Wyoming Wheelchair Accessible (is sometimes not so much)

It’s funny how different people perceive “wheelchair accessible”.  In California, people are quick to not label things in that manner because they don’t want to be sued.  (Ok, I don’t know if that’s entirely true.  What I do know is that California is too litigious and people want easy dollars.)  In Wyoming, it’s the opposite.  Blue curbs have no ramps adjoining them.  It’s like “Hey, we gave you the space designated.  Figure out the rest on your own.”  It’s just a different mindset up here.  People are tough.  They’re resilient.  Where I live in California, you have to fight for a handicapped parking space because every person over 72 has a placard and thinks that old = handicapped.  In Wyoming, cowboys are farming into their 90’s.  “I don’t need no stinking handicapped spot!” is the mentality of every weathered cowboy and nimble old biddy.  They’re tough.  They’re good people.

While I do love that mentality (because I like to think that I am a pretty tough chick) it does sometimes give me some concern.  For example, we rented a cabin for our stay.  We like to have a home base, a place where our dogs feel at home.  They’re not really hotel dogs because they like to bark at noises.  So cabins are good for us.  The cabin we rented didn’t have a picture of the front entry way, but the owner assured me that there was only a little lip that I could easily jump.  The rest of the house was easy access.  We were still going to bring my ramps, just in case.  Unless I can see that there are no steps, I get uneasy.  The owner told the hubs that they built a ramp for me to the front door.  (In addition to being tough, the people in Wyoming are so super nice!) The owners of the cabin we rented last year also built me a ramp.  (The people in Wyoming are also super handy.)

Cabin

When we got to the cabin, we saw the ramp.  It was really nice and sturdy.  I’m also glad they built it, because it was more than just a lip that I could jump.  It was a full on step that would have been pretty difficult.  The cabin was really nice.  The living room, dining room and kitchen were all very open and easy for me to get around with.  If the cabin had been only those rooms, then yes, I would agree that it was wheelchair accessible.

However, cabins are more than just the common area.  They’re also comprised of bedrooms and bathrooms.  [Do you see where I am going with this?]  I tried to get into the master bedroom.  I didn’t fit through the sliding glass doors leading to it.  Ruh-roh.  That’s OK!  There are 2 other bedrooms! I thought to myself.  Or, possibly said it outloud to the hubs, trying to reassure him.  I tried one of the other bedroom doors and it was easy to get through.  Problem solved!

Or, was it?  Let’s check out the 2nd bathroom, where the shower is.  Awesome…the door is about 2 inches too small for my wheelchair to get through.  So, if this bathroom is too small and I can’t get into the master, how the heck am I going to go to the bathroom?!  The hubs and one of our friends who had come up with us decided to try taking the sliding door into the master off of the track.  With the door gone, I was now able to get into the master bedroom.  (We just had to hope that the hubs could get it back on by himself cause our friends were only here for 1 week.)  Next came the master bathroom door test.  Score!  I can fit into that bathroom!  Everything worked out!

Or had it?  The master bathroom didn’t have a shower.  Only a tub.  A big, deep, jetted tub.  How the heck am I supposed to use that?!  I can’t fit into the other bathroom with the shower.  And this bathroom only has a tub.  So…my options were to either not shower for a month or channel my inner Wyoming resilience and figure it out.  Getting into the tub wasn’t an issue.  I’m able to transfer to the ledge, put my legs over and lower myself in.  (Luckily I have great upper body strength.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t have worked.)  Getting out is where the issue lies.  I had to prop up on my knees, hoist myself over the ledge (where I felt like I was going to fall head first into the toilet), then twist around to my back and sit up.  It’s so awkward and so hard.  But, I was able to do it.  (Again, so glad that I have upper body strength!)  (Oh, while taking a bath is nice, the tub is so big that you can’t even fill it halfway because the hot water runs out.  And to wash my hair, I feel like an original homesteader who has to use a bucket to pour water over their head.  When I get home, I’m taking an hour long shower just to enjoy the ease of it all.  Sorry California drought.)

While I’m able to figure it all out with minimal some complaining, the point is that I did figure it out.  I usually don’t mind when things are an inconvenience for me, because I figure such is life.  I hate being an inconvenience on other people though.  Case in point: we are actually sleeping in one of the spare rooms because the bed in the master is also too high for me to get into alone and the hubs had to hoist me up into it.  Not bad when we go to bed.  But, when I have to go to the restroom at 1am and then wake him up to get back into bed?  That’s an inconvenience.  Mind you, he doesn’t complain.  He helps me with everything very willingly.  But, I still feel bad.  (Last year’s cabin was the same, so I always ended up sleeping on the couch after my early morning bathroom break.  I suppose I could have done that this year too, but it was just easier to switch rooms.)

