Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

The changes in my breasts are benign--good news!

The wheelchair van--that's another story. It works, but Chrysler made 2008 and later models so that the sliding door does not open all the way--the door partially blocks the opening. That means that not only will Roll-a-Ramp not work, but not even a manual ramp will work with side doors on this van--or the Dodge minivans either. There could easily still be a 30-35 inch opening but there is not--well, there is a 35 inch opening--it's just blocked by the door that won't slide open all the way. While a hinge/special piece can be added to gain an extra inch, you can't get two inches and wiring would have to be cut into and other very significant changes would have to be made, putting you much of the way into a conversion. For no other reason than aesthetics have they done this. Spread the word--people using manual ramps may be unaware that a newer vehicle won't work for them. While you can still do a $20,000 conversion to these minivans, a simpler solution will no longer work.

There are spring-loaded manual ramps that will fit permanently in a van and require little physical effort--so my kids or relatives could help me with it. We could in that case remove the rear lift and raise the bench seat for our kids. But, again, 30-inch manual ramps won't fit in that van door, not on the newer vehicles. Maybe people with smaller manuals can use them, but my chair is 26-inches wide standard--a 26-inch ramp won't work.

This is poor design since Chrysler knows that Town and Country and the Dodge van are used for wheelchairs--they're probably the most used vehicles for power chairs, large scooters, and manual wheelchairs whose owners need a minivan.

I'm not sure to whom to complain since Chrysler (Dodge is a part of it) is in all kinds of change. I'm not sure anyone would care.

So this means I can't take the power chair out, not without my husband. I can't go on Paratransit with the kids since you can only take one person with you (and I can't get to regular transit lines without Paratransit). My husband travels, meaning I must do some errands now, and works too far away to help otherwise. We're in a bit of a bind. We'll hope the lift holds out as long as possible so I can take the scooter out some, though my time in it is pretty limited. Though we could put a manual ramp in the back, I couldn't then put the scooter in and out by myself; most people who could help me wouldn't be able to get the power chair up that big of a ramp.

We've been through worse; we'll make it through this too. It took me a year from the time I realized I needed different seating to get a wheelchair. I'm no worse off and am often better now that I can enjoy time out on weekends with the family without being in unendurable pain. I also use the wheelchair extensively at home. But a long-term solution or time out during the week may have to wait--I have my eyes and hopes on the next year ahead.

Yes, using a wheelchair, really easy...


Elizabeth McClung said...

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, I am so, so, sorry. I am so sorry. I know the independance that you were hoping/planning/preparing for and now THIS - why? Why are we tested in such ways?

I don't know enough about wheelchair vans, but I do know that there are wheelchair vans for sale used here, through the parapalygic society and other societies, so that they don't go on open market and thus are more affordable.

Please send the model to Linda and Cheryl, they did the research on getting my wheelchair into the van, maybe they can find a solution for you as well. I am so, so sorry.

FridaWrites said...

I don't know--I think to keep us on our toes and so that I have the extreme gratitude and understanding that comes from difficulties that most people with disabilities have--rather than knowing from white middle-class privilege, I know the system and economic challenge from the inside, from experience. And I think that will make me a better advocate in the long term.

I want to do some volunteer work or paid work part-time (like a few hours a few times a week), but the problem is transportation. Commuting on paratransit will wear me out if the trips are as long as expected. I'll at least sign up as backup for emergencies.

Yes, I'll email Linda and Cheryl! I don't give up easily, and while it may be a year until we get what we need, well, it took me a year to get the wheelchair too.