Living Life In A Wheelchair

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February 2023 Newsletter Edition

The month of February hasn't gone how I hoped. I haven't been able to put the time and energy into my projects that I wanted to. Instead household maintenance has consumed much of my energy and efforts. Although I don't regret this I wish it hadn't happened. The downside is that my plans for self employment have now been delayed. I had wanted to resume the shed to woodworking setup as the snow melts in late March. It now seems it will be May before this gets my attention. This is because the completion to some of the repairs will not be completed until mid March.

I experienced a setback with my home. The water pipes in my kitchen burst. This was the result of the water inside the pipes freezing. The reason this happened is less than ideal. In 2009 both of my hip joints were operated on during the same surgery. I did not make the recovery as expected. It was living with friends for 5½ months while feeling very weak. During this time frame they did some renovations to my kitchen. They did me a real disservice causing this. They put the kitchen pipes on the cold side of the vapour barrier. They used garbage bags for vapour barrier. They didn't use the correct insulation for where the wall meets the floor allowing a draft to enter the house. The upshot is that I've been on borrowed time for the past 14 years. It was inevitable that the pipes were going to burst. It has been a huge let down. However I will arrange what should have been done in 2009 be set in motion.

Approximately three days after the pipes burst my sump pump begin making an almighty metal on metal grinding sound. This translates into the sump pump needing to be replaced as soon as practical. Failure to do so would result in it failing and my basement flooding. This would lead to my furnace and hot water heater suffering water damage. Granted I do have coverage for this on my house insurance. But the inconvenience of going through this isn't worth it. In theory the process of replacing a sump pump is a 10 minute job. But immediately after turning on the new sump pump it jammed. It had sucked up sediment and jammed the impeller. The silver lining in this situation was the knowledge and commitment of DeWalt technical support walking me through the process of what needed to happen in practical terms. The upshot is that a 10 minute job turned into 6 hours. About the same amount of time will need to be spent in March to prevent a recurrence. The upshot is that my new sump pump has a 10 year warranty. It is a quality pump and worth the effort in it's setup.

For me the highlight of this will happen near the end of March. With the help with a friend I will be setting up an Arduino to monitor my new sump pump and send alerts, manage a 12 volt battery backup and keep track of usage so I know when this new sump pump motor is loosing it's strength. My basement flooding has been a recurring issue. I've made incremental progress on this. I feel like I am coming near the finishing line with this setup. The final change in my setup will be in near the end of 2023 when the sump pump isn't running. I am going to bring my sump pump pit to the current standard. This should finish addressing water being around the foundation of my home.

When winter started I had two goals. The first was tidying my home while at the same time getting rid of what I no longer am using. The other was to sew blackout curtains. The idea with blackout curtains is two fold. In part it is to give me better quality sleep. The second is to make it more enjoyable being in my home when my legs are causing me to feel weak. I really enjoy nature. I find it peaceful. On the days my physical disability causes me to feel weak I want to be taking care of myself as a whole person. I am trying to make the best out of my life. I made some progress on sewing my blackout curtains. I haven't made the gains I had hoped for on account of the effort needed to address the water issues with my home and coordinate practical help. I am hoping by late March I will be able to resume working on these. They are going to be very special when completed. When I am having a difficult time with my legs I will often take my power wheelchair down to the bay. This is about 5 minutes from my home. By the time I am ready to return home I am so glad I had the outing and have had time to think about what is bothering me.

I am finding cutting my toe nails very difficult now. This started with my right knee joint buckling for a second time five months ago. It worsened with my right knee joint locking twice in recent months while I was in the tub. The pain cutting my own toe nails is one problem. The bigger issue is that I find myself barely able to do what is necessary to keep myself alive for the following two days after cutting my toe nails by myself. This isn't sustainable. I need help. There is foot care available at my family doctor office. When I attended an appointment with the social worker I asked if this service remained in place following the pandemic. It has. I will be having an assessment for this service in March. Typically the process is a once monthly appointment for someone only requiring assistance with their toe nails being cut.

With how up-ended my life became over the burst water pipes and the effort involved in the sump pump setup I have started considering what I could be doing differently that will make my life easier. One of the strategies that has helped me when my physical disability has been particularly troublesome or when I needed to make gains and remove barriers is advanced meal preparation. With this in mind I prepared my breakfast oatmeal for the next four months and froze it. My thought process is that with my breakfast already prepared there is minimial stress on my body. I won't be triggering my physical disability. There isn't the effort involved in cooking or cleaning up after myself by using this as a strategy. In turn this means I will be able to get sewing sooner and for longer before my body requires me to have a leg break. This should mean when I am able to resume focusing on sewing my blackout curtains I will make meaningful progress.