Today’s tale is a bit vulgar….but I find honesty to be the best policy.
As my faithful readers know, I, with no training or inherent skills, have become a wheelchair repair expert over the last few years. I was able to get a different BIL (code for brother-in-law) to transport the humungous wheelchair to the rehab center, so disabled BIL would be able to get out of bed every day. By the way, there is no service, or transport that will take an empty wheelchair…well….anywhere….you have to find your own way to get it there.
One day, I’m walking down the hall of the rehab center and the physical therapist is manually pushing the electric behemoth with my BIL in the chair.
“What’s up?” I ask her.
“Oh my God, I’m so glad you’re here. No one can figure out how to get this operational.”
Because it had been a month since my BIL was even in the chair, and memory issues are a part of his disease, he was of no help either. In 2 minutes, I had everyone operational and instructed for the forseeable future.
Then we went home.
I stayed with my BIL for about 6 hours that day. As happy as he was to be back in his apartment, he was feeling insecure and squeamish and not ready to be alone. I arrived home in time for an 8:00 PM conference call.
At 9:00 PM my phone rang.
“Hello, Cathy, this is the caregiver.”
“Hey, what’s up? Is he okay?”
“Oh, he’s fine, no problems. But we can’t plug in his wheelchair. It seems like a piece of the plug is missing that connects to the battery. So we can’t charge the chair.”
UGH. He needs that chair. He needs to be out of bed and as upright and mobile as possible to have a life where he goes to meals, talks to friends, plays SODUKU on his computer.
“Okay, I’ll come in the morning and look at it.” I must’ve been very tired. I’m still not a wheelchair repair person, what was I going to do?
Before I left the house, I called the wheelchair repair people, who told me the only thing they can do is order an entire new charger which would take 3 weeks. When I asked what he’s supposed to do in the meantime, wheelchair repair guy thought for a minute or two (really??? no one has ever asked you THAT before?) And told me he could look around and see if they had a loaner charger, but that would take a day or two.
As I set my hair on fire in protest (only in my mind) I went over to my BIL’s apt. examined the plug and set off for the rehab center. I checked his room, as they had just cleaned it, we called down to housekeeping, I went to the nurses’ station, therapy rooms, front desk and had the social worker call the ambulance transport to look for it. No dice.
I went to my book club and my French Class. Mai oui…..I do some things for my self!
Then I returned to his apartment, there was the charger plugged in. But as my engineer BIL told me, truthfully, it was smoke and mirrors. It wasn’t charging at all. I showed the plug to him and hoped he had some brilliant insight. Nope. So I said to him:
“Well, you know what Nana would say?” She had a fine adage for problems when something would just not fit into a hole.
“Yep,” he nodded, “put a little hair around it.” Yep, that’s what she always said.
Luckily BIL is a fiscal conservative and only used 3% of his power that day.
We then had the brilliant idea to call some local durable medical equipment providers and one dear soul sent me to Interstate Battery. As I was leaving with high hopes and the battery, my BIL said:
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but as an old man would say, I think you’re pissing up a rope!”
So with those axioms under my belt and a big huge 24 Volt battery in my arms like a newborn. I went to a big, ol’ manly grease monkey, full-of-testosterone battery warehouse.
And this is where the Good Samaritan works when he is not out on the road rescuing.
Keith worked for thirty or forty minutes to rig this battery charger so I could use it. The first thing he asked me is if it’s a male or female plug. I considered my Nana’s advice, but that didn’t lead me to any conclusion. I suppose I should have been able to deduct the answer, but I panicked and just looked as cute as I could. In that environment, I was a shoe-in.
By the way, there was never a missing part. It had been so abused over time by pulling it out by the cord that it basically pulled the charging plugs too far down into the casing.
Keith told me he has a few friends in wheelchairs and he sees this all the time, where they can’t get timely repairs and no one seems to care. He told me to just ‘Pay it Forward.’ I told him I try to do that, and he said, “well then, now it’s coming back to you!”
Sometimes…..”You just have to SMILE….and laughing never hurts, either.”
© Cathy Sikorski 2015