Wheelchair traveler…

>>>Wheelchair traveler…

The pic is a storyboard from an upcoming Will Vinton claymation movie, and it seemed particularly apropos considering what I’m doing this week: I’m on the road for the first time since I started riding the range in a wheelchair.

I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint-hearted, but (so far) I’m having fun. It’s part of the last-ditch effort to find alternatives that could save Elmo. If I can’t, distal-femoral implant on July 28.

I’m in Redwood City right now, about to bed down for the night in a gen-u-wine wheelchair access room. Tomorrow I visit Stanford, hand them a CD-ful of x-rays and whatnot, and chat with the head honcho about options for saving my busted femur and knee replacement.

About 6 hours later, we’ll head back to the airport, flying to University of Utah to talk similar subjects on Thursday. Then, finally, we arrive back in Portland around midnight.

The “we” is me and my kid sister, Suzanne. I was planning to do this trip by myself until about two weeks ago, when a series of mishaps at a downtown glass conference convinced me that I’m not quite ready for fully wheeled independence…yet. Seemed prudent to have someone riding shotgun on my first air flights.

Turns out it’s MORE than prudent; it’s non-stupid, which is something I hope to be more of in future. 😉 And Suzi’s been a huge help, so I’m glad she’s here.

Anyway, tonight we’re staying at a rickety old motel, outrageously expensive (hey, it’s the SiliValley, after all), but actually fitted out for a wheelchair, which is very, very cool. I can even roll my chair into the shower, transfer to a little bench, and bathe!

At home, I stand on one foot, laboriously scooooch it over to the shower, turn and drop a towel on the toilet seat, brace on a grab bar and a tile ledge, and deadlift myself into the shower, balancing on my hands until the good foot is solid. Then I grab the walker and slooowly pivot until I’m showering, perched carefully between walker and wall.

Don’t even ASK about toilets. They’re upstairs. If I’m not upstairs, well…let’s just say I exert amazing self-control.

So, a bathroom I can roll right into, without transferring to a narrower chair, or getting stuck in a stall…pure heaven. Happy sigh.

I was worried about the whole airplane thing. How the heck would I get my wheelchair down the aisle? What would they do with it during the flight? What if I lost it?

Turns out it’s a piece of cake; you get to bypass all the lines, they wheel you wherever you want to go, point out the best places for dinner, and just basically bend over backwards to make sure you’re safe and comfortable.

I could get used to that…assuming the other three flights this week go the same way.

Spiffy, my new titanium wheelchair, shown with all his parts attached

Only one issue so far: Spiffy, my fancy new TiLite ZRA wheelchair that I adore, is NOT allowed in the cabin. Or at least not allowed in Southwest cabins.

Spiffy weighs about 20 pounds, and I’m getting better and better at getting him in and out of the car so I can drive to work or the doc’s or wherever. To do that, I put the car seat all the way down and back, get in, and begin the Spiffy Striptease.

(Cue stripper music)

  • First I grab the handle of his seat cushion, and slooowly peel it away, stowing the cushion in the back seat
  • I roll him around until he’s facing me, then I…oooh…unlock his brakes
  • I pull out his armrests and stow them in the passenger seat
  • Then I spin him 90 degrees, lift him up…and pop off his left wheel
  • Spin again, lift him up…and off comes the right wheel
  • Whirl him around again, so his back is to the audience (me), and…pull off his anti-tip wheels (my glasses are beginning to fog…)
  • Now I pop his backrest down, lie down on the car seat, and grab his underside struts
  • Then I pull him up and over me, turning him around so he’s facing front, and set him in the passenger seat

Miss on that last step, and Spiffy plonks down on some part of me, hard. I wear about as many bruises as hair follicles these days.

Anyway, Spiffy had to be checked at the gate, with his fragile parts removed, bagged, and stowed in the overhead bin. I spent some anxious moments at landing, wondering if he’d show up, or leave me to bottom-scoot my way down to the hospital. But he was there, all parts intact. (Whew)

So…tomorrow I’ll talk to the doc, and we’ll see.


