Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page includes notes about wheelchairs.

DON'T LET A WHEELCHAIR SLOW YOU DOWN

I must admit to some degree of depression when I was initially injured. I had been accustomed to constant activity. Now I was immobile, ignoble, and plain grumpy. I had my wife trying to work and play nursemaid while I stared at the ceiling, hoping my injury was merely a nightmare.

My wife could only tolerate so much self-pity. She turned me over so I could no longer stare at the ceiling. She gave me a good paddling to boot. I was climbing into my wheelchair in no time, looking for ways to continue work on the project.

There are some things that cannot be reached from a sitting position. No framing, insulating or shingling are allowed. There are, however, many things that you can do. You can paint the new siding outside. Even from the chair, my reach extended to about the six foot level. The house looked like it was wearing a skirt until my wife had time to paint the upper half; at least I was doing something.

With broken heels, crawling is no problem. I soon found myself developing calluses on my knees. There is a lot that you can reach from the floor. This is a perfect time to put the floor over the sub-floor. It is messy work, but it has a compensating factor if you can talk your wife into giving you a sponge bath when the work is done.

In the end, I found that being wheelchair bound was only as restrictive as I allowed it to be. I could reach anything in the kitchen by spinning in the chair and getting on my knees. I could go as far as my arms would push me, the hardware store included. I even found it easier to deal with babies: I could relate to them on their level. My wife particularly liked the temporary handicapped sticker, which got us the best parking spot on the lot wherever we went.

For once, I found that shopping at the mall could be fun. There is a nearly infinite expanse of flat surface on which to drive, and it is laid out like a race track, with an obstacle course here and there. I frequently spun around the mall at high speeds. Since my disability was temporary, I rented a rather dilapidated wheelchair. Its right front wheel tended to shimmy at speeds over eight miles per hour. It made turning difficult when heading down the gentle slope that ends in the JC Penney women's apparel section. I had more than one collision with a rack of ladies' dresses. The store clerks are always understanding...the first time. For the second attack, it is best to wait for a change of shifts. The other good thing about shopping: there is a ready-made seat already under the rear when your wife decides to start trying on clothes. You can bring along a book or even a portable TV with a VCR. This might be the perfect time to watch Arnold Swartzenager's latest video.

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Insurance:
Evaluating Plan
Coverage
Wheelchairs
Disability
Lawsuits

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Introduction | Decision Making | Design | Permits | Buying Materials | Demolition | Digging | Masonry | Framing | Electricity | Plumbing | Inspections | Roofing | Sheathing / Siding | Soffits | Insurance | Insulation | Fat Fireman Rule | Drywall | Finish Carpentry | Tile | Painting | Carpet | Done

About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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