Went in today, another blood test after 2 weeks on blood pressure medicine. Didn't see Neurologist, saw Cardiologist, good news blood pressure good. Bad news going to have surgury, at some point to close the hole in my heart, the one I was probably born with. Fortunately sounds like minor operation, going up through an artery and putting an umbrella, she called it, in to close the hole. First before they schedule that I have to see a neuro-surgeon in May. The nurse did say that the CT Angiogram looked normal. So far so good...I guess.
Michael Jastremski , M.D. The first Dr. I saw in the ER.
Emergency Medicine Director
Emergency Services/Medical Affairs
Certified by: American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Emergency, and Subspecialty Certification in Critical Care Medicine
Residency: SUNY Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY
Fellowship: University of Pittsburgh
Med College: SUNY Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY - 1973
College: Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY - 1969
Eufrosina Young, M.D. The second Dr. I saw, a Neurologist
Hamilton Family Health Center of CMH
164 Broad Street, Hamilton
Certified in Clinical Neurophysiology, Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Residency: North Shore University Hospital (of New York University), Manhasset, NY - 2001
Med College: University of the East, Quezon City, Philippines - 1994
College: University of the Philippines - 1990
Carina Alfaro-Franco, M.D. The third Dr. a Cardiologist.
Community Memorial Hospital
164 Broad Street
Hamilton, NY 13346
Board Certified in Cardiovascular Disease. Board Certified in Internal Medicine
Residency: Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX – 1994
Med College: University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas – 1991
College: University of Houston, Houston, TX – 1978
In the last update, I said that the Neurologist told me that they'd ruled out stroke, multiple TIA, brain tumor, MS, etc. and due to the results of the MIA they thought there might be restricted blood flow in the arteries in the back of my head, going to the brain, that was causing the problems. Well I had the CT Angio that they scheduled a week ago last Friday, still haven't heard anything. Except went to MD for first visit last week, speaking to the Nurse Practioner, asked her and they have the preliminary report, she said it says no narrowing or aneurism. So I was feeling pretty good, until I got a letter from a Neurosurgeon in Syracuse telling what to bring to my appointment mid May. That's it for now, I see the Neurologist on Tuesday and intend to ask what's going on.
It would seem to be true. After all they all have a seat, a handlebar, three or four wheels, a motor and transmission and one or two batteries, (usually two). So it would seem to be true, if you don't look too deep. It's just like saying a bicycle is a bicycle, or a car is a car, or a guitar is a guitar, or a girl is a girl, or a friend is a friend, on and on and on. But, unless you're the person that thinks a Timex is no different than a Rolex, (they both keep time, right?), or there's no difference between a Playboy Bunny and the girl you see at the Walmart checkout, (she may be good looking, but...), still it's just not true. There are similarities, and while it would appear that one is pretty much the same as another, if you've ever found one car or bicycle better than another, or you're a guitar player that prefers a Martin over a Taylor, you just know that it's not true. You may prefer a different scooter than I do, or than that person over there does, which in itself pretty much proves that I'm right. If I wasn't, there'd only be one kind. Instead there's dozens. Each brand has it's strong points and weak points. For instance an example of one for me is the actuator, on a Rascal they are finger actuators meaning you pull back with your fingers which is easy, on a Pride they're thumb controlled, meaning you push with your thumbs, which when turning sharply is difficult. Another example is the front basket, on most Rascals it's mounted to the frame and has no effect on steering, on most other scooters it's mounted on the handlbar and can if you put too much in it make the scooter hard or dangerous to steer. So you have to look at the various features and specs to make sure your scooter is right, right for you that is.
Another way to look at it is that any scooter will get you around, and yes, that happens to be true. If you can put up with or ignore the negatives. A 350 lb man can ride a small scooter, even though the weight limit is 250-300 lbs or so, he might get away with that, at least for awhile, but most are 20-21 inches wide with 9" or smaller tires. But, is him being squeezed into a small seat, uncomfortable, the handlebar right in his chest or belly, or that he would constantly be in danger of tipping over a real concern? The other side of the coin is the little 90 lb lady who gets a bariatric scooter with a weight limit of 500-550 lbs. Yes it's unlikely she'll ever wear it out, or stress it too highly, but frankly it's just too much scooter. Too big, too hard to get around in, she'd be more suited to the smaller or ultra-light scooter in the pevious example.
