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Writings by Kirin-Rosenbaum




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February 21, 2008
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They say the best way to know a man is to walk a mile in his shoes.  But how to know a man if he can’t walk?  One solution is to roll a mile on his wheels.  Which is exactly what I spent my day doing.  As part of my education in Occupational Therapy I was to take a wheelchair out into public and see the world from a different perspective.

The first challenge of the day was simply getting the wheelchair from the fourth floor of the College of St. Catherine’s to my car at the far parking lot.  Did I mention that it is about ten degrees and icy outside?  I didn’t?  Well…it is.  Welcome to Minnesota.

With my backpack draped over the back of the chair I navigated my way towards the tiny elevator.  Another gentleman was using the elevator and allowed me to wheel inside first.  Which was very nice, but when he stepped in right behind me, I couldn’t turn around.  Although I knew this particular individual was safe it was never the less unnerving to have my back to him with no real way of turning around.  It added another level of vulnerability to the cramped quarters of the elevator.

After fighting my way up the steep ramp to get out of the building I headed off towards my car.  Halfway there I ended up with one of the large wheels caught in an uneven crack in the pavement.  I tried a few things, but the other wheel was just spinning uselessly.

“Well…@#&%.”  I muttered.

It was very temping to just get up and pull the chair out of the crack.  However I spent a few more minutes problem solving and escaped.  Despite the mechanical advantage of the wheels it had now taken three times as long to get to my car (normally I cross through an area with steps, but today I had to find another way around).

On my way to the car I made another discovery.  Two years ago I snapped my collar bone in half.  I have some restricted range of motion in my right shoulder because of it.  Normally this is not something that I notice in my daily life.  However it means that my ‘stroke’ on the right side of the chair isn’t as strong as the left.  Which of course if I’m not paying attention causing me to drift towards the left.

Before heading out to run some errands I stopped by my house and picked up my padded bike gloves and a canvas bag.  Petsmart was easy to get into with their wide automatic doors.  The isles there are also very wide, and in the fish and bird department I could actually reach the top shelves.  I didn’t have such luck in the dog isles because those were higher.  However there are so many employees at this store that help was not far, they even carried the 45 pound of dog food that I bought out to the car for me.  

I spent about an hour moving around Petsmart.  Their bathroom was easy to enter because the door was very light and didn’t have a strong spring on it.  There was only one sink, but it was at my level.  I even found that the cash registers were set wide enough apart to easily navigate, and one of the employees carried the food through the register for me.  

After an hour moving around my broken shoulder was aching from the motion of spinning the wheels.  My palms were killing me, despite the fingerless gloves, and I knew that by the end of another hour I was going to have blisters on both thumbs (I do).  However, I still needed to hit the grocery store.

The grocery store and the Petsmart are in the same parking lot.  Normally I would move my car over to the grocery because the way the parking lot is set up it would be hard to return the cart if I didn’t.  However getting the wheelchair in and out of the car was such a hassle that I decided to risk wheeling my way across.  

I quickly learned that the parking lot is gently sloped upward.  On one occasion I truly feared that a car was going to run me over.  But I made it into the store.  Normally I’d grab a cart, but now I wouldn’t have any way to push the cart and the chair.  This was one of the reasons I brought along the canvas bag that was now over the back of my chair.  This limited how much I could buy at one time, but without help I couldn’t see any other way.

Unlike Petsmart everything in the grocery store seemed to be out of reach.  The way the produce was on slanted tables meant I only had access to a small amount of it.  The refrigerated veggies were even harder to get to because they had one bottom shelf that held the air cooler that you needed to lean over to reach the goods.

I found myself wanting an item on the top shelf, but luckily there was a manager near by who was more than happy to bring the product to me.  On three other occasions I had to ask for favors from fellow shoppers, all of whom helped me.  

There was one danger in the grocery store that I had never thought about.  The first time I reached out to get something off a metal shelf a one inch blue spark arched from my finger to the shelf and gave me a nasty shock.  To make it worse I was wearing my iPod and the jolt traveled up into the earphones.  Ouch!!  

The smooth tires on the floor were building up a charge.  The further I moved without grounding the more intense the shock became.  I’m embarrassed how long it took me to figure this out.  

I mean here in Minnesota the dry air causes static shocks every once in a while anyway.  Then I recalled the words of the immortal author Ian Fleming: “One is chance, twice is coincidence, but three times…that’s enemy action”.  After the third shock, I realized that there was an enemy at work and that it was the chair.

It got so bad that I had to take my keys out of my pocket and touch the keys to the metal shelf before touching any of the product.  The key acted as a grounder and the spark arched from the key to the metal.  In experiment I wheeled from one end of the store to the other and then brought the key to a shelf.  I ended up with a two inch spark that made an impressive noise.  

