As I'm typing, Connor's asleep in the next room, listening to one of his favorite CDs: Heartbeat, Kodo's 25th anniversary album. Kodo is a taiko band-- Japanese drumming-- but they combine all sorts of world music elements in their CD. It's not exactly what I would call relaxing, but Connor seems to love it. I think one of the reasons he enjoys it so much is that he can hear some of the drumming and feel the vibrations even with his hearing aids off.
He and I both had a rough day today. We had to sell our little car, as the clutch is broken (to the tune of 1300 dollars or so) and to fix it would be almost more than the car is worth. Since Jer will be deploying at some point in the relatively near future, there's not really any point in buying a new car only to have it sit for a year. So we sold the Hyundai to a very nice man who was looking for a safer car to drive his eight month old daughter around in, and just happened to be an Hyundai auto tech, so he could fix it up for much less.
At any rate, Connor and I went by this gentleman's place of work to sign over the title. I had Connor's wheelchair with me as I wasn't sure how long we would be there and it's very difficult to hold and sign paperwork when you have a 20 something pound wiggly kid in one arm. There was no wheelchair ramp to get to the service station-- my choices were between walking all the way down the parking lot to the outside of the center and going around through the car entrance, or to try and take the wheelchair up a really short flight of stairs with a couple of steps, a big landing, and then a couple more steps. I've taken Connor up steps like these in his stroller probably 8,000 times, so I didn't think the wheelchair would be any different.
A very nice man at the dealership had seen me assembling Connor's wheelchair out the window and offered to lend me a hand, which I accepted. He lifted the chair up on to the wheelchair base for me. Unfortunately while I heard the click of it snapping into place, and jiggled it to make sure it had caught, I failed to look up under the wheelchair to assure that the front hooks were fully engaged. You can probably see where this is going.
I took Connor up the first two stairs with no problem, stopped on the landing for a moment, tilted the front wheels up to go up the next stairs, and then watched in horrified disbelief as the entire chair lifted off the base in what seemed like slow motion, pivoted up, and landed face-down on the concrete stairway.
I frantically turned the chair over and inspected a very, very scared and very, very sad Connor. I grabbed my phone out of my back pocket as I turned the chair over, expecting to have to call 911, especially since Connor is only secured to the chair by a lap belt and so should have hit the concrete head first. I was absolutely amazed to discover that though he was scared, he wasn't bleeding at all. Apparently the chair had fallen so that Connor's head was in between steps instead of on them, and the frame of the chair had protected the rest of his body. We sat down on the steps and I cautiously inspected him from head to toe. Miraculously, not only were there no broken bones or head injuries, there wasn't a scratch on the kid. He calmed down pretty quickly, and signed back to my questions that he was scared but he didn't hurt anywhere.
I think Connor's guardian angel deserves a serious pay raise.
So after we finished up with selling the car, we drove home, Connor went down for a nap, and I had a short shower and a fit of hysterics. I learned two basic lessons about Connor's wheelchair from this experience. I will never, ever ever ever attempt to take Connor up any stairs in his wheelchair ever, ever ever again. I will always, always always physically check under the chair to make sure that all of the hooks are engaged that should be, even if I've heard the click of them engaging and checked the chair by feel.
Connor also learned a lesson about his wheelchair. Connor learned that wheelchairs are scary, evil demons that make you fly up into the air and fall down with no warning. Connor is now (and rightfully so) absolutely terrified of his wheelchair and doesn't want to have anything to do with it.
Thank God he's okay.
6 days ago