There are many things to consider, among them are: what you want it for, indoors/outdoors/or both, weight capacity, losing weight or gaining weight, scooter length and width, anti-tip wheels, correct seat width/depth, how wide are your doors, turning circle, stability, speed, how tall or short are you, where will you store it, travel distance per charge, battery life, tire size, rural home or in city, tippiness or likliness to tip over, carrying capacity, does the basket interfere with steering, power, ability to go up a hill, acceleration, break down for transport, need a lift for vehicle, need a ramp for your home, and more, any of which can make one machine better than another....for you.
So yes, if you look just at the surface, it can look like a scooter is a scooter. But if you go into it in depth, make your salesman do his job right, and get the one that's right for you, you'll quickly see that it's not true.
This should really have been the first post, before any lifts, but here it is, better late than never. The scooters, and the powerchairs to some degree, are designed to be broken down for transport in a car, truck, or van. I'm only going to talk about cars because the process is the same for trucks, vans and SUV's but they have so much more room it's easier.
As I said in an earlier post, when I first started, I had an 83 Olds 98, and I could fit two full scooters in the trunk, broken down. Big old cars are great, but every year they seem to make the cars, and the trunks, and especially the opening into the trunks, smaller. By now there are fewer cars, that will hold the whole scooter without using the back seat too.
But the other side of the coin is, when I was still selling inhome, probably 1999, (I was doing both inhome and VA then), I had an appointment with a guy in, I think, Rome, NY not Italy, who was in need of a scooter. He bought a 245, which was a heavy duty three wheel about 48 inches long comparable to a current 600F. He had a Ford Festiva, a really really small car. we broke his scooter down to put it in the Festiva's trunk.
Broken down, in the order you take them apart, you have the front basket, the flag, the handlbar, the seat (which can range from std. 18" wide to 24" wide or wider on special order), two batteries, then you stand it on the rear bumper, pull a pin, and the front section pulls away from the rear section, making a total of 8 pieces. As I said I could get two scooters broken down, like this, in my Olds 98, big cars with big trunks and big trunk openings, are fantastic.
But, as I remember, this time, in this tiny car, we got the rear section, the two batteries, the handlebar, front basket, and flag in his trunk, it was a small trunk. The front section and the seat had to go in the back seat of the Festiva. At that point he and his wife had to decide whether to take the Rascal, or their kids. He ended up buying a small trailer to carry his scooter.
The moral being that if you're serious, you can fit your Rascal in virtually any car, from large, a Lincoln Town Car, to probably even as tiny as something like a Prius. You might not fit anything else though, so you'd have to be serious. If your car is tiny, don't take my word, or anybody elses that it'll all fit, break it down, put it in the car, and make sure... BEFORE you buy,
Another aspect is that while the heaviest part, when taken apart as I've described, is about 60-70 pounds, (the rear section), it's more awkward than heavy. But still it's not light, and needs someone in decent shape to put it in and out of a trunk. I've always had the person who wants to transport this way actually break down, load, unload and put the scooter back together, to make sure they can. It's more than some people can, or should, handle. Believe it or not, I've sold scooters where the husband and wife worked together to lift the heavy parts, this works too. Another reason to break it down and try it before you buy.
The fact that not everybody can or should do it, and not everybody has help, is the reason we sell lifts, and the correct lift does make transporting easier, but if necessary you can do it without a lift.
FYI One other thing is that while they're apart you can change fronts, from a four wheel to a three wheel, this is a patented feature only available from Rascal, just thought I'd mention it.
