Wednesday, November 30, 2011

we have a ramp

Thank you Lord, we finally have a ramp. It goes along with Amy's post on waiting for God to provide with his big hand. We tried several options to make do with first a wooden and then a fabricated steel ramp. Many people tried to help meet our needs. But in the end, we bought an aluminum ramp that comes apart (cuts the weight in 1/2) and also folds (cuts the overall size in 1/2). The ramp arrived yesterday. We will try it out this weekend, providing Richard is well enough to go to church.

I haven't tried loading the chair yet, but looks simple enough. We will be transporting the ramp in a special carrying area that a volunteer created on the tongue end of the trailer. But given the cost and the fact that it is easy to cart, we will store it in the trunk of the car. No use tempting fate. This ramp is Christmas for both of us. We can't afford to replace it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Our trailer was in the driveway yesterday morning. It had evidently been delivered either pretty late in the evening or very early in the morning. The man who was working on it had said he and his wife would be going out of town for two weeks. It was very thoughtful of him to make sure we had it available during that period.

He has removed the steel ramp and replaced the original tail gate using hinges. He also put in some hardware to facilitate carrying a lighter, removable ramp on the tongue end of the trailer. A loaner ramp was in that area. His aluminum ramp folds in half, and because the spaces between the ramps braces was large enough that the wheelchair wheels would get caught, he has placed small pieces of plywood in them. This ramp is still a bit heavy, but certainly better than the steel ramp when it comes to weight.

Now I can move the trailer on my own again. I have also ordered a light weight portable wheelchair ramp on line. It separates into two sections and each section folds up. They can be carried with handles like two suitcases and stored in the car trunk. The ramp should be delivered in a couple weeks.

While this project is far from complete, the progress has been remarkabe. It has provided the gift of friendship between people who, to this point, did not know of the other's existance. It has also provided for a much needed service, a true blessing all the way around. We have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The last Blog I wrote, I was so stressed out. But I gave it to the Lord and He does answer prayer. Most of us believers have had this expreience where, having tried to handle a situation on your ow and failed, you finally turn it over to Him. Why don;t we just do that in the first place? Or if we do, why do we then pick the problem back up and toy around with it instead of keeping hands off?

Well heres the latest. I did not pick it back up. It took nearly 2 weeks, but I did not pick it back up.
1) I went in for my physical yeaterday and got a really good report card. I am good to go for surgery.
2) The guy who put the steel ramp called today wanting to know how I was handling the weight. I was quite honest with him. It is just too heavy for me to manage. He was OK with that. He came over and we figured out a different approach. He took the trailer home with him and will work on it tomorrow. First he will remove the steel ramp (it will be used over the deck stairs to allow outside access for Richard to get on the deck) and replace it with the original tailgate. Then he is going to modify a light weight aluminumn ramp for our temporary use while we look for a more permanent solution. Since I will be laid up for awhile starting about 4 weeks from now, I will have time to "shop" on line for a ramp.

Buying a ramp was not something I planned, but that's the way it goes. At least the trailer will be useable until I can get one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I am sooo stressed. I have a physical in about a week and am sure my BP is off the wall. It all centers around Richard's power chair. While having this chair gives him a small degree of independence he so needs, it is driving me up the wall.

1) We had to provide medical records (EEG, MRI, neurological/orthopedic evaluations) to the VA Clinic in Eugene for Richard, showing a medical need (April) and wait several months for a recommendation from the Dr. there.

2) Go to Roseberg to the VA Hospital (July) to be evaluated and take measurements.

3) The chair was approved (Aug), along with a lift to facilitate it being transported. But since our vehicle is not of sufficient weight to handle a lift, they canceled the order (VA does not pay for any sort of chair transport other than a lift). So when I called (early Sept) to see what was taking so long, I was told not just the order for the lift was canceled, but the whole thing - including the chair. They were sorry and would look into it. Long story short - the manufacturer didn't get the cancellation and the chair was delivered to the VA that same day. It arrived here just before Richard's birthday (mid Sept), but was too big and did not have the reclining feature we were promised.

4) A representative came out (early Oct) to remeasure and ordered a new seat for the chair. It arrived and they came and took the chair to Eugene, promising to have it back the next day. It did not come back for four days (mid Oct). But it did have the right size seat (several inches narrower to allow going through doors) and it did recline.

5) We had been looking at trailers to haul the chair all this time. They were available, but so far outside any one's budget that it was down right depressing. Rick was looking on Craig's List in the Seattle, Portland and Salem areas. He found several that sounded promising and we actually called some. We settled on a very small trailer in Salem, went up and looked at it, and made arrangements to have it delivered (late Oct). It is just the right size and very light. easy for me to handle.

