Sunday, 17 January 2016

Ah, snow

Most of the folks that I have talked to, who rely on wheelchairs for legs, all agreed that snow sucks. Snow is super tough to push through, like riding your bike on the loose sand of a beach. It gets caught up in the tire treads, it jams in the front wheels, it picks up salt, sand and anything else you roll over. Then you bring it into the house. It's not easy to take off your tires like you take off your boots. You wipe your tires down with a towel or put one under the chair while it melts, but you still leave tracks behind. It's messy. I have a second set of tires for outdoors, knobby mountain bike type tires, that we put on if I am going farther than to the car. I don't even have to get out of my chair, Theo lifts up one side, pops out the tire with the push button quick release and installs the other tire. It works brilliantly - when he's home.

You know how there are lots of different types of snow, depending on the temperature? Well, I think that will be the case for me - it will depend on the type of snow. Today was cold and crisp and the snow was light with a hard base of ice below. Good enough conditions for me, and I loved being out there today. I got to see the kids do their somewhat deadly snow wrestling.

I was prepared for it. I had on my new snow pants and my grippy mitts. The snow pants are not ideal as they require some maneuvering to get on with lots of rolling side to side to get up. And the mitts? Well, they were doubled up - push rims are made of aluminum and they are super cold to handle - forget heated steering wheels, I need to invent heated push rims. So far as I could feel, with the exception of one thumb, I was warm. As my skiers would say, I know how to dress for winter.

So I pushed my way down the driveway, all the way to the end. I am sure I saw a car go by whose passenger did a double take when they saw me out there. So I wondered today, as I was outside with the kids, if any of the people who said "snow sucks" loved snow like me before they found themselves to need a wheelchair?  Because for now, I think it is okay. So long as it stays cold, I will welcome the snow. Down the road, I may say something different, but that will be then, and not now.

So these were all my thoughts before I got back into the house. I needed to come in. So Oliver held the door for me, and held my chair as I transfered into bed to undress. Theo was not around to change my wheels, so I rode my outdoor tires into the bedroom. Because those tires are so much fatter, my brakes don't work and I have not mastered the transfers-with-no-brakes thing yet. So there I am sitting on the edge of the bed now, Oliver gone back outside, and I start to slide. You know how slippery the inner lining of snow pants is? Now I am fighting to stay on the edge of the bed, my legs spasm out straight which forces me to work even harder to stay on the bed. Boots still on my feet, I am working to stop my leg spasm so I can get one leg up and then the other. By now my heart is racing from adrenaline (not wanting to land on the floor) and work - every muscle from my diaphragm down is taught - and not in a helpful way. It took me 10 minutes to haul my legs up on the bed, get my snow pants and my boots off. I was done. It was the hardest work I have had to do in a long time. Harder than physio, harder than swimming, even harder than the exoskeleton.

So, snow? I guess, but I won't go it alone next time. Just in case.


  1. Thanks for this post, Julie. I would never have thought about all of the necessary, and perilous-to-do-alone, steps both before and after going outside to play. Glad you managed it--you go!

  2. Sorry I have not been checking on you lately. I have not forgotten you. There is a novel and a movie you might like. Smilla's Sense of Snow.


  3. Thanks for continuing to write and post, Julie. You are so open and honest. Thinking of you all the time, keep fighting!