Went this AM for the MRI, they also did an MRA and ANOTHER fasting blood test. The MRI/MRA was facinating. First time I've ever done it. They put you on a table and put headphones over your ears, she asked what music I wanted, I of course said Rockabilly, but the best they had was late 50's early 60's rock and roll, oh well, finally a framework goes over your head and shoulders. Then you're slid you into a chamber, and it starts, They tell you not to move. I remember thinking this is what it's like inside a jackhammer. But, once you're used to it it's kind of peaceful. I was in there about 30 minutes or so, didn't move at least I don't think I did. I meditated on a blue line that ran right in front of me, lengthwise along the top of the tunnel. When it was over went and got blood drawn, fun, fun, fun...
The neurologist Dr Johnson called me at home, so I figure it's possibly bad even though she played it down, otherwise why would she call personally. She said she looked at the MRI, and it wasn't a stroke, that was the good news, so now ear infection, brain tumor, MS, and stroke have all been pretty much eliminated. But the bad news was that while the MRI was ok, the MRA wasn't. Apparently there's an artery or vein that goes to the back of the brain. She said that it didn't appear to be allowing the blood through as it should. So now I have to have what's called a CT Angiogram I think she said. They inject dye into the blood and follow it with a CT. If that's the problem, she said it requires an operation, meaning I guess they open up my head.
So that's where it stands until they scedule the test and I go for another CT. It is interesting, and I said earlier even this is better that it having been MS, even this can be fixed, MS can't. So I figure I'm still ahead....
When I first started selling Rascals in 1998 there were only two lifts available, and the Trunk Lift was one. The other was the Rack & Roll which I'll talk about later. At that time the Outside Trunk Lift was not available yet.
The Outside version came about in the early 2000's and was invented by one of us sales rep's, not by the company. It consists of an L shaped bar. One end, the small L extention that would slide into either a class II or class III hitch, the bar itself is about thirty inches or so, runs parallel to the passenger side of the bumper, and on the end is a socket that the Standard Trunk Lift upright fits into. The bar is what makes a Standard Trunk Lift an Outside Trunk Lift. The Trunk Lift itself consists three parts, an L shaped bracket with a socket for the upright in the middle, it bolts to the floor of the car trunk, van, or pickup bed. The upright is round pipe about 30 inches or so, and the socket of the lift boom slides down onto it at the top. The lift boom is adjustable for length, and the electric motor is attached to it. A strap that has a hook on the end runs from the pully along the boom through a slot down to where it attaches by the hook to either the seatpost of the scooter or powerchair after removing the seat, or the Seat On Lift Bracket, which allows picking up the scooter or powerchair without removing the seat. This lift picks the scooter or powerchair up electrically, but requires the user to push it in and pull it out manually, as well as manuvering the unit in the air to clear anything that may be in the way, or turn it for clearance, so it does require some strength and co-ordination to use it. It requires the most work by the user, but it is also the least expensive, and that's the trade off. It works very well for a person with the required strength and dexterity. There is also a fold-down model, which allows laying the lift down without taking it apart, I try to avoid selling that one because the Standard Trunk Lift comes apart easily and is stronger, and less likely to collapse under load. Our Standard Trunk Lift has a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the Fold Down and Outside Trunk Lifts have a weight capacity of either 200 or 250 pounds, and we also have a Heavy Duty Unit that has a weight capacity of 400 pounds for heavier or barriatric units.
Now the downside, or upside if you have a van or pickup, is what vehicles will they work in. If you have a car, unless it's a large one, ie older Lincoln Town Car, Mercury or Ford with the same body/chassis, or a similar size older Chevy, Olds, Buick, etc. (for instance I had a 1983 Olds 98 that I could literally carry two scooters in the trunk), or a station wagon, forget it, it won't work. The newer cars either have too small a trunk, or too small an opening into the trunk, or both. An exception to this is if you can put a Class II or III hitch on your car, AND the trunk opening is large enough, AND the lift over height is not too high, you can use an Outside Trunk Lift.
