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My Parkinson's Journey

In which Terri shares a humorous look at her journey with Parkinson's disease and Dystonia:

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

Filtering by Tag: mobility

TravelScooting: the first adventure

Terri Reinhart

July 18, 2013

It was the day.  After some busy weeks, I took a personal/mental health day and rode my new TravelScoot to the bus stop and took the bus downtown.  I planned on spending the entire day shopping, exploring, and generally having fun riding my new scooter.

A few weeks before, I had taken our daughter to a large shopping mall to look for a dress.  As this was in my pre-TravelScoot days, I was walking.  I'm afraid I didn't last long before informing our daughter of her choices:  either we go home or she had to give me a piggy back ride.  We went home.

This trip would be different.  I had a TravelScoot.  I had dreamed of owning one of these incredible machines.  It's like a sports car. Invented in Germany, it's the Porsche of mobility scooters.  It's built for durability, ease of use, and speed.  Okay, I added the last one.  I'm not sure speed was one of the goals; I just happen to enjoy it. 

There are a few things one must know about these scooters.  They're not for everyone.  You have to be able to walk somewhat and balance.  The simplicity of this machine appealed to me.   To go backwards, you have to push with your feet.  It has hand brakes.  If you don't remember to apply the brakes, you will coast.  To me, this means fewer things to go wrong.  This is one scooter where reading the instructions completely and following them religiously is essential. It's not difficult, but important.  Thank you to Tony at TravelScoot USA for all your help!

The first test was riding the bus.  With most scooters, trying to park in the space allowed is a little like trying to parallel park an SUV on a street crowded with other vehicles and pedestrians.  Everyone is waiting for you and watching you as you inch forward and get stuck in your attempt to hurry.  In comparison, the TravelScoot was like parking a child's tricycle in a large space.  I was able to put the bus seat up by myself, maneuver into position using my feet to help, and was ready before the driver had the lift back in place and the door closed.

Getting out at the 16th Street Mall, I had a wonderful sense of freedom!  I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted to do!  I zipped up and down the sidewalks.  Getting there early enough, there weren't many people about the mall, so I sailed around town.  I had tea, got a haircut, and went to a few stores.  The TravelScoot was able to maneuver through large stores as well as tiny gift shops.  Some of the older shops have a step at the front door. No problem!  It was easy to put my feet down and lift the front wheel up the step, push a little forward, and repeat for the back wheels. No way could I have done it with a heavier scooter.

After zipping around town, I went back to the bus stop to wait for the bus. It was getting very hot by that time and sitting in one place was not pleasant.  It took seconds for me to decide to try taking the TravelScoot home without the bus!  Turning aside, I found the pedestrian bridge over the highway.  Halfway over the bridge, I had the incredible urge to take off my hat, swing it around, and give a loud WHOOP for joy!  I was seeing all sorts of new places in town and having a wonderful time!

The entire journey, from downtown to our house in Wheat Ridge, would have been about 4 1/2 miles.  I went almost 3 miles of this on the TravelScoot, going through the shopping discricts of LoDo (lower downtown), LoHi (Lower Highlands), and Highlands before getting back on the bus for the last leg of my journey.  Tired, but happy, I came back home and rested for awhile.  I don't think I stopped smiling for hours.

Owning a TravelScoot would have remained a dream, but for the kindness and generosity of a dear cousin from Europe.  He decided it would be a good way for me to be more independent.  How does one repay a gift like this?  It's not possible.  I can only be grateful and try to show kindness and generosity to others whenever and however I am able. 

And have many more adventures!


Ikea Overload

Terri Reinhart

We needed a new light fixture for our kitchen and had tried most of the stores in our area without finding what we wanted or could afford. Then we looked at the Ikea store website. Good selection, affordable, this looked like our best bet. We had heard a lot about this store and there was certainly a lot of excitement when it opened in Centennial, south of Denver.

I suggested we pack a lunch, some blankets, a flashlight, and a tent. I told the kids they would most likely be on their own for dinner. We also brought my mobility scooter, which was good. Walking continues to be my most challenging activity. For those of you who shop at Ikea often, you know how much walking is required. It was our first time. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Chris drove. I told him where to go.

Twenty-two miles down the highway and around numerous twisting roads, we finally pulled into the huge parking garage belonging to Ikea.

Twenty feet inside the door, my remaining dopamine producing cells (DPC's) went on strike. They do this sometimes, usually when I need them the most. This time I was ready. I took some Sinemet. Though this medication usually slips in unnoticed and gets the work done, today it was no go. The DPC's were patrolling and the Sinemet was caught picking the lock. Today the DPC's were in no mood to allow a SCAB across the picket lines. 

