without needing additional assistance.

Learn more about walk in bath tubs and options available when looking for a handicap shower tub at

Managing Disability

Disability made easier
22 Tips on how to do it

After years of experience I can still never say that I have arrived and know everything about disability or how to cope with or combat it. One thing I have learnt is that disabilities vary vastly from person to person, even if diagnosed with the same disease, disability or condition (we won’t pursue the other synonyms in this article. That is an article on its own.)

I was once told by a very wise doctor that the reason for my sudden and unexplained falling was that I was tripping over my own pride. You see pride was getting in the way of me using the numerous aids at my disposal in order to avoid these sudden mishaps. Once I overcame my pride and removed the perceived stigmas attached to these devices, I fell less often, until eventually I parked my stubborn backside in a wheelchair. Hey Presto ----------- no more falling.

Some tips to help cope with disability without buying handicapped equipment ………

* Ascertain the problem e.g. (can’t open jars or bottles etc)
* Seek the solution on the net on sites for disabled and disabled aids and equipment or get someone to open the problem container for you, then decant the contents into manageable containers.
* Use an 8mm dowel stick approximately 1 metre or shorter in length with rubber cap on both ends (use thick rubber bands wrapped around and glued if necessary). Useful to get to light switches, TV buttons, front door bells, set alarms, stretch for papers on desks, pushing or pulling tool, backscratcher. (NO it’s too thick to serve as an ear bud for itchy ears). Anyway I was told never to put anything smaller than my elbow into my ears.
* Eating utensils too thin in the handle. Use short lengths of 12mm new garden hose to slip over the handle. Makes handle easier to hold. And can be removed for washing of both, utensil and hose. To avoid contamination soak handle in mild bleach solution.
* Bend the front of a fork or spoon to the left or right at 45 degrees, pending if left or right handed, makes for easier self feeding.
* Use a bowl instead of a plate. You won’t have to “chase” your food around your plate so much.
* Can’t pick up cups and glasses. Use clear PVC tubing of desired diameter (similar to medical tubing used in drips etc) also used by canoeists. Available at most hardware stores. Cut to desired length (longer than conventional straws) can be easily cleaned by washing and soaking in mild bleach and water solution. Can be carried in wheelchair bag.
*Ask for assistance if you sincerely need it during shopping. Do not let your pride prevent you from getting things done.
* Wheelchair bag hanging on back of chair to carry equipment. I use a cloth bag from one of the supermarket chains. (wee bottle, eating utensils, drinking tube, change of undies, nappies if required, etc Each item in its own Ziploc bag to avoid contamination)
* A bag can also be hung under the seat behind the legs to hold things like cell phones, spectacles, tablets, medicine etc. if you can lean forward, or fit it somewhere else more suited to your requirements.
* Weights for exercising can be tins of food instead of barbells, socks filled with sand or beans to desired weight, bungee cord attached to chair or wall or door frame for neck, arm and leg exercises. I use one that was a luggage strap for my car.
* Extend your door handles with flat wood of appropriate width a length glued on with epoxy glue. The longer the handle the more leverage and less strength required. Also attach a loop of cord around handles for easier opening towards you as you reverse your chair. Vary the length to suit your needs. Cord loops are also handy for fridges, cupboards, drawers etc. Same can be done with window handles. Push with stick pull with loop. With a lot of useful aids the aesthetics go by the board unfortunately but I’d rather struggle less than have it pretty and useless.
* Fit a thin cord or string or even fishing line through the hole at the end of difficult zips. Loop to desired length. Tuck into the top of pants when the zip is closed.
* Thread elastic of correct thickness and colour to shoes instead of shoe laces
* Men, make a small hole at back of the shoe and thread loop of strong thin cord through the hole. Tuck the thread into shoe once on. Sorry ladies nowhere to hide the thread for you. It shouldn’t irritate you if you use a wheelchair.
* Raise a comfy chair by standing it on ash or cement blocks. It’s easier to slide off the chair than get up from the lower position.
* Don’t use a kettle to heat water for tea or coffee boil required amount in microwave. Quicker and lighter.
* When sitting in a wheelchair at a table. Try sitting at a corner with the table leg between your footrests and legs, and the point of the corner towards your stomach. You can get closer to your plate, cup or glass.
* Wrap and glue stiff paper around a favourite pen or pencil with surplus piece extending off the pen in a glued together flap. Now pinch flap between thumb and index finger and teach yourself to write all over again.
* Wear your glasses (spectacles) around your neck on a cord loop. Attach to glasses using rubber bands. Will be with you when you need them. Hands free.
* Attach a PVC pipe 50mm dia or smaller, of desired length to the side of your chair once you’ve closed the bottom, (can use any strong plastic bag or packet and glue or elastic bands to do that). Use as a “quiver” for scratching pointing stick and other required long tools. Fix to chair with adjustable hose clamps.
* Attach a mobile alarm panic button to your chair or wear one around your neck, so that help can be summoned in case of emergency.
* Join disabled (or any other synonym) groups and ask questions. There are amazing people in the disabled fraternity with brilliant cheap workable ideas. Seek and you shall find. Don’t, and you will forever struggle.