If you have a pickup, or van (either mini, or full sized), the Trunk Lift will work fine. SUV's are somewhere in the middle, sometimes it works, sometimes not, again you're better off with an Outside Trunk Lift, but measure first or email me and if you're not too far away I can do it, if you are I can possibly get a local rep to do it for you. As I tell everybody my job is to make your life easier.
In an effort to bring the blog back to Earth, more real, a friend mentioned I was getting too esoteric, I posted about how hard it is to sell Jags, in upstate NY.
Now I'll tell you about the first serious blip in my health, other than broken ankles, since I was a kid. It happened on the afternoon of December 11, 2009, and I don't mind saying...it scared me. It's easy to talk if you've never been ill, and even now I'm not 100% sure, but it was enough to scare me.
I was feeling fine, and was cooking some bacon to make a bacon sandwich. Always been one of my favorites, a pound of bacon, two slices of bread and Frenches Mustard. Anyway, the light was out in the hood over the stove. So while the bacon was cooking, I bent over and looked up under the hood, taking the screws out so I could get to the light bulb. Suddenly I felt dizzy, so I straightened up. The dizziness went away. I got a new bulb, and again bent over and looked up, changing the bulb and replacing the cover and screws. Suddenly I was dizzy again. This time so bad I almost fell, I sat down and it went away after a few minutes, when I stood it came back, so bad if I didn't hang on to something I'd have been on the floor. I finished cooking the bacon, put it on a plate, cleaned the frying pan, then took the bacon and went in my room and laid down, taking a nap. When I woke it had subsided. But now when I stood and walked I veared to the right, and if I turned my head too fast the dizziness returned. I worked the following day, driving was no problem, it only bothered me when I got out of the van and walked or stood. A couple days later I was going to work again, so in a bout of self medication, I took 10 Tylinol, 8 Centrum Vitamin tablets, a couple of allergy pills, and 4 or 5 Echinacea pills. Which I WON'T DO AGAIN. The next day I noticed that the right side of my head, starting at the nape of my neck, passing over down my face through my nose, and stopping at my chin was numb. The right side of my mouth felt like I'd had a Novocain shot. Also I could only swallow food with difficulty, if I took too big a bite, it would block my throat, choking me. Fortunately I was able to cough up the food each time. Over the last couple of weeks this has not gone away, but has susided to a mild numbness, the skin only is numb. I've learned to take small bites and chew. Everything works, there's no droopyness in the eye or mouth just numb skin. I have wondered if this was something else, perhaps a pinched nerve, from sleeping on my side, head, not neck supported. As it stands at this point, I'm fine except for balance issues if I move suddenly, numb facial skin, and overall weakness/lack of stamina. I was convinced I had an inner ear infection (although it showed up suddenly), others have me two thirds convinced it was a tsa or mini-stroke. Also for some time I've had poor circulation in both lower legs, and laying on my back under a car working on it would make me dizzy and nautious, but it went away as soon as I sat up. Everybody thinks I'm an idiot for not going to the hospital, or a Dr. but I'm convinced that they couldn't tell me any more than I already know, take an aspirin daily, and they'd charge thousands of dollars running tests to tell me that. Maybe I am an idiot, I guess we'll see.
To recap briefly, 12/11/09 cooking bacon and changing light bulb under hood on stove. Got dizzy, light headed, nauseous and threw up. A couple days later skin on right side of face went shot of novocain numb, and couldn't swallow except with difficulty choking easily. Since I wrote the original post on 1/16/10 there have been changes, improvements, different diagnosis'...
To start the difficulty swallowing and choking on food finally pretty much went away around the end of January. The numb skin is better, less but still numb. It starts at the nape of my neck, comes over my head down my face through the nose to my chin. My head is split right through the middle, right side numb, the left side normal. I got several opinions from friends that it was a TIA, a stroke, a brain tumor...
