I would like to share with you an experience I had this weekend. I was home by myself for the weekend. My wife needs to get away for her own sanity, and I enjoy being alone for a day or two. These separations, however, have not been without problems, but rather than cancel them we re-examine the procedures to improve the situation. We have worked out a relatively fool proof system over the years tweaking the protocol every time we felt we could make it safer. I have a LifeNet button which I wear all the time except at night when Marge is home. It has bailed me out of trouble more than once. She prepares meals ahead of time, an ample supply of drinks is left, and after a lot of time and effort, I have learned to empty my leg bag. Because of my need for certain supplies during a normal day I have attached a small storage bag to each of my wheelchairs. It is called an Armrest Organizer which I purchased from Case Logic ($9) online. I prefer to call it my “male bag” for obvious reasons. The bag attaches to the arm of my wheelchair using a Velcro strap and hangs down on the outside of the arm out of the way. When you want to use it you flip it onto your lap and it lands right side up. It opens very easily, however, while there are some interior organizational features I am unable to use them because of my quadriplegia.
Sunday I went outside to empty myself, and my chair malfunctioned. All of a sudden it stopped running because of a short in the wiring system. So here I was late in the afternoon sitting out on my lawn, with the proverbial storm moving in, and no way to get help. I was beyond the range of my LifeNet and was some distance from the neighbor’s house. Talk about feeling helpless and disabled. It was a rude reminder how vulnerable I really am and pretty scary. I remembered my male bag and the items it contained. I flipped it onto my lap, got out the whistle, and started to blow three loud blasts. Shortly my neighbor came, took my chair out of gear and with the help of his son, pushed me back into the house. He later told me his dogs in the house had heard the whistle and were going crazy. In addition to the whistle, the bag also contains pills, some money, a few energy bars, my Emergency Medical Information sheet, a ring pen and a magnet. As the Boy Scout motto says “Be Prepared”.