The register was a little difficult to get through, a touch too narrow.  However I managed.  The credit card swipe machine was on a pivot so that I could easily access it.  Getting the groceries back into the canvas bag was a little difficult due to the confined space at the end of conveyer belt.

At the end of a few hours my arms were tired and my palms were painful, and even a few hours later I’m having trouble gripping objects without pain.  The whole experience was very enlightening.  Although I had many advantages over many who are truly living in wheelchairs.

The most obvious of which is that I knew that at any time I could leave the confines of the wheelchair if I had to or if I felt threatened.  Also not being paralyzed I have the advantage of trunk strength and balance.  I also did not have the equipment to transfer from the car to the chair, which is one of the more difficult maneuvers.

My own personality helped as well because I am not self conscious and therefore was not disturbed by the way some people were uncomfortable.  A lot of people would practically leap out of the way if they were caught off guard by my approach.  I noticed a lot of people greeted me with a smile, but that may simply be because I did the same.  

So I did not truly learn all the struggles of a life with disability, however, I do have a better appreciation for the every day tasks that I take for granted.
I really did learn a lot from this.

It makes me want to do a sequel to Caught Out in the Rain. :giggle:
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:iconchiakutheshinigami:
Chiakutheshinigami Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2009
intresting story(yes I know it is true, I could think of any better word sorry me bad engslih :P)

I have done something like that but I pretended to be mute and it was just as funny...or yes it was funny.
A friend of mine had to be my signer (interpreter) and he couldn't that much in SL. So the result was quiet intresting.

Great text:D
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2009
Thanks!
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:iconchiakutheshinigami:
Chiakutheshinigami Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2009
you are welcome
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:iconkpword:
kpword Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2008  Professional Writer
This really puts things into perspective.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2008
that it does
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:iconwings90:
Wings90 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
Unfortunately, I have to agree with ~Lathrine ... sadly, there's no way anyone could get around our town in a wheelchair alone. In fact, all of Hungary is behind on such things. :no: The closest thing I've ever tried was spending a few hours at home with closed eyes, but that doesn't come anywhere near what you did. I admire you for it, this must be an interesting job...

But you know, I've been shocked in bigger stores before, without a wheeelchair. In fact, there was a time when it happened all the time. I don't know why. And only in bigger stores. I started touching something metallic as often as possible, but even then I got shocks... Instead of a key, I used my snake ring to prevent myself from being shocked :) Another time when everyone in my class gets shocked is when we play basketball in PE. We're dreading it.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
the shocking happens most often in dry conditions and a lot of those big stores have dehumidifiers to keep their product from getting mold.

It was a wonderful learning experiance, but I can safely say that I am very glad to be walking again!
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:iconlathrine:
Lathrine Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
I'd have absolutely no way to either get into our house (lots a stairs...), or even get around town XD You could say that... our town isn't even very walker friendly, to a wheel chair would be even worse XD
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
Ya know here in the good old US of A there are laws about such things and if you can't gain access to a public place by wheelchair you have every right to turn the law on them!
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:iconlathrine:
Lathrine Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
Aw sweet! C: Now that is just awesome =3
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
Yup, the American's with Disablities Act. ADA for short.
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:iconwings90:
Wings90 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
I absolutely agree with you... sadly, there's no way anyone could get around our town in a wheelchair alone. In fact, all of Hungary is behind on such things. :no:

/off:

About the second half of your sig:
FOR PONY!
:rofl:
Reply
:iconlathrine:
Lathrine Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
*nods* Yeah, I hear you. Heck, our town hardly can take care of the roads, let alone the rare sidewalk.




FOR PONY! XDD :lmao:
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:iconwings90:
Wings90 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
Yeah. And you know what's even sadder? That the exact same thing is true for our capital city, Budapest, too. :no:


/off:
LFG and Richard rulz! Best UD lock ever. (That, coming from me, a NE drood, means a lot.) But my fav was when he started quoting Martin Luther King. "I have a dream..." Roflmao.
Methinks if anyone's reading this they must be looking at us strangely...
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:iconlathrine:
Lathrine Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2008
:no: Yeah, it's sad, seeing how all these towns/cities 'take care' of basic transit.