Wheelchairs, Transportation and Life insurance

The determination to stay mobile has had it’s trials and tribulations since being advised that I have a disease called Inclusion Body Myositis.

I have been a very wobbly walker for the past eight years or so and progressed from wobbly unaided to wobbly aided over this space in time. My first walking stick was one I inherited from my mother in law.

I am still convinced in my own mind, that she knew I was going to need a stick at some stage, and that is why she left me this dance with death walking stick. She had prepared this stick for me, for having the temerity to marry her darling daughter.
The damn thing had a will of it’s own and would suddenly go off at a tangent, just when I needed it’s support the most. The resultant sprawl onto the deck would leave me severely damaged in spirit and body. I would lie there in pain while I convinced myself the sounds in my brain were not the sniggers of my dear old mother in law but really just the ringing in my ears from the impact with the floor. After a couple of these incidents I decided to inspect the suspect stick more closely, only to find that the rubber tip had worn through and the protruding wood was the reason for the sudden falls. Nobody can convince me that she did not sit there gleefully rubbing away at the stick tip until the wood was slightly exposed. Short of sending this stick for forensic tests I could not prove that my mother in law had somehow contrived the suspect wear of the tip. I will carry it with me to the grave that the old darling had a good giggle every time I landed flat on my face. I only felt slightly better after using the thing as kindling for a summer barbecue.

Then came a wheeled handicap walker. Also left to me by mom in law, needless to say, but the contraption was closely inspected before I condescended to use it. Yes, you guessed correctly.
Somehow she managed to change this help aid into an instrument of torture that would trip me up at unexpected times. I’m sure that she even coached the dogs on how to get me to trip over them or my own feet. The difference between this walker and the stick was that, now I would fall and become entangled with the metal framework, landing up in positions with a strangely contorted body wrapped in and around the framework. I was fast becoming a wobbly walker with a phobia about falling. At a guess it could be called fallaphobia or crash landing a phobia but it is actually called --- Basophobia or Basiphobia- Inability to stand. Fear of walking or falling. Use which ever grabs your fancy.

Decisions, decisions ---- walk or wheelchair?
Well, once I had climbed the mountain of pride I could see myself maybe using a wheelchair when we went out. But, only, when we went out. Definitely not all the time.
You see, wheelchairs are for disabled people and I’m not disabled. I could still flop into the front seat of the car at this stage and the wheelchair would have pride of place in the rear. The first time I flopped backwards I misjudged my space and whacked my head on the roof of the door frame as I flopped into or onto the seat. I was convinced that my head had been opened like a toilet seat and it took a lot of reassurance from my wife to convince me that my head was still intact and that what was left of my brains was not splattered all over the driveway. I took a deep breath and mumbled something about mothers in law and vendettas before being securely strapped in with my safety belt. That came very close to being the last time I would venture out but after many threats, pleas and shaking of heads I was cajoled into trying again. Everything went swimmingly until I fell the last time and after spending four months flat on my back it was decided that I would be safer in a power wheelchair.

Now there was a transportation dilemma all over again. How to get me out?
We sold the van and bought an APV Renault Kangoo with the idea of riding the chair up an aluminium portable handicap ramp into the back. Once there, the chair was to be secured to the floor with tie down straps.

Theoretically this was easy. All the sums concerning head room etc were done and the ramp was purchased. Somewhere along the line here, I seemed to have lost my nerve and I kept putting off the trial run with fake back ache or headaches or any other ailment that I could contrive to get out of the attempt to pull an Evil Knevil stunt in my driveway.
Eventually after continual nagging from my wife and kids I conceded and the day of the test of my courage arrived.

The vehicle was parked in the correct place and the ramp was put in place. To me it looked like people were asking me to ride up the vertical face of a precipice. The ramp was probably at a 40 deg angle and the possibility of tipping over backwards loomed hugely in my brain. The off chance of me steering the chair off the edge was also very real. Blankets and sponge mattresses were strategically placed and I drove up to the foot of the ramp. It had been previously decided that I would not charge at the slope just in case I missed it altogether. The faith that everyone had in my driving skill was rather disconcerting to say the least.
I readied myself mentally and physically and had my son standing behind me in case of a backward tip. Engage gear and ready steady go. I took off up the ramp like a scalded cat, fortunately realising that we had not measured the entrance height and ducking my head just in time to avoid decapitation. We had measured inside but did not think or see that the roof bulged as roofs do. The entrance height was a good ten centimetres lower than the roof.
The main instigator, had all this time, stood with her hands over her eyes, in a “hear no evil see no evil” posture and I will reluctantly concede that my eyes were tightly shut as well. Success !! we had managed it without serious mishap.
Everybody was happy until we realised that the chair could not be turned around inside the car and in any event the ramp was so steep that it would have been dangerous to go down forwards. Then with shrieks of mirth and with my son practically rolling on the ground with laughter I was informed that I would have to reverse down the ramp.
I could not twist my head far enough to see where I was going and had to rely on directions interspersed with giggles to get me out of my predicament. Then with my heart thumping in my chest and gallons of sweat pouring down my face, I negotiated the reverse manoeuvre and arrived at the bottom without falling off or tipping over backwards.
Now we have all the systems and routines in place it is still nerve wracking, but, with practise it has gotten easier each time.