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African holiday Oct 2005 Part 1

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My Accident in 1995

Are new amputees unrealistic?

Finding the CP you want

MAS Socket Diaries

MAS Test Socket Photo's AUGUST 2005

Building a disabled friendly house

What to do when a new amputee comes home

Glossary of Terms

Can a planned amputee take control of their pain?

Lightning Hazard??

Skydiving with an Amputee

Paragliding with an Amputee

Your Responsibility to your Disability

The Phantom of Pain - by Alistair Plint

Lesley's RBK Story

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BUILDING A DISABLED-FRIENDLY HOME

This article was contributed by a gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous. He is a bi-lat AK and an amazing human being.

We had the fortunate (later to be unfortunate) experience of building a home to accommodate me………now and in the future. Prior, we owned a two story home that was deemed “unacceptable” for a person like me by the insurance company. So we sold it and built a bungalow home. The insurance company was responsible only for those items recommended by some “expert”………….the rest I paid for at today’s prices.

RAMPS AND STUFF

Getting in and out of the house

Because I was then a wheelchair user and someday, I guess, I will be again, I needed ramping and lifts to get in and out of the house. Since we were investing our dollars in the home, we rapidly decided that we did not want to create a “disabled looking home”. By that, I mean a home that did not have a big wooden thing hanging out the front for all eternity. My ramps were integrated into the over all landscape design and are decidedly permanent in nature.

In my opinion, the installation of ramping needs to be either temporary and removable, or permanent. I say this because in no time, a functioning leg amputee will no longer use the ramp ‘cause he / she is using their leg or………..the leg amputee has given up and will use a ramp for all eternity. Today I never use any of these ramps and cannot foresee that I ever will. However……once again………the “expert” recommended them.

In the garage area, I have an installed mechanical lift for a wheel chair. I also now have a set of hand rails on the stairs of this area. Today, I never use the lift. I always use the stairs. The lift now stands useless until the day I may need it. Once again, I cannot foresee it being used but………….the “expert” recommended it.

All doorways to the house are 36” wide doors to allow any sized wheelchair in. Additionally, they are all “low thresh hold” doors that, again the “expert” recommended. I would never recommend this type of door to any one. Sure there is no wee bump to drive over but they play hell on any door mat.

At my cottage, we built a “permanent” wooden ramp to spec. It cost me a couple of thousand dollars for material. I used it once. Last week we tore it off.

THE BATHROOM

I am most proud of our bathroom. It was self designed with hints from the experts. It does not look like a “cripple lives here” bathroom.

The Toilet

There was no way in hell I was ever going to accept a wonky looking toilet……………no raised seat………….no commode look……………no grab bars………..nothing!!! I was not to be the only user of this thing.

This was the first thing in life that made me realize that “the world does not conform to me, I MUST CONFORM TO THE WORLD”. It is a reality I live by today.

The Shower Stall

Like any new construction, there is a shower stall. The “experts” recommended grab bars (not installed), a shower wheel chair (still in the basement with the original wrapping) a low thresh hold base for entry (installed but not needed), a temperature controlled thingy so I don’t burn my ass (not necessary but installed), a movable shower head that slides up and down (I don’t use this as such, I remove the head ‘cause I shower on my ass while using it to wash the dogs!!!!), an interior light so I could see (not necessary ‘cause I have eyes).

The Sink

Well this was a lovely item. Seems the “experts” recommended:

•That the mirror goes all the way down to meet the countertop ‘cause shorty here, needs to see what he is shaving

•That the middle area be left open to accommodate a wheel chair user’s legs (the fact I don’t have any seems to have slipped his mind!!!)

•That the counter height be set a bit lower than normal.

The Bath Tub

•The only thing we had done differently is the addition of an extra course of tiling to the presenting edge. This acts as a platform for me to sit on before getting in the tub as well as a place to land on when I get out. MOST RECOMMENDED (our idea…….not the “experts”)

The insurance company bought an automatic bath tub lift for me (“expert” recommended). You know the kind that you sit on………..it lowers you into the tub………..when finished you push a button and it raises you out of the water. I said thank you. After they left I told the wife “pack that thing up - please!!!! I’ll figure a way on my own”. It rests in the basement with the other crap they gave me!!!

I think it is important to listen to the “experts” ……………….to consider what they say……….to think about it and the expense………and not take them at face value!!

OTHER AREAS

General

•All doors are wide. Mine are 36”. This allows access via chair to all areas.

•All light switches in my home are installed at “wheel chair height”. This was done before I realized it. It does make the home a bit weird but after I got used to them…..they are a blessing even when I am on my ass.

•All areas should be large enough for a wheel chair user to get around in without taking out a wall while the user is turning.

•Laundry facilities should be “front loading”. Whether I am in a chair or on my ass, I am still capable of doing laundry (damn it). I just suck at putting things away.

•Unless you are pretty sure about living a long time, and dying in your home, refrain from having kitchen counters set at a low level or lowering your upper cabinets. Wacko looking kitchens just do not do well on the market. Just DEAL WITH IT.

•Floor covering should be of a smooth hard surface such as hard wood or laminates. This is best for wheel chairs as they are easier to roll on, clean the crap from the wheels and are best for mutants like myself who “slep” around on their ass.

•A kitchen oven with front controls for the elements is best. This eliminates the need to reach over hot burners to turn them off by a chair user.

•Ensure that any grab bars installed are actually hitting wood during installation.

MY BACK YARD

Living in this city, we were subject to a lot of “Code”. We soon learned that code has control over a disabled person. It is the law that we had to have two manual escape routes in place ‘cause I am “disabled”. As such, we designed the back yard to accommodate this without ending up with a disabled looking back yard escape route.

•The stone ramp replaces an ugly wood one. All areas are available to me in ass mode, begger’s board or chair. The result is very good.

•It is a part of the world that I can be at ease with myself without the stress imposed by others.

When building a disabled home you have to think about today, how you will be tomorrow and how you will be when you are much older. For me, I know what my future will be:

•I will walk until I cannot


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


FAVOURITE LINKS :

 

Chronic Pain Chronic pain management by Dr Mitchell

Disability sport in South Africa DISSA

THE ANGRY GIMP Awesome must read site!

Marco Du Plooy My Pretoria based prosthetist

Sleeve Art by Fred's Legs

Employment Guidelines from SA Dept of Labour for PWD's & employers

Amputee Resource - Al Pike CP

MAS Socket - information

Fly SA - Paragliding

Jam Ally Entertainment - where Ally works

Eric Morse - Para-sport photographer & friend (Canada)