/off:
Haha, yes! (Ima NE hunter XD) Roflcopter. Richard has some of the best quotes. "Well, looks like there's a long road ahead of yes" "Lets litter it with bodies!"
Methinks they'd look at yes strangely anyways... XD
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:iconkirin-rosenbaum:
Kirin-Rosenbaum Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008  Student Photographer
I would but then I couldn't get in or out of my house.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
I couldn't bring the chair into my house either.
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:iconkirin-rosenbaum:
Kirin-Rosenbaum Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008  Student Photographer
oh so you just used it while out... might be an experience since i take the city bus
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
Yeah, my house in not wheelchair freindly, there are stairs to get in and once you're in here the doors are wide enough.
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:iconkirin-rosenbaum:
Kirin-Rosenbaum Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008  Student Photographer
Yeah but it would still be fun to do while out.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2008
It was a great learning exsperiance!
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:iconkirin-rosenbaum:
Kirin-Rosenbaum Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2008  Student Photographer
I bet.
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:iconmaeix2:
Maeix2 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I used to wheel about in grandmas chair when I was younger and she was still alive. Even just around the house it was darn akward.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
Very!
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:iconpegasusunbound:
PegasusUnbound Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008   Writer
Yeah, my sister has Cerebral Palsy and Ataxia, but not to a degree that compromises her metal ability or one that puts her in a wheel chair. Still, she has to go through similar compensations when out and about, and she is self-conscious, so the stares she gets for her awkward gait make her feel bad.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
It can be hard when there is no obvious physical problem, like in CP, cause then everyone is curious and they do tend to stare and that is a shame.
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:icongatebee:
gatebee Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
Wow very good experiment. I wish everyone would do that for a day especially those people who park at disable parking spaces without a permit.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
I personally vandalize any non-disabled car parked in a disabled space. :giggle:

It is something that everyone should try. I have to say I am pleased to walking again.
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:icongatebee:
gatebee Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
hehehe vandilize not a good thing if you get caught ... property damage if a criminal offense.

we just give parking violation tickets to offenders costing the $275.00.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
Bah!
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:iconleonawindrider:
LeonaWindrider Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
Very enlightening, actually. The thing about the build up of static never even occurred to me...
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2008
it is amazing what you can learn by actually doing something
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:iconhonor-to-serve:
honor-to-serve Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Wow! Sounds like quite the experience! Look up a few comments to see a remedy for getting shocked leaving your car...

I have been tempted to take that challenge just for the fun of it (ok, so maybe not FUN... but you get my point.) I have helped out in the Special Olympics many times, and I have always had a heart to try and see things from another's view.

So good job!
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
If you take your metal key and touch a grounding metal before getting out of your car you'll be just fine.

I strongly suggest that you try this (I'd suggest it to anyone) it really does give you a better feel for how difficult even the most mundane task can become.
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:iconapophis906:
Apophis906 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
oh wow. Its not dry air, its revenge.;p At one time I was recovering from a pretty bad injury. For months I only had the use of my left arm(im a righty). Also I wasn't able to sleep in my bed and had to sleep on the couch since if I got in the bed I couldn't get back out. By the end I was able to learn to do things with my right arm messed up. I was able to drive and even at one time rode my motorcycle around.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Are you saying that something I've been doing has brought these shocks upon me?

It's amazing how people learn to adapt!
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:iconapophis906:
Apophis906 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
Maybe its just fates way of getting even with you for all you do to Daniel. ;p
I know, was pretty amazed I could do it. Of course never learned to sign my name with my left hand,but oh well.
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Daniel: Hee-hee

Phoenix: Watch it, punk! I've still got lots of idea for you.

Daniel: :sprint:
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:iconapophis906:
Apophis906 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
LOL
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:icondrayon84:
Drayon84 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
I guess you could call that a 'shocking experience'
Reply
:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Har, har, har...


Everyone seems to likes the 'me in pain' bit. I thought you guys just liked Danny-whumping...but is seems that all is fair in love and war.
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:icontifreak8x:
tifreak8x Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
lol, the whole shocking part is fun. Ford makes their cloth interior out of some wierd fabric.Any and all Ford vehicles I drive in during the winter will give me heck of a shock when getting out. I even experimented. I dipped my finger in gas before arcing off. It was quite amusing. XD

(Sorry, sometimes driven to crazy actions. :giggle:
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:iconhonor-to-serve:
honor-to-serve Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
I have that same problem here. But I learned a trick - Hold on to the car door before you move. Keeping your grip, get out of the car - do NOT lift your hand or you will get shocked. Once you are fully out of the car, let go. I haven't gotten shocked all year!
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Glad you find my pain 'fun'. :giggle:
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:iconlost-song:
Lost-song Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
:giggle: Daniel zapping Jack?
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:iconphoenix-cry:
Phoenix-Cry Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
Everyone is laughing...I'm the one getting shocked this time. :giggle:
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:iconlost-song:
Lost-song Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2008
It could make for a great scene!
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