I broke down and got medical Insurance, and found it incredibly difficult to find a doctor. I had a list from the insurance company and called them. Nobody was taking new patients. Finally one considered taking me on, so I filled out a bunch of paperwork about two or three weeks ago, and they finally called two days ago with an appointment the end of this month, on the 28th. It's nice to see the medical profession doing so well that they don't need, or want, new customers (patients). Anyway, tired of waiting, I went to the hospital in Hamilton last week. Everyone was very nice, I saw the ER doctor, after talking to me and doing a cat scan and blood tests, he came back and said not to over-react, but they had found several ???? infarctions in the pictures of my brain. That he didn't think it was a stroke or a brain tumor, that based on the infarctions it might be MS. That I should make an appointment with the Neurologist, get a MIR which will give better pictures, and not to worry... Right, don't worry.
So I called, made an appointment, and saw the Neurologist yesterday. After talking to me, doing some simple tests, watching me walk, etc. She told me that in her opinion, it wasn't MS, that I'd had one or more TIA's. She'd looked at the pictures from the CT scan and it was too unclear to say what the problem was for sure.
So I'm now taking more tests, before I left the hospital I had two ultra sounds, one of the arteries in my neck, and one of my heart. The one of my heart showed a possible small hole, I think she said in the atria wall, which if it's there, could possibly have allowed a clot to pass through, maybe causing the ATI, if that's what happened to me. The MIR is being set up, who knows what else. So far they've told me to keep taking the baby aspirin, which I prescribed myself in December when this started.
So now I go back today for more tests, some kind of bubble test ultra sound, and to see a cardiologist. The good news is it's a heart problem. As I said to a friend, a heart problem can be fixed, MS can't, so I'll take a heart problem. So that's where I'm at now
A question that comes up all the time and is easy to answer. Of course it depends on what you drive, whether it's a small car or big one, a van or pickup, maybe even a motorhome or converted bus.
Believe it or not I have worked with the VA to get scooters to Vets who were driving those, two motorhomes, and one bus that the vet had done himself. He said he had about $300k in it, and I'd have to say if not a palace on wheels, it was close. As good or better than that of any rock/country stars or Amway upline no matter how many Diamonds they have...you people in Amway will understand. For those not in Amway, uplines, Direct Distributors and above, put another way the ones making money, love those huge converted buses to travel around in, to conventions and visiting their downlines...just like Country and Rock music stars. Looking at the other side, when still selling in home, I had an appointment with a guy in Rome, I think. He had three young kids, bought a scooter a Rascal 245 three wheeler as I remember. What was his car? A Ford Festiva. It's the smallest car I ever got a scooter in. Is there a smaller car out there, if there is not by much. But I did get it in. The front, and rear sections in the trunk, the seat, batteries, handlebar and front basket in the back seat. He and the wife had to decide if they were taking the scooter or their kids. Too small for a Rack and Roll lift, the trunk already full, so lifts were out of the picture. So, what did he do? He went to Cole Muffler and got a class I hitch installed, then bought a small trailer with a lid, like you'd use with a lawn tractor or snowmobile, and would just drive the scooter in, drop the lid, keeping it clean, and take everybody and the scooter. In addition it worked great if he was staying home because the wife could leave the trailer and there was nothing hanging off the car.
Anyway, lets get to lifts. There are several different types. Inside lifts are the Trunk Lift, the Equalizer 2 & 3, and Tailgater Lifts, and the Tracker Lift. Outside lifts are the Outside Trunk Lift, and the Rack and Roll Lift class II and III. I'm going to do each lift as a post to keep this from going on forever.
As it turned out after I hit the deer back in March that the insurance company totalled the van, because of the high milage v the damage mostly. After thinking it over I took their offer and bought it back, it was cheaper than just taking the money and getting a different one. Mine had new tires, the brakes had just been done, etc. and while I hate it I also know it. Plus pretty much everything I looked at that I could afford was 10 or more years old and not cheap. So now it's in the body shop at McCready's Chevrolet in Sherburne. I was there today and the fender was off along with the grill and lights. All I can say is WOW. You'd never even know it had been hit. The body man is doing beautiful work. It's amazing the damage a deer can do. He showed me a Toyota they have in there that the whole front was smashed, 5-6,000 dollars in damage. Made me feel better. Anyway should have back probably early next week.
