Walking and Working with the Extenders

The first time I ever heard the term “extenders” applied to human effort and not necessarily to equipment utilized by the handicapped was in the office of a doctor who actually had disabilities. He redefined the word to mean that you never give up. Burdened by the ever-increasing impact of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) on my body, I had requested a wheelchair from Medicare and was told to make an appointment in Los Angeles with one Dr. Thomas Hedge, …

Blair Underwood is Not Our Mama’s ‘Ironside’

Warning:  Do not tune into NBC’s new “Ironside” with any expectation of a show resembling Raymond Burr’s series of 40 years ago.  As star Blair Underwood himself attests, they really didn’t keep much outside of the name and the central conceit of a disabled lawman operating his own team.  Oh, and Underwood’s Robert Ironside tipples a bit of bourbon at the end of a long day, an homage to Burr. This “Ironside” is as different from that one as 2013 …

Seeing Life From a Rolling Chair

It’s only been a few weeks since I joined the ranks of 1.6 million Americans who use wheelchairs, and it has already changed me. I feel helpless in some ways and useless in others. I am in a different world, downsized and looking up, dependent upon others to get me where I’m going. There is a terrible loneliness to that. I use the chair only occasionally as the effects of COPD impact my ability to breathe easily, ergo my ability …

Another Senator Heads for the Exit

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who’s been struggling with speech and using a motorized scooter to get around since sustaining a brain hemorrhage in 2006, announced on March 26 that he won’t run for re-election. Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter Johnson is one of a long line of lawmakers who’ve had to work through the problems of age and disability in a job that can be demanding even for younger members, with its long hours, frequent trips back home …

With the Aid of Science! Human on Our Own Terms

Medical science routinely offers solutions to problems that our bodies or environment can not naturally fix. It’s great when these are cool re-imaginings and re-purposing of existing products and procedures. Other times its fine-tuning that leads to good results. This week had a bunch of cool and slightly weird stories about solving some health related issues. Wheelchair Car: There aren’t many options for driving for those in wheelchairs. Existing cars often need remodeling to accommodate the systems that allow those …