The other point is that just because someone says a place is wheelchair accessible doesn’t mean it is, because until you’re actually having to navigate in a chair, you really don’t know if things are all that accessible.  Until I was in the chair, I wouldn’t have thought of some of these problems.  Now they’re obstacles that I can’t avoid and am forced to tackle.  At least I try to do it with humor, because what other option do I have?

Wheelchair Accessible Doorway- Swing Clear Hinges

Yesterday morning, as the hubs and I lazed around the house watching the Sunday morning news before church, I was playing around on Pinterest.  (Well, it started on Facebook where I found a picture of a really cool wheelchair accessible pool and ended up on Pinterest, which covered just about all of my social media outlets for the morning.)  While playing around on Pinterest, I found these really cool hinges which allow for a door to open completely out of the way so a wheelchair can get through.

When I first got home from the hospital, my wheelchair wouldn’t fit though many of the doorways in the house.  So, for the bathroom and closet in the master bedroom and the bathroom in the hallway, we had to take the doors off.  (I say we, but I actually mean my dad and brother who did it for me.  I wasn’t one for manual labor in those days.) So, imagine my surprise when I saw these hinges online!  After Mass got out, the hubs and I went over to Lowe’s and he found them in the hinge aisle.  We bought 4 as I was convinced that we would be able to figure it out and be able to the two doors which still remained down.  (I say we, but I actually mean him.  I’m still not doing much manual labor these days.)

We got home and realized that they didn’t come with instructions and they were a bit confusing.  I turned my attention back to the trusty internet, but there weren’t many tutorials on how to attach the swing Clear Full Mortise Hinges.  I found one YouTube video but it was not all that helpful.  We decided to just try to figure it out on our own.  And I took photos of the steps so I could hopefully pass along the “how to” on these amazing hinges to anyone else who may try to undertake this task.  (Spoiler alert: once we figured it out, it wasn’t that hard at all!  Ok, it wasn’t hard at all for me cause I sat there and watched, inserting my wisdom every now and then in the form of tips and ideas.  But, even the hubs said it wasn’t that hard at all.  I did reward him by not complaining about the amount of sports and news on the TV for the rest of the day.)

hinges 1

Stanley Swing Clear Full Mortise Hinges for Wheelchair Accessible doorways

hinges 2

Swing Clear Hinges for Wheelchair Accessible doorways out of the package

The closet doorway sans door

The closet doorway sans door

Now that we’ve set the scene for the installation, let’s get to the fun part:

Step 1:

Chisel out the space so the hinges will fit snuggly

Chisel out the space so the hinges will fit snuggly

Our previous hinges had been rounded in the corners.  The new hinges are squared off, which meant the hubs had to pull out his trusty hammer and chisel to make the corners square.  I think his next project should be in marble or ice sculpting.  We live in the desert, so maybe not ice.

Step 2:

Chisel the rounded corners of the door

Chisel the rounded corners of the door

 

Make the rounded edges square so they match the door frame

Make the rounded edges square so they match the door frame

 

Step 3:

Attach the hinges to the wall

Attach the hinges to the wall

This is how the hinge should look without the door on it.  The hinges we used were Stanley brand.  A good way to figure out the direction is the part with the word “Stanley” is on the wall with the name facing out.

 

Step 4:

Attach the door to the hinge

Attach the door to the hinge

It’s easier to attach the door to the hinge than vice versa.  Trust me.  We tried.

hinges 8

Please ignore all the scraped paint on the doorway.  Or, if you’re in a wheelchair, I’m sure your walls and doorways look the same way.  Don’t worry: that’s why the good Lord invented touch-up paint!

 

Drum roll please….

….The finished product!

Fully hung door with Stanley Swing Clear Full Mortise Hinges (AKA a doorway with a door that I can now get through in my wheelchair!)

Fully hung door with Stanley Swing Clear Full Mortise Hinges (AKA a doorway with a door that I can now get through in my wheelchair!)

 

Here’s where things get even weirder: I promise you that I just stumbled across these hinges in the morning.  In the evening, when I was doing my nightly Facebooking (No, that’s not the weird part… I’m really on it all the time.  Yes, I’m an addict.) my “memories” thing came up, showing me the hauntings of years past.  Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of the day I went home from the hospital and the 2 year anniversary of the day the doors came down!!  That’s so weird!!  I definitely believe in a higher power and that things happened for a reason.  I truly believe that something drew my attention to those hinges on that day so we could close the door (ha. ha. pun intended!) on that whole chapter of my life.  It’s all about moving on, figuring life out and adapting!  Not that having a closet door is the end all be all.  But, it’s cool that something we had to take down because of the disability we were able to put back on as a figurative semblance of normalcy!