Watching TV just saw a commercial for a program about an olympic swimmer, Victor Davis, who "had the hopes of an ENTIRE NATION riding on his shoulders, as stated by a woman in the story." Can you imagine the pressure? You must win at any cost, winners are hero's, and losers are...well losers, and who even remembers them, let alone their names? It started me thinking...
This is a mindset that exists, unfortunately, not just in "sports," but even more so in life. Being in sales, I've seen dozens, hundreds of guys, and gals, that subscribed to the same philosophy, winning at any cost, make the sale any way you have to, lie cheat, anything to make the sale. It's usually not by choice, although I know there are those out there who think this way naturally. That aside it's usually an aquired mindset, endorsed, taught, and pushed by over-aggresive, greedy, (or sometimes afraid for their jobs or don't know any better), sales managers who put dollars into their own pockets, everytime a salesperson makes a sale, however they made it, and learned by basically honest people who believe what they're told, that it's the only way that they can earn a living. After all, buyer's are liars, ask any sales manager. Personally that one never made any sense to me, how can a buyer be a liar? Looky loo's are liars, that I get.
When I was selling solar water heating in the mid 80's I worked with a guy named Jeff, or it may have been Geoff, who was literally the top salesman in the office, and also VP of sales. He looked like Michael Douglas from some angles and George Hamilton from others with a great tan. He had a condo in I think Balboa, and a house in Newport Beach for his ex. She also had the Rolls and Jag. Poor guy, he was stuck with the Porsche Turbo. From what he said about half his income went up his nose, and still he lived like a king, making half to three quaters of a million per year. How, you ask? I know I did. I saw literally the best salesman I've ever met, but he didn't believe it. I saw him work, as I said, and with all his skill and talent, if it took telling the prospect that the sky was purple, or that they'd recoup their investment in six months or kicking back x dollars, he'd do it to make the sale. He had entire housing developments where if a house was sold, someone would visit the new owner and suggest that they talk to Jeff, I was a ridealong on a couple of these, they were true laydowns. He told me that he kicked back $4-500. per referral. He was convinced that winning however he did it was key to survival, he didn't care what he had to do, he would win, and the prospects would lose. Losing, not making the sale, to him was completely unacceptable. There were about 15 of us in that office, and most of us would bring in 12-13 sales a month, Jeff normally brought in 40 to 50 every month. He had a 50% fallout ratio and still outsold everybody else. The reason was that while yes he was probably technically no better than the best of us, getting the sale, bringing home the gold, winning, was vital, more important, to him than to us.
The sales manager that demands honesty is rare indeed, they are out there, but few and far between. The same thing applies to salespeople, those with honesty and integrity are there, and are more common that most customers would ever believe. I am one of those and so are most if not all of the salespeople I work with at Rascal. Yes, there have been those that I describe above, but for some reason they don't last in the VA div., perhaps it's selling to the VA that's the reason.
Born about 15 miles from where I was living when I started blogging, at the Norwich NY Hospital. Grew up in Oxford and Tyner NY, we moved to South New Berlin. We had lived in town in Oxford until my father decided he wanted to be a farmer. So we moved to a farm in Tyner. The house burned which is when we moved to South New Berlin onto another farm. Then to Southern Calif. in Fullerton, went to Buena Park High School. My Aunt lived out there in Anaheim, had from her time in the service (WWII). My interest in the occult (it means unknown) stemmed from hearing her talk about Edgar Cayce.
Lived there for next 30 years or so. Got into sales f/t.
Moved to NY in 12/91 figuring to stay awhile and go back to Calif. Still here 18 years later, selling Rascal scooters in home in 98, then the new VA div selling to VA hospitals in 99. Still there covering 98% of upstate NY. Working on raising the money to get back to Calif. 2011, finally back to Calif couldn't take another NY winter. Living in Fullerton again, still in sales, a great job in Orange.