Rose F. Neuben
I figured out in the last few weeks that I need to replace my car because my current car sits too low to the ground. The height causes back strain when I get in and out of it. Because of problems with my back, I have only been using my current car once or twice a week. I have been doing most of my errands and appointments in Arlene’s (my health tech’s) minivan because the seats are higher which seems to eliminate the back strain I get from using my car.
I finally figured out I need to replace my car when one of my sisters was visiting me. During her visit, I used my car 3 days in a row. On the third day, I had extremely bad back pain. That lasted for a few days, and severely restricted what I could do because it was easily aggravated.
I have been looking at and researching SUVs because they have higher seats, and some have cargo space I can use for a scooter. (I want a scooter because things that require a lot of walking are too exhausting for me [an example is a shopping mall], and a scooter would make that easier.)
Arlene suggested I finance the SUV with a credit union. My research on credit unions shows that most of them require employment, and I have not been employed since my brain injury. Arlene recommended SECU, a state credit union; she thinks anyone can join it. I’ll have to see if they will accept me as a member without employment, but I think they will. I was able to refinance my condo, so I will hopefully be able to finance an SUV with a credit union, as well.
In addition to my research, Arlene and I are looking at lots of SUVs while we are out. One that was at the top of my list was a Scion because they have modified models that would be ideal for a scooter. You don’t see many of them on the road, but I did see one in a parking lot last week. Arlene managed to get her minivan right next to it so I could get out and look at it without having to use my walker. I could see the seats are too low, so that rules out Scion. I also ruled out the Kia Soul because the seats are too low.
The seats can also be too high. For Arlene’s minivan and some SUVs I have been in, I have to pull myself up into the seat. I thought it might be hard to find a model with seats that aren’t too high, but found out from my dental hygienist last week that there are three models she knows of that have seats that are a little lower than most SUVs, but higher than they are in a sedan. The next step in my research for SUVs is to look at those models.
Dealing with back issues is part of my new normal, and that is making me replace my car.
Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas on what SUV's I should be investigating?
Rose F. Neuben
Because of my TBI, I have ataxia (for people not familiar with that, it is an inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements that is symptomatic of some central nervous system disorders and injuries). The ataxia makes it much easier for me to lose my balance, and that puts me at risk for falls. I also deal with fatigue issues, so I use a rollator walker. It is easier to get up from a fall with the walker, and I can sit on the seat to rest when experiencing fatigue.
I can’t carry an umbrella when it rains; I need both hands to drive the walker because of my balance issues. That means the walker, everything on it (I usually have my bag on it, and any packages I need to take to the car or bring back to the condo), and I are all going to get wet. I avoid going out in rain because of that, and plan my activities around it if I can. Sometimes I have to change plans because of the forecast, and have had to reschedule appointments or miss a day of volunteering at BIAM because of rain.
Snow and ice are also an issue for me, so I do not go out if there is any snow or ice on the sidewalk or parking lot. Walking on snow or ice is practically an invitation to fall for me, so I don’t do it. Being stuck in the house is not usually a problem that causes cabin fever, but it was in 2010 when we had three blizzards in a row (Snowmageddon!). I was stuck in the house for 11 days, and got a serious case of cabin fever!
I always watch the news during the week so I can see what the forecast for the next day is, and monitor it closely on weekends. I watch a DC station (Channel 7), and sometimes they guess and get it wrong. Other times they get it exactly right, but big storms or weather events usually cause me to also check other stations to monitor updates—Channels 9, 11, 13, and the Weather Channel.
In the last year, we have had some unusual weather events, and a couple of them became a big deal for everyone: the earthquake and the hurricane. The earthquake caused a lot of my neighbors to come out so we could talk about it since none of us had ever experienced anything like that, and the hurricane made my building lose power for a week. I was the only person who did not lose any power. Some of my neighbors lost some power, but had it in some places, and others lost it completely. The biggest issue for me that week was getting in and out of the building, so my health tech or a neighbor had to help me. I live on the second floor; I can get up and down the stairs, but I need help getting my walker downstairs to go out, and back upstairs after I return.
Dealing with weather has become a routine part of my new normal.