Unfortunately, as most of us with Parkinson's know, there are times when the meds don't work. It's anyone's guess why this happens. Stress? Fatigue? Stores the size of small towns? DPC's are fickle, especially when there aren't enough of them. They decide when to work and when to tell me to take a hike – or not.

I was in trouble. I knew if I stayed on course, I was on my own. The tightness in my chest was not going to go away, my eyes would steadfastly refuse to blink, and I was at risk for falling asleep in the middle of the store. However, I did not come 22 miles to be thwarted by my own substantia nigra. After all, I had my husband AND my scooter with me.

All things considered, we did well. Having come for just one item, we made it out with less than ten. We found a nice light fixture for our kitchen, another light for over the sink, toilet brushes, a ceramic pot for Chris' Norfolk pine tree, and at least one more thing I can't remember. It took about three days to get from one end of the store to the other. Had I not brought the scooter, we'd still be there.

I think I need to go back. We forgot the light bulbs... and there was this cute little kitchen greenhouse, and candles, vases, pictures...

Better pack a lunch.

The Sports Car of My Dreams

Terri Reinhart

When I was in elementary school, I loved to look through the Sears Catalogue and plan my dream house.  After days of looking, I would carefully fill out the order forms with all the furniture, appliances, and home decor for my future abode.  By the time I was in high school, I traded in the Sears catalogue for the Auto Trader magazine.  This was even more exciting than furniture.

Having a car meant freedom.  Having freedom meant getting away whenever I wanted, going wherever I wanted to go, and staying away as long as I wanted.  At least, that's what I thought when I was in high school.  We were always a one car family and getting a chance to drive the car was a rare treat.  My dad was very strict about our driving, too.  We were not to drive on the highway or go to certain neighborhoods after dark. This meant I drove on the highway and, well, I just didn't tell him where I was going.  I knew I would soon have my own car and then I wouldn't have to answer to anyone.

Paging through the Auto Trader, I would find my dream car - a 1965 Austin Healey. I would find every Austin Healey for sale in our area and mark the pages.  Then, I would carefully calculate the time I would need to raise the cash from my 75 cent/hour babysitting money.  I concluded I would need to babysit for approximately 8000 hours.

I eventually gave up on the Austin Healey and set my sights on a Triumph.  Though my financial situation hadn't changed much, I had added a family to my babysitting roster who gave tips.  On a good night, I might make $5 or $6.  If I kept up my work, I might just be able to afford the car by the time I was .... 65.

I ended up with an orange 1974 Pinto with an 8 track tape player.  Not that I minded too much. At least I had a car.

Now for my confession.  I've been looking at sporty vehicles again and I have my eye on one.  It's sleek and beautiful.  It handles well and can turn on a dime.  It can hold up to 320 lbs and go as fast as 6 mph!  It's also green.  An electric vehicle, it can go about 10 miles to the charge with a lithium battery.  What is most exciting, it only weighs 36 lbs, including the battery!  It folds up and can be put in a bag and stored in the overhead compartment on an airplane.  

It's a Travel Scoot, invented by Howard Huber, an engineer and amateur airplane builder who had injured his legs in a hang gliding accident years ago.  He wanted a vehicle that was light enough to take on a small airplane. It didn't exist at the time, so he invented one.  It's the Austin Healey of the mobility scooters, a Triumph in engineering!

I'm only feeling moderatly guilty for betraying my Pride Revo. Todd, the Pride mechanic, came by yesterday to look over the Revo.  He was impressed.  I've had it for 3 years and haven't replaced the batteries... yet.  It seems the batteries may have a month or so of life left in them.  Worse than that, the drive train and motor needs to be replaced. We were lucky.  Though the warranty expired a month ago, Pride offered to give us the parts at half price.  

I've come up in the world now and I'm not dependent on my 75 cent/hr babysitting jobs. I make gnomes instead.  I have my calculations.  For 60 gnomes, I can get the Revo fixed and the batteries replaced.  For 220 gnomes, I could get the Austin.. I mean the Travel Scoot.  

For now, I'm getting the Revo fixed.  I'll need it next month when I start school.  Oh yeah, I'm starting school in the fall and this time, I won't be teaching.  I'll be taking two classes: Spanish and Introduction to Political Science.  As it's an election year, I'm sure the Political Science class will be very interesting.  

I'll take the bus to school and use the Revo to get around campus. I did a dry run yesterday and it was great, only my battery started to wimp out on the hill coming home from the bus.  That's when I pulled out the scooter catalogue.  Time to dream again!