Letters November 2012

EDITOR: Our first three letters come from readers who responded to our September cover story (“Election 2012: Left, Right, Disabled?”) online at newmobility.com.

No Excuse
Being disabled is no excuse for not voting. Whether there is access to a polling site or not, every state has absentee ballots — a person can vote from the comfort of their own home. My son didn’t even start voting until he was disabled.
Valerie Misch

Voting Barriers are Real
With all due respect, I find it difficult to believe you know every situation for every disabled voter. Pretty simplistic and unhelpful to assume because your son is able to vote, the rest of us don’t face barriers. Fact of the matter is, every polling station should be accessible, period. As someone who uses a wheelchair because of a degenerative neurological condition, and lives alone, I find it rather offensive that you think we should be marginalized rather than being accommodated.
William Keaveney

ADA is Critical
I’m all over the map on politics, but I’m old enough and aware enough that I see any criticism of the ADA as ignorance. What people with disabilities need is full integration into the mainstream. That’s a realistic goal. In the United States, everything necessary to living a full life as a person with a disability is about money. And the simplest way for an average person to attain money is education and employment. It takes only a little research to see that most people with disabilities are poor, which in turn means we are under-employed. It also takes only a short leap of logic to know that the poor (disabled or not) get the short end of the stick in American society. Self-reliance is bold talk. Self-reliance with an economic and social boot on your neck is useless.
Gary Presley

NM1112_lettersMoved by Column
I was moved by Tim Gilmer’s recent column [“Bye, Bye, Lenny,” Bully Pulpit, September 2012]. I was a very active athlete a long time ago and am becoming less and less mobile due to FSHD muscular dystrophy. I am writing to say thanks for this well-written essay, and I have just called Chrissy to renew my lapsed subscription. Really great writing.
Jim Hargaden, Armchair Anglers
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Infection: A Killer
Sad am I for you that Lenny had to go [Bully Pulpit, September 2012]. Glad am I for you that infection did not kill you. Scared for me am I that there but by the Good Grace of God go I.

Literature from the University of Alabama in Birmingham says infection is a leading killer of SCI survivors. We must take care of our skin. It is the body’s first line of defense. We must act fast to treat breaks in our skin. We must seek professional medical help quickly when the warning signs of infection are present: fever, redness, pain, malaise, lethargy, and more. We must value and pay attention to our bodies so that we don’t lose any more parts. SCI is more than enough loss for one lifetime.
Ernest Laird
Mobile, Alabama

Center of Gravity Off?
What about power chair center of gravity and center of fore-aft balance issues? [Innovations: “Performance Positioning,” September 2012]. My wife has a year-old Permobil C300 power chair that is dangerously unstable. Neither the seller nor the manufacturer seem able to fix it. Problem appears to stem from a decision to move the batteries from the far rear bottom position on her old chair to a much higher position between and slightly forward of the drive-wheel center. Unsurprisingly, the C300 wants to tip over forward on the slightest down-slope and feels as though it is more likely to tip over sideways. This means that traversing any down-ramp, however slightly sloped, or crossing any side-slopped surface, requires assistants to prevent such tip-overs. Any new innovations that address this problem?
J. Howard Harding
Akron, Ohio

No More Mesh Seats?
I’ve been a wheelchair user for 43 years. When I got my first Quickie II in 1991, it had a mesh seat made of the same material as a trampoline. It was breathable and flexible, the best seat I’ve ever had [“Performance Positioning,” September 2012]. The next two Quickies I got had the same kind of seat. I can no longer find that mesh seat. I am mobile enough that I don’t need a cushion, but I don’t like sitting on a seat that feels like cement. Does anyone know who produces those mesh seats anymore?
Nanette Holmes
Yuma, Arizona

Southwest is Best
SouthWest is my go-to airline [Travel Matters: “Air Travel 101” – newmobility.com]. Pre-board and choose your seat. When I explained exactly what I needed to the on-flight airline personnel, they did everything to accommodate my needs. Time your bathroom trips to between drink services. While having your own chair at an airport is most desirable, if there is a tight connection time-wise to be made between flights, be adamant about getting airport assistance. An airport tech ran me through O’Hare in Chicago, on and off a transport train, up to the gateway of the plane that was waiting for me. Everything that they do will reflect your attitude about the situation. Remain calm. Be firm about what you need (you do know best), and have a sense of humor.
Kristen Weaver
New Britain, Connecticut

Sweet Equality
My best story (and I have plenty) is not about myself [“The Tao of Poo,” July 2012]. I grew up as a T12-L1 para. On my honeymoon, my husband, who has no disability, got food poisoning the first day. The next morning, after hours of him being sick, I went into the bathroom to get showered for the day and found his underwear in the garbage. I’m sure it was really not the most compassionate thing, but I came out of the bathroom laughing, and all I could say was “’Able-bodies’ crap their pants, too?” I’m sure he was mortified, but it was a relief to me to know shit happens to all of us.
Brenda Kotewa
University of Idaho

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