6) We next had to put on a hitch and electrical harness to the car. We called everywhere, went to dealerships, private parties, wrecking yards, everywhere we and anyone else could think of. Finally we went back to the first place we had called, U-Haul. At $314.55 they were the least expensive and so we bit the bullet (early Nov).

7) But when I tried to hook up the electrical to the trailer, the connections wouldn't marry. So I called a friend from church who is a retired electrician. He came over and took a look. He bought some new parts and replaced the outdated connection and some lights, as well, another $20.00.

8) Our grandson Chris spent a couple days making minor modifications to the trailer. He attached PVC hoops and added a cover to keep the chair dry. He put in grommets to the tarp and attached hardware. He modified the tailgate to serve as a ramp. Parts and supplies were in the order of $100. But the ramp was to short and if he made it longer, it would have been too heavy for me to handle it. By this time Richard was chomping at the bit to use his chair to go to church. So we did. It was a bear. I had to put blocks under the tailgate and put an additional piece of plywood from there to the ground in order to get an angle that the chair would climb. By the time I got home I was so stressed from trying to load (even with help) that chair I didn't even want to talk about it.

9) We called the folks who had put the ramp on the house when I broke my leg and were told that for safely reasons, they didn't do ramps on anything mobile. So we called Love, Inc. They were going to give us the number for the folks who had just said no. On finding they wouldn't do it, the woman on the phone said she would ask her husband if he would give it a go. He would, and he did. He went way out of his way to do it (2nd week in Nov). It works great. This same guy is working on getting a trailer winch to help raise and lower the expanded steel ramp that he gathered materials for from as far away as Salem and fabricated in his shop, then attached to the steel frame of the trailer. So far, parts and supplies for this ramp have come to only $58.00. Two problems, the trailer is now so heavy and off balance that I can neither lift the end of it to attach it to the car, nor move it to the driveway without someone else's assistance.

10) Will the additional weight from the winch help with the balance or will it just make things worse? So many people have tried to help with this. So many "things" have happened to complicate the issue. I need to be able to manipulate this trailer, load and unload the chair. I need to be able to move the trailer from the street, up a short incline to store it in the driveway, all of these by myself.

Please pray for me. My nerves are absolutely shot. I am scheduled for surgery in December and all this needs to be done beforehand so I can recover without being stressed. Yes, I need to leave it in the Lord's hands.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

So many changes

Life brings many changes. As you get older, those changes become more pronounced. It takes more time to accomplish anything. You are forced to lower your standards because not everything can be accomplished. You don't fully recover from what you do do and some things just plain don't happen at all.

It has been quite apparent for anyone paying any attention at all, that as I need to take over more and more of the routine chores at home, I am less and less capable of doing so. Richard is now using a power wheelchair because he has very poor balance and his left arm no longer functions well (deteriorating bone, nerves and connective tissue). This makes it hard for him to manipulate a manual wheelchair. At the same time, my arthritis makes it difficult, if not impossible to do such simple chores as opening a jar, and I have trouble holding onto small items like a needle and even mildly heavy objects. The condition of my left foot makes walking painful. The longest bone in the inside of my left foot (between my big toe and ankle) is sitting cockeyed. Only a small portion of the bone is actually articulating with the bones on either end. In addition, the 2nd toe is what is called a "hammer toe". One of the joints in the toe is rigid and locked at an angle. The 2nd toe on my right foot is this way too.

My podiatrist has scheduled me for surgery on December 19 to correct at least part of the situation on the left foot. So I will be laid up for several weeks of recovery. They will cut out the joint at the base of the left big toe, insert a pin to hold the long foot bone closer to a normal position and pin the 2nd left toe at the same time. The hope is that this will prevent additional tork to the foot bone and reduce the pain of walking. Oh, I should be better able to wear something other than Berk's again. Of course my feet will still need heavy duty arch supports because I have developed flat feet.

Our grandson Chris has agreed to stay with us and perform vital chores such as laundry and fetching the mail during my recovery. I will be in a wheelchair and/or on crutches again. But I learned how to manage a surprising number tasks when I broke my leg and later had a total knee replacement. So we will manage.

Richard and I have decided to spend the holidays at home this year. Just too many crowds, too much activity, and too many barriers to our abilities. Not a problem. We can still have a nice dinner, watch the TV specials and will still expect friends and family to drop by.

Changes in ability, activity, and in all other aspects of living. We are really feeling our age this year. I've heard that getting old is not for sissies. I can now vouch for that statement from personal experience. The alternative is not acceptable. So I will get up every day, do what I can, and the rest will just have to go wanting. No sense worrying about those thing you have no control over anyway.