Friday, March 15, 2013

A Bit Busy Here Lately...

... apologies for infrequent posting, but stuff has been happening.

Of course I have my usual twice-a-week physical therapy; this week they're teaching me to balance from the hips to distribute weight more evenly between my natural (left) leg and my prosthetic (right) leg when I'm walking; yes, that takes longer to say than it takes to go through one cycle of "shift weight; step (sometimes step up) with the foot not bearing the weight; step down (if necessary); redistribute the weight for the next cycle."

Then on Wednesday I had my MetroLift™ in-person interview in the course of applying to be eligible to use the service, also known as the "are you a cripple? prove it!" interview. I passed. It's hard to miss when I let my shorts leg ride up the way a very flirtatious woman might do, only in my case, what shows is the carbon-fiber top of my prosthesis. Sexy? no. Proof that I'm a cripple? Well, yes. The MetroLift ride downtown to Houston Metro headquarters, the interview, and the MetroLift ride home took, altogether, nearly the whole business day. No one said assisting disabled people was quick or easy. I should receive my MetroLift ID in about a week; then I can begin scheduling some of my daily trips for which I've depended on friends (thanks, George! thanks, Stella!) on public transit.

An aside about MetroLift: if you ever wondered whether the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 had any significant positive consequences, the answer is an emphatic yes: the law requires, say, the City of Houston to provide to people with disabilities transportation comparable to mass transit for non-crippled people... at a comparable price... and that's what MetroLift is all about. Houston goes a step further, equipping all city buses and MetroRail with handicapped-friendly facilities; that doesn't help me because the nearest bus stop is almost a half mile from my home... and I can't walk a half mile yet, if ever. So I spent a day of my life arranging to receive the same functional benefit you can get by walking to the bus stop (rail stop, whatever) and getting on the proper public transit vehicle.

As vehicles have a sixth sense about such things, Stella's auto wound up in the shop yesterday and today, because the brakes were behaving oddly. Diagnosis: master cylinder. Resolution: either replace it or make your plans to run into a car, a wall, a post or whatever in the near future. Of course we replaced it.

With luck, I'll return to actual political blogging soon. I've been thinking about it; I just haven't had time and energy. Thanks for your patience.


  1. Tell Stella dragging a large stick out the window could have worked as a brake, but probably better to have gotten the car fixed...

    And yes, nobody told us that getting older meant having to take more time to do simple things... and adding a disability on top of that makes planning a day a full time job.

    1. Well, ellroon, Stella does carry a large stick these days (a cane), but she can't afford to wear it down any shorter...

      If nothing has taught us patience by the time we're old, old age itself will make one last attempt. I've gained considerable patience in the last five years. Stella, not so much... :-)

  2. In Redneck Houston, brake is the other car.

    Oh wait :).

    Regarding the low-floor VTA light rail cars that VTA discarded barely-broken-in high-floor cars to buy, the problem was that they forgot to build wheelchair ramps at their stations. Their first attempt to deal with that lack was very cumbersome and problematic wheelchair lifts that the train driver had to actually get out and deploy (he had the only key to operate the thing because of the danger to children and small animals posed by the monstrosities). That didn't work too well because it could take five minutes to do that. Now, the next logical thing to do would be to add wheelchair ramps like Caltrain, not ideal, but still better than nothing. Instead, they bought an all-new fleet of light rail cars. Must be nice to be able to buy a new car just because you can...

    1. 'tux, I was once on I-45 coming south into Houston when a pickup truck in the oncoming lane got crosswise to traffic and was knocked into the median guardrail so hard that a fender and a headlight came flying over the rail into my lane. That time, a part of the other vehicle almost WAS the brake!

      Having spent too much time in wheelchairs (even now some of the time), I can safely say most of us cripples would prefer ramps to lifts any day of the week. A well-designed ramp (not all of them are) allows considerable control going down and provides an aerobic workout going up. A lift... well, I've never been comfortable on such things. I've never seen anyone dumped overboard from one, but it just seems all too possible.

      MetroLift vans, about half of them, do have lifts, but they deploy from inside, automatically place barriers before and behind the wheelchair, and although they are van-driver-operated, I've seen them go through a whole debarking cycle in about three minutes... it's pretty efficient, and I myself, on my walker, can't get out (via the stairs with steel handgrips) any quicker than that. FWIW, good wheelchair ramps are also walker-accessible to a competent, uh, walker. I traverse them deliberately but still fairly quickly.

  3. Glad to hear you are making progress with your prosthesis and getting around. Sorry I can't keep up with all your blogposts, but know I'm thinking of you and cheering you on!

    1. Thanks, Marlene; it's good as always to hear from you, and I'm always grateful for support. I thought of you and your family over the past month because my prosthetist's first name is Jon. I assume Samantha is near graduation by now; is she considering grad school or will she join the ranks of job-seekers? Best of luck to her either way.

      The prosthesis makes a world of difference. When I need a drink of water, I get up and get one; likewise when the flow is outbound... there's no huge production, no hopping around on one leg (except at night; I don't sleep with the prosthesis), no fitting the wheelchair through the narrow doors of this old house; I just get up on my two (!!) legs and go... usually with a walker in hand, but today I made a short walk with only a cane. It's a great feeling!

  4. I'm glad things are starting to work out, Steve. I do think of you often and try to send "good vibes" your way.



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