Preparedness


A long time ago, I read that new science/technology brings with it a set of problems which can only be solved by new advances.  You may need a while to digest it — But, I’ve found  it to be valid.

As a wheelchair user for more than 50yrs, I have been dependent on technology for some rather basic functions most of my life.  And, as I’ve aged  my strength/health have changed — I now need more and more equipment to get through each day.  But, who among us isn’t relying on the many modern devices which most citizens of an industrialized nation take for granted?

Whether still in your teens or you are considered a ‘Senior Citizen’, what would you do without a computer or cellphone for several days?  Can you imagine how being without electricity for a week would reek havoc on you and those around you?

Even though I considered myself pretty prepared, I found out just how much I had overlooked during my recent computer crash.

I don’t often purchase extended warranties — I think the cost is generally a lot more than they are worth.  However, when I purchased a new $1100 desktop computer in September 2008 I decided to pay the fee to add 2 years to the manufacturer’s warranty.  It was a good thing that I did — the warranty extension probably saved me from spending at least $500!

It took more than 6 hours of in-my-home troubleshooting and parts swapping to get my machine to an operational state again — partly because the hard-drive replacement shipped to the technician before he started my job was a defective re-manufactured drive and not a new one as he expected!

Now begins the tedious reinstallation of software and data

The technician installed the hard-drive and operating system, but it’s up to me to attempt to recover whatever additional programs and data I had before the crash.  This is where I learned that I had several weak-links in my chain — and, one of those was me!

I had my current data on an outboard drive (a Clickfree automatic backup device) that seems pretty much intact — all 250 gigabytes of it.  The manufacture’s website says that no system or program files are stored on the backup.  However, as I review my files, there does appear to be a lot of program files, and maybe some system files, included with the data.  So, I’m cautiously working to understand what is the quickest and safest way to get back to were I had been on June 30th without messing-up what the tech has installed —  it is not looking easy…  or quick!  8-(

Many of the programs I had installed were downloads with no disc involved — some paid, some free.   So, I can eventually get most of the free programs back by searching the web and downloading again — the paid ones may require me to pay the fee again depending on what records I have or whether the company can find info regarding my original purchase.

Another area of weakness I discovered was in my use of web-browsers.  I use Firefox heavily and bookmark a lot of sites and use the TAG feature constantly.   But, I had never exported anything from Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer — YUCK!  All that is GONE now….

Live and Learn

It has been my goal to always learn something from the difficulties or disasters I experience.  By doing so, I hope to avoid making the same, or a similar, mistake more than once.  Which should save a lot of time and perhaps some money!

I’d like to hear about your personal experiences with computer crashes or whatever you’d like to share — any helpful hints would be appreciated (a comment-button is located at the top of each posting).  Your comments are always welcome and I read each one.

A disturbing CBS News Report link was recently sent to me by a family member.  The report describes the dangers to you and your confidential information which is being stored in copy machines since about 2002.

Whenever a document containing your information was placed on these newer digital machines to be copied or faxed it is now on the hard-drive! Your photograph and social security number, as well as other sensitive data, may have been placed in a leased machine which is no longer under the control of your employer, doctor or health insurance company.

Due to the financial crisis of the last few years, many companies have closed their doors or sold some of their equipment. Regardless of the reason, large numbers of previously used digital copy machines are now being sold-off cheaply which have hard-drive storage. Where will it end-up — page after page of your data on the hard-drive can easily be printed and distributed.

I encourage everyone to view the short video to learn more:

CBS News video

I wrote a posting in January, entitled Pain in the Butt,  and described some of my earlier experiences with manual and electric wheelchairs.  I also commented on my newer pain experiences and how I hoped that a technology I was unfamiliar with (pressure mapping) might help me.

Well, after many failed attempts to get a prescription via my family-practice Nurse Practitioner, I was able to get the required document from my heart doc and scheduled the pressure testing.

Yesterday was the Big Day!

The pressure mapping was a little “unnerving” to me, because I needed to be lifted off my wheelchair so that the technician could place the sensor mat under my bottom.  My anxiety level was rising as the sling was being positioned for the lifting.  You see, since my release from the hospital in June 2004, my wife lifts me a minimum twice a day — once getting me out of bed and once getting me into the bed.  Occasionally its more than once each way per day.  So, to say that I have experience with the sensation and positional relationship of the sling would be an understatement.  And, I have had bad experiences in the past.

When I raised my concern with the staff that my body was being shifted and spun while the sling was being tugged/pulled into position and that I felt the sling was not what I had hoped for, I sensed a bit of hostility — and a feeling they felt questioning their skill or experience was offensive to them.

