06 August 2010

Gotta Want It

There have been times in my life when I knew that pursuing a particular course of action would invite ridicule, and test my capacity to endure public humiliation. Sometimes I did it anyway. If I wanted it bad enough.

An example that comes painfully to mind was competing in obedience trials with a Gordon setter. Although Gordons are lovely dogs, people looking for an obedience prospect don't typically choose one, for good reason. It's not that they're stupid. They've just been bred to have, how shall we say?, an independent turn of mind. In consequence, commands are likely to be perceived as suggestions. Instant and unquestioning obedience will never be at the top of their list of priorities. That's just the way they are. I knew that.

On top of this, the individual at the center of this story was a born clown. She was never happier than when she was the center of attention. She loved to make people laugh. You can imagine where this is going, and that's pretty much the way it went. Her interpretation of commands issued when she had the show ring all to herself were amazingly creative and, I admit, pretty darned funny, although it took me a while to appreciate the humor. She collected a devoted gallery of spectators who could be counted on to show up at ringside to see what she would come up with this time. She eventually earned an obedience title, even ranking among the top 10 Gordons in obedience in the nation that year, although it might only have been the top seven or eight, since I'm not sure there were 10 Gordons competing in obedience that year because most people know better than to try this. In the pursuit of this goal, I learned that my capacity for public humiliation is greater than I ever imagined. Gotta want it.

I don't remember when I last could pick up a cup and drink out of it like a normal person. It was that long ago. I'm almost getting used to drinking everything with a straw. Coffee, hot as well as iced. Wine. Beer. Scotch. But a straw only solves part of the problem. A drink with a straw is still no use to me unless it's sitting on a table where I can reach it by bending over (a maneuver of which I suspect Emily Post would never approve), or there's somebody to hold it for me. What I wanted was a way to drink wherever I happened to be, without having to pester anybody for help. Preferably without creating a spectacle, although I can do spectacle, if need be.

I didn't expect it to be that hard. I am not, after all, the first quadriplegic on the planet. I wasn't surprised that the bountiful array of cupholders available for walkers or wheelchairs generally assume the user can extract the cup from the holder and convey it to the user's mouth. Most people can, but that's not what I need. We could rig something with a mic stand and boom, but I was hoping to find something a little more portable. I eventually located only two commercially-available devices that would attach to my chair or a table and hold a drink where I could get to it. Only one looked like it might work for me.

This particular example of assistive technology was intended to clamp onto a stroller or crib and hold a baby bottle, hence the Fisher-Price color scheme. So much for being inconspicuous. There was no choice of color. The plastic clamp is about as sturdy as it appears in the picture, which is to say, not very. It can support maybe 12 ounces of liquid in a lightweight cup. My 16-oz double-wall stainless steel insulated coffee cup with a full load of coffee is definitely not happenin'. It's huge and bright yellow and looks like, well, like a baby bottle holder. But it works. Scarecrow can load it up and go about his business, and I can drink whenever I want. I had forgotten how cool that was. If it makes my ginormous black Robo-monster power chair look even more ridiculous than it did before, Ch. MacTyke's Heartbreaker CD showed me I can deal with worse than that. Way worse than that.

In Patrick's immortal words, "Freedom is always fashionable." You've just gotta want it.


  1. I gotta say I'm surprised there's no other product out there that is designed specifically for quads. Blind spot, I'd say, in the perspectives of designers. After all, they must think, quads are bed-bound so no such drink holder is needed.

  2. Yeah Cranky, a blind spot. But didn't watching Christopher Reeve teach them anything?

    On the other hand - if the "designers" make it, you can pay for it with your last dollar. Literally. It will be that expensive.

  3. I have the perfect solution! http://www.amazon.com/Beer-Guzzler-Helmet-Yellow/dp/B000QV9XDI I'd be a little careful with the hot liquids in that one though! :)

  4. I have a w/c cup holder story, but I won't bore you with it. (you can imagine) Back to the dog--too funny. I love the way you write with humor, and I know how certain dogs hear only suggestions. I have good luck with dogs. I am very alpha male and have yet to meet a dog that didn't catch on to THAT very quickly. (Though some still only hear a suggestion--LOL) I agree with Cranky, if I could only patent and sell every idea I have (from living with "lack of") well, you and I would both be ba-billionaires.

  5. I, too, am amazed that no one has thought to manufacture such a device. I, too, may need one sooner than later. We hear that "Necessity is the mother of invention," so why aren't these inventions happening? Maybe one of us in the "need" category can design products that we must have, and get someone to make them.

  6. Would love to hear more about the dog competitions. Hey, I'm training a cat to get used to a harness for security at the airport. Public humiliation, futility, oh yeah. Tell me more.

    Cupholder - really? Do you have an OT in the scenario? I'd think s/he would have suggestions. About the color scheme, natural earth tones are so over-rated.

  7. Wish I had payed more attention. Joel made something for his mom Barbara from clear tubing similar to what you use in a fish tank and molded it to go from cup holder and up the side where she could get to it umm ... but I mean the yellow is so bright and cheery in a spring flower kind of way?

    More dog stories!

  8. Could you tell me please the name & brand for this product? I need it for my baby's crib.
    Thank you!