Jan Contemplates Becoming a Hermit

Ever had one of “those” weeks? Sheesh! Both my Type 2 diabetes and my disability (one leg doesn’t go all the way to the ground) were out to get me.


The diabetes one was kind of stupid of me. All I was doing was trying to help a friend. She’s blind and is looking around for a new insulin pump. She loves the one she has, but that one isn’t made any more. It isn’t easy for her, since she needs a pump with audible boluses and pump companies seem to be making beepless pumps these days. Who knew? I don’t need audible boluses.

One pump that has an audible bolus — which is also the one I have — is Tandem Diabetes Care’s t:slim. It also has a touch screen, which is not good if you can’t see. In other words, no buttons to feel.

So we’re talking and she mentions the possibility of using a template to change the insulin cartridge, and I start going through the steps on my pump to see if a template would be possible. Since I had just filled up my pump before talking to her, I was just going through the screens to see how many different places she’d have to touch the screen while doing a change-out. (Three, if you’re interested.)

All was going along just hunky-dory, until…I got to the screen where you fill the tubing with insulin. So I stopped, assuming it would reset itself as though I hadn’t gone to that screen. If I recall correctly, pumps will kind of shrug and give up if you don’t finish whatever you’re doing.

Not the t:slim. That I know of. There may be a way, but I dunno what it is. It was insisting that I fill the tubing that didn’t need to be filled. I don’t recall that there was a “back” touch place. And, no, I’m not going to go there to find out.

The t:slim also requires that you give it at least 10 units of insulin before you tell it to stop filling the tubing.

“Well,” I told my friend, “I’m going to have to go eat something after this.”

“Can’t you just detach?” she asked.

“And waste 10 units of insulin?” I asked, horrified.

And I need to point out that I was operating against advice: I shouldn’t have been playing with my pump without detaching it.

So, where I usually cover my food with insulin, this time I covered my insulin with food. Since my insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio is 1:5, it didn’t take much food: I ate a sandwich.

Speaking of eating, I had another run-in with an inaccessible “accessible” place. Actually, two of ’em in one evening.

My Sweet Baboo and I went to Indianapolis for a reception/book-signing/talk by an author I knew but had never met. To explain: computers, phones, and relatives here I know.

Anyway, we drive over, putting up with road construction on the way that adds 45 minutes to the trip. So much for stopping by a gardening center on the way.

There’s a quaint little area of Indianapolis called Broad Ripple. It’s filled with restaurants and little independent shops, a hiking-biking trail runs through it, and the bookstore is just across the street from that trail, next to a microbrewery where we planned to eat.

If we could park the van. There was handicapped parking in the microbrewery’s lot right next to the building (apparently a former Victorian house) the bookstore was in, but the bicyclists had taken over. “Handicapped people? There are no handicapped people here.”

As my husband was maneuvering the van away from some nasty-looking, killer branches while trying to avoid running over bicycles or people in an effort to get me out of the van, somebody came out of the restaurant and moved some bikes so we could park in handicapped parking. Whew!

So we went to the bookstore…to find out that the activities were upstairs. And there was no elevator. And since I have a below-the-knee amputation due to a bone infection, and since I don’t wear a prosthesis because I get an itchy rash, I don’t do steps.

The author did come down to meet me and sign my book. But I sure wish I could have attended her talk. Maybe another time.

Off to dinner we went. Into a building where the tables were so close together, it was difficult to maneuver my scooter around them, but I managed. It took me two times to get up the nerve to try and wind my way around the tables to get to the bathroom. But, honestly, we’d left the house around 3 PM and it was now about five hours later.

Success! I got into the ladies room! Only to back right back out. Some people apparently believe if you put a grab bar in a regular stall, it makes the bathroom accessible. Those people would be wrong.

Wanna know why you don’t see a lot of disabled people around? We can’t find a truly accessible bathroom.

Surely “they” don’t do that on purpose so we won’t clutter up the world out there. Do they?

I’d say in both cases — the blind person who needs an insulin pump and the person with a mobility problem — could use a little thoughtfulness from others when it comes to designing things and spaces. Maybe pump companies could invite a blind person or two to add their thoughts on what needs to be included. Maybe space designers could think about “how would a person who cannot walk use this facility?” Or invite a couple of us to put in our two cents.

Nah. That’d be too easy.

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  • vie

    I hear you sister. I am not nearly as handicapped as you but still have mobility issues.
    I have places I want to go but could not “step up” the stairs to get into the store. Or park.
    I go home and gt on the phone to the highest ranking person in the company. Then the city councils. Most cities have HC plans.
    Good luck,

  • 3dhoney

    For any biz or public place –
    There should be no stairs that are more than 4″ high each. There should be no stairs (even one or 2) without a railing. There should be no public facility without some means to get to the upper levels with a staircase lift chair (even if an elevator is not possible).

    If a place does not have handicapped restrooms or access – if should be posted in at least 6 in high letters in a very easily seen location by the enterance (and on their website). This at least would give fast knowledge of issues.

    I can still do a few stairs most days, if low and with railings before my knees die. High curbs w/o at least a cane have become killers.

    Our society needs to think more about these things and put fixes in place wherever possible. War and aging are getting to us everywhere.

  • jim snell

    Practical testing by disabled folks to qualify things done to help the disabled is clearly needed.

    Its not the thinking thats the issue and more need of the same!

    Reminds me of the software verification my company used to do on large complex code packages.
    If you put the engineers/thinking folks verifying code, results poor and major stupidities missed. Instead we had folks who new nothing about the design but were great at screwing things up and flushing out boneheaded design choices were set loose checking out a new design.