The Saving Elmo series covers my adventures after crashing to the ground on Elmo, my replacement knee, sustaining an “open, comminuted fracture of the left femoral shaft.” It’s a tad more dire than it sounds; if my bone doesn’t grow completely back and return me to normal function, there’s a new, more painful, less effective femoral replacement in my future…with eventual amputation.

If you want to follow along on the journey, try these posts:

Mantis lessons

November 14th, 2017|10 Comments

Mischief managed

November 8th, 2017|19 Comments

Surgery musings and kudos to Marriott

October 15th, 2017|22 Comments

I think I’m in love…with my bathroom

October 10th, 2017|8 Comments

Chirurgia interruptus

September 28th, 2017|11 Comments

Happy Crashiversary, Elmo

September 18th, 2017|19 Comments

So how did you break your leg?

August 10th, 2017|2 Comments

View from the mountain

August 4th, 2017|4 Comments

The ravell’d sleeve of care…

July 26th, 2017|6 Comments

Test: Can you spot the cripple?

July 22nd, 2017|14 Comments

Zeroing in and leveling out

July 20th, 2017|34 Comments

Femurs, accessibility, and Utah: Saving Elmo II

July 16th, 2017|14 Comments

Tripping the light surgical: Saving Elmo II

July 14th, 2017|12 Comments

Wheelchair traveler…

July 12th, 2017|7 Comments

Filling up on sweetness, with fragility

July 6th, 2017|8 Comments

Saving Elmo: Sometimes the bear eats you

June 26th, 2017|17 Comments

No place like it…

June 12th, 2017|6 Comments

Driving Miz Cynthia, Part Two

June 5th, 2017|9 Comments

Drivin’ Miz Cynthia

June 1st, 2017|5 Comments

Home-ward bound

May 29th, 2017|10 Comments

Room 15: Paying it forward

April 3rd, 2017|12 Comments

Whippersnapper

April 1st, 2017|5 Comments

The Fortress

March 25th, 2017|9 Comments

On the bone again…

March 10th, 2017|14 Comments

Moonlight at sunrise, with jitters

March 8th, 2017|8 Comments

The wheeled view

March 2nd, 2017|10 Comments

Elmo, Beorn, and the Ferengi’s ears

January 30th, 2017|12 Comments

Cliffhangers, clues, and claying around

November 28th, 2016|7 Comments

8 weeks: Patience for the unvirtuous

November 16th, 2016|12 Comments

2017-07-16T21:16:51+00:00

7 Comments

  1. imaginethatglass July 12, 2017 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Girl! I hope you’re going to pull all these blog posts into a book. With illustrations. I swear, I will stop complaining about hotels where I get put in the handicapped room (I’m a bathtub kinda gal, and those rooms always have showers….) At least you’re on the West Coast – I believe they’ve actually discovered the ADA. Will be pulling for you tomorrow and beyond. You’d make a great advocate for others – like Temple Grandin is for animals (sort of, not saying you’re autistic!). I just think you have a great way of expressing complex ideas simply, which is not a common ability. Gonna stop typing now so I can focus on un-wedging my merrell’s from my molars.

  2. kathryncecelia July 12, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    So glad your sister is there AND that you realize what an asset she is to you. Two pluses. Now a nice third plus would be good news from one of your stops. My fingers are crossed and hoping for the best news.

  3. Dianne Van de Carr July 12, 2017 at 10:47 am - Reply

    I appreciate your updates and wish you all the best.

  4. Sandy July 12, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Wow! You are amazing!

  5. Rinee July 12, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Cynthia
    You are one of the strong but I wish this was easier for you. Stay tough. I am thinly about you and sending the best thoughts possible.

  6. Gail Northness July 12, 2017 at 7:15 am - Reply

    This sounds exhausting, without the injury and having to cope with mobility issues. Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. Hope you get good news. Gail

  7. Teddy Devereux July 12, 2017 at 5:37 am - Reply

    Best of luck Cynthia!

Comments welcome! (thanks)

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