When my problems started, I walked at first with a cane, then I went to one crutch, then two. After a couple dozen years, I needed a wheelchair to get around, and my insurance provided the cheapest one they could find. It looked a lot like this:
Growing up my BFF was a crippled kid who’d had polio. He refused to bow to his limitations, and was always pushing to prove he was as good at stuff as all the other kids. He had big clumpy braces on his legs and used crutches to get around, but he could move as fast as I could walk (and I could walk pretty fast).
In fact, it was from a lifetime of watching him use his crutches that prepared me for their use when I needed them to get around. But he refused to use a wheelchair, so I had to learn that from scratch. I quickly learned to turn around and use my feet on the ground if I wanted to go up a slope. If you ever see somebody on the street inching their way backward up a sidewalk, that’s why they’re doing it. It’s just too difficult to use your arms to roll that darn machine uphill the “right” way. You wind up losing ground with each roll if you use your arms and go forward.
You go up the stairs the same way. Only you tilt the chair backwards until the front wheels are off the ground and you’re balancing, teetering really, on the big wheels. Then you use all your strength to roll those wheels up onto the next step. You do that over and over and over, stopping at each step to rest. Going down is easier. You assume the same “balanced” position, but you face forward and tightly grip the wheels, letting gravity take the chair down a step at a time. I’ll let you know if that ever stops being scary.
They make wheelchairs that have special brakes and gears built into the axle to makes hills much easier. And they make chairs that will climb stairs. That’s great, if you’re rich. But most of us don’t have that option. We take what the insurance company will “give” — as if it’s charity and we hadn’t been paying premiums for years. For a long time I hoped that eventually I could save up enough money to buy a good chair. This was my dream chair. It’s called an Ultralight. It’s lightweight and easy to maneuver. Then maybe my wife won’t have to walk so slowly beside me, wondering if I’d be offended if she just pushed me and got it over with.
But when I had to go to an electric chair, that dream ended. I have to be careful not to let the battery charge run down, because it’s difficult to move once the motor’s dead. Batteries and all, the empty chair weighs almost 300 lbs. On the plus side, when it is charged up, I can drive faster than my wife normally walks, so that’s no longer an issue.
Gives Dawg a real workout as well when I take him for his walk (four times a day). If it’s nice out, and no one is around, I have a circle around our community that runs about a mile and a half. I try to make sure he gets plenty of exercise because some experts think that boredom is at the root of behavior problems.
Either that’s not his issue, or he needs even more exercise than I can give him. One expert recommends a treadmill, so I got one for Dawg. Unfortunately, he just would not use it. I went through all the suggested steps to get him used to it, taking weeks just to get him comfortable around the machine, the noise it makes, giving him treats and even pretending to roll along beside him, but nothing helped. To keep him on the machine, I had to tie his collar lead really close to the front end of the running board, otherwise he’d just jump off. But tying it that tight, he fought it and choked himself. Of course, now that he has his neck problem, that’s out completely anyway.
There is one thing I’ve been wanting to do that might work. There are some people not that far away that train dogs to herd sheep. I’d like to get them to train him, and then pay them to keep working him. That should give him all the exercise he could ever want! And I think he’d love it. A working breed (like a Bouv) is happiest when they have a job to do.
The issue so far is money. It’s hell being poor.