Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Why People in Wheelchairs Shouldn’t Watch the News

Tuned in to the local news this morning. I don’t want to hear about fatal car accidents, shootings, or the latest offensive statement to come out of our governor’s mouth. I’m lying. I can’t get enough of the gems that come out of our governor’s mouth, but that’s for another blog post. This time of year Kim and I like to know the weather forecast. Plus, I usually I get some news that I either enjoy, or that informs me, or both.

How did watching the local news work out for me this morning? Not so well.

Before the weather segment, I half listened to report of a fatal fire at a mobile home in some far away town. Frankly, I had no interest until I heard them say that the victim was, “confined to a wheelchair.” All of a sudden, the story had meaning for me. All of a sudden, I imagined myself going up in flames and not being able to get out of the house – happy thoughts on a Tuesday morning.

After the weather report, which was unusually mild for January by the way, the health segment addressed the evils of a sedentary lifestyle. The owner of the physical therapy clinic I visit twice a week made one of her occasional guest appearances. Today, she advised people who have office jobs to get up off their butts and move around throughout the day. She gave dire warnings about what can happen to those who sit too long. These included: obesity, musculoskeletal pain (here, she went into some detail), type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and depression. The morning news host summarized by saying, “There’s nothing good about sitting too long.”

I hate these well-intentioned stories. But, I would have to go off the grid to avoid them, and I'm not about to do that.

So, what did I learn this morning? First, people in wheelchairs should have well-developed fire prevention and escape plans. I don’t. Fires can spread quickly, and I can think of few worse ways to die. Second, upon further reflection, I can do more than what I’m doing to avoid the ravages of my sedentary life. Other than physical therapy twice a week, I can do little things every day, on my own. This was a wake-up call.

So, the question remains, will I make these changes, or will I simply conclude that people in wheelchairs shouldn’t watch the news? Vegas is giving even odds.


  1. I worry about these same two issues so often. I have one (portable) ramp to get out of my house. It goes down one step to my garage, and I have to press a button to open the garage door. But what if a fire starts in the garage? Many do. I've tried a few times to discuss it with my husband but he just laughs at me and calls me an alarmist.

    A few months ago I went to a party in a 24th floor condo. The fire alarm went off and they evacuated the entire building by the stairs. Elevators were disabled. All my friends and even my husband and son left me. I stayed in the condo and prayed it was a false alarm. It was, this time. But the whole situation was unnerving and showed me how I'd be trapped in a real emergency.

    And of course I hear those stories about a sedentary lifestyle. I do swim for an hour a day,in an outdoor unheated pool which is miserable this time of year! People think I'm either nuts to get in the pool when it's this cold, or very dedicated. I am neither. But when I don't swim for a day or two, my body freezes up. I can't imagine the condition I'd be in if I didn't have access to a pool (but why can't they heat it?!) In spite of 7 hours a week of swimming laps and 4 hours a week of (chair) yoga, my muscles are still atrophied. Legs and arms skinny as sticks, mid-section a shapeless blob and still spreading.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. I feel less alone knowing there are others with the same issues.

  2. Laurie, thanks so much for writing. Tell your husband that Mitch the blogger says he needs to take your request for multiple points of egress seriously! Also, it's a big problem that everyone abandoned you on the 24th floor. How do they justify their behavior? Regarding exercise, it's great that you're able to get so much pool time. Good for you!

  3. Mitch, I have a small ramp out my back door, but the entry room is so small that once I get in there I don't know how much time and mini-movements back and forth it would take to pull the door inward all the way so I could go through it. I guess I would just call 911 and have the Fire Department get me out! They are close enough.

    1. Webster, I think it's better to have your own, clear means of egress, just in case. Maybe have the fire department come over and help you work on it. That's what I plan to do.