After I stated my case in a long and detailed manner

An attempt was made to find a sling of a slightly different design and assigned to the new person in the department.  Following a period of uneventful waiting, the young man who had been positioning the sling and I began working with what we had at hand.

Eventually, through our joint team work, the sling was in a more acceptable place and I was prepared to make an attempt.  However, it needed to be stopped before the pressure mat was positioned — I felt as if I was slipping out of the sling and my slacks were sliding-off.

After being return to my wheelchair and the sling underwent another readjustment, to a position more beneath my hips, we finally had a successful lift-off!  The mat was positioned upon my old wheelchair cushion, I was lowered upon it, and the pressure mapping was performed.

I was shown a display which looked a lot like the thermal imaging you may have seen which shows heat or cooling loss from a building — reds, yellows and greens.  As the technician explained what I was looking at, I was not surprised where she indicated the worst pressure points were located — I feel them pretty much constantly.

The next step got me excited about the likelihood of future pain relief

A number of different seat cushions had been placed on a physical-therapy table and the tech asked me if I’d like to try any of the different types — I was going to sample some seat cushions before they were purchased…  Woo hoo!  In my 50+ years as a wheelchair user, I have never been given the opportunity to sit on any seat cushions prior to owning them.

  • First one which I sampled was air-filled — it had a series of bladders (for want of a better term) a little larger than a man’s thumb covering the whole of the seat cushion.  It felt a little bit unstable to me — even after some of the air was removed.  But, the pressure points on my behind were experiencing some new found comfort.
  • Next came a gel cushion — it had two sections which were  placed side-by-side, so that each hip would have its own gel cushioning.  After the seat cushion was placed in my wheelchair the pressure mat was laid on and I was deposited on top.  Mapping results were clearly different than when I was on my original seat cushion — a lot smaller area of red.  And, I was surprised at how pleasant the gel seat cushion felt.
  • Lastly, another gel seat cushion.  This one had a large gel cushion section in a “reservoir” as the tech described it.  After everything was in place, mapping and I were both in agreement — this was the best gel cushion for me.  And, a huge improvement over any prior seat cushions I have ever used!

While all this activity was occurring

I noticed there appeared to be a weight gauge on the lift, which I asked about.  Soon I was weighed and the result was 63.3 kilograms.  Since I have not become a metric user they converted it for me — 139.552 pounds.  So,  I will be 140 when anyone asks how much my bony-self weighs.  😎

Every wheelchair user will have a slightly different posture and feel comfortable according to their own needs.  One thing to keep in mind, however — without a sense of feeling below waist level, the pressure points experienced while on their seat cushions are more likely to produce pressure sores, known as decubiti.  If the sore is not cared for and the pressure points not addressed, a serious health threat exists.  I’ve known paraplegic wheelchair users who developed an infection of a bone due to inadequately cared for pressure sores.

So, I’ve been fortunate in my life.  Even while I have been dealing with more pain in the last couple of years, my sense of feeling has saved me from a significant danger experienced by many wheelchair users — an infected open-wound.

Those of you reading this blog who have family members using a wheelchair — please look after their best interest and see that they have seat cushions which protect them from shearing in the area of the bony pressure points.

Live long and prosper.

This morning, a 10 foot-wide steel water pipe ruptured in the metropolitan Boston area which caused the loss of an estimated 8 million gallons of water. 

In order to maintain the flow of water for fire fighting and other critical uses, it was necessary to add untreated water to the pipes in the area.  As a result, people are being warned to bring any water that will be used for drinking or food preparation to a boil and maintain it at a rolling-boil for at least 1 full minute.  Failure to take appropriate precautions could result in serious illness.  However, the untreated water may be used for bathing, flushing and fire protection.

The rupture occurred in a custom made steel pipe which is less than 8 years old.  Cause of the break is unknown at this time.  Governor Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency.  He has requested that people avoid all unnecessary water usage until repairs are completed.  A total of 30 communities are reportedly effected.

This significant non-weather-related event, and its impact, should be a warning that you need to store drinking water in your home/apartment  — emergencies often happen without warning!

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) says the following:

You should have at least a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.

Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:

  • Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
  • Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.

How Should You Store Water?

To prepare safest and most reliable emergency supply of water, it is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open it until you need to use it.

Observe the expiration or “use by” date.

There are six basic categories of things you should stock in your home:

  • Water.
  • Food.
  • First Aid Supplies.
  • Clothing, Bedding and Sanitation Supplies.
  • Tools.
  • Special Items.

  Follow this link to the FEMA site to read their preparation guidelines.