Friday, 14 April 2017

Permobil Unreliability

The Permobil's motor has yet again inexplicably stopped running again - twice in recent weeks.

I currently find myself in transition, moving between two homes.  I have left the Permobil at one residence and have the Quantum at the other.  With the new battery installed in the old hand-me-down Quantum, I've been using it heavily without any problems.  On the other hand, the Permobil has again, on two occasions, had a motor stop running causing the one functioning motor to turn the chair in circles -pivoting around the non-functioning tire.

There is no "computer" read-out on the joy-stick LED's.  (Pattern of flashing of the Light Emitting Diodes (LED) suppose to be diagnostic of powerchair problems).  The motor just fails!  Every time now the motor fails when beginning to reverse from a full stop -it fails in reverse!  The Permobil was on a flat indoor surface on each occasion -several times on a low pyle carpet and this last time on a linoleum tiled floor.

Permobil failed to acknowledge that I have a problem with this powerchair.  They need a code to diagnose the problem and there is no code displayed.  Both motors have failed and been replaced, one twice!  The on-board power computer has also been replaced and the problem has not been solved.  Permobil's suggestion was that I buy yet another motor at $945.54 Cnd (installation extra). They only offer a 90 day warranty on the motors showing how little faith they have in their own product.

My wheelchair technician discovered that if you unplug the motor from the molex (?) connector and then reconnect it, the motor appears to reset itself and operate again until it once again fails in hours or days or weeks.  This procedure involves having someone remove the rear plastic housing, then get down to floor level to find the connector plugs.  Chose the one leading to the motor in question - unplug it and re-plug it.  My technician discovered this -Permobil has no clue and no desire to troubleshoot -only to keep selling me more motors.

My lack of confidence in this piece of Permobil junk persists -having had replace almost every part of the chair and some parts twice.  I will no longer take this chair outdoors as it may fail where nobody is willing to get down on their hands and knees to follow my instructions and get me running again.

*   *   *

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Permobil: 50:50??

Just to be fair:  I was speaking with the wheelchair service technician from the same franchise I'm currently with, and I mentioned all the problems I've had with my Permobil M300 wheelchair.  His opinion was that with Permobil, "you either get a good chair and love it -or you don't".

If you feel that a fifty-fifty chance is a risk you wish to take, then by all means, choose a Permobil.  I have had so much trouble that I would not take another even if offered for free.

Good Luck!

*   *   *

Quantum Battery

I had been given a Quantum powerchair by a friend who knew of all the problems I was experiencing with my Permobil M300.  He explained to me that this was a "discarded chair" which had been "cobbled together" with some spare parts to make it functional. In particular, I was advised that the quality of the batteries was unknown.

As it would happen, the Quantum chair began to experience power problems after about a month or a bit more.  The battery(s) began to lose power after about a few hours and I would have to take a break mid-day to recharge.  As the problem was getting progressively worse with each week, I decided to call and establish myself with my service provider's franchise in my new city.

Once again, they responded in a prompt manner and were very professional.  The batteries in my 'gifted' chair were not appropriate in the first place as they were of a slightly lower voltage.  The service technician replaced the batteries to the cost of ~$850 Cnd including the service call.

While this was an expensive repair, the Quantum chair was invaluable to me and I remain delighted to have it.

I currently have two Power wheelchairs and am eligible for a new replacement chair late this spring.  I really am not contemplating getting rid of any as I will have enough space to store those not in use.  While I have no confidence in the Permobil M300, it is almost a new machine with virtually every part replaced on it over the years of my owning it.  I had solid rubber tires put on it so I can use it in my shop once I get it together -no fear of running over nails and such.

Once moved in I hope to get back to building guitars as I did pre-injury.

Permobil M300 Reliability & Other Thoughts

I did receive my Permobil M300 powerchair in December of 2016 back from the service provider.  They managed to get the chair's motor operational once again -somehow resetting it.  Further consultation by my service provider with Permobil's home office failed to resolve the power problem.  Permobil was disinterested.

My service provider once again replaced the electronic control unit of which he had managed to scavenge a used unit from discarded Permobil powerchair.  I purchased a new electronic power control unit in April of 2016 when it first failed.  Althought there was no evidence that this new unit was defective and causing the motor shut-down, problems started some time after it was installed.  As Permobil was of no help, my service technician was trying anything and everything to resolve my motor power problem.  With the used electronic power control unit installed and the motor reset (by unplugging it and re plugging it into the wiring harness that comes from the controller -the chair ran properly and he was unable to reproduce the power problem under various conditions and loads.

Bottom line:  My Permobil M300 is currently running as expected, however, I still have no confidence in the chair and always wonder when, for no obvious reason, it will decide to stop running properly.

I simply have no confidence in this Permobil product!

Missing In Action

I've not added any new posts to this blog since late 2016 due to the death of my 92 year old father.  As sole beneficiary and executor of his estate, I have been quite busy, not only in my current home but in my future home.  As I have inherited his home, my preference has always been to move there as it was my childhood home.  Renovations had to be made to make it accessible.  Some renovations are completed, others will be a work in progress and still others will be deferred to a later time.

My friends "gift" of a used Quantum powerchair could not have come at a better time.  With my time split between my current home and my new home in another city some forty minutes away, I was able to leave my Permobil powerchair in my current home and transport the Quantum to my new home.  With two chargers, I now have usable powerchairs at each location which makes the transition much easier.  I can shuttle between locations using my manual wheelchair then use the powerchairs within each home without having to ship a powerchair back and forth.

I will share some of the accessibility related renovations, from my current home and my new home in upcoming posts.  I will also address some of the questions related to spinal cord injury and "recovery" as I experienced it - as I can only speak for myself.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Still Broken

I last posted on October 26th that the Permobil failed yet again.  Today is November 23rd and the Permobil has been in the shop for just short of a month now with no resolution in sight.  Motion Specialties is baffled and Permobil U.S. has shown no interest in helping solve the problem but have indicated that they are willing to sell me a new motor every ninety days; their faith in their product reflected in the length of warranty they offer.

The Permobil has cost me as much to repair as I originally paid to acquire it.  It was gently used almost exclusively on indoor surfaces.  After four years it has become nothing more than a paper-weight sitting on my repair shop's floor.

Even if I was to get it back, I hesitate to use it alone or in public as I no longer have any confidence in its ability to get me to where I'm going.

So I continue to use my privately acquired old 'loaner' Quantum powerchair without experiencing any problems to date.

Does anyone really believe that I was sold the only "Lemon" in their crop?

*   *   *

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

...and Again. No Sooner had I posted the previous...

Like a bad joke Permobil is playing on me...Bad Karma perhaps...

No sooner that I had posted the previous two Posts that the Permobil failed once again.  Left motor doesn't turn.  I managed to push and pull myself manually to the Quantum and climb aboard.  Thank goodness I have that especially while alone at home.  Still, a loaner chair feels like putting on some other persons shoes and walking with them.  Grateful for the leather, but not exactly comfortable.

Gonna call my service tech and see if he wants to join me in the backyard when I put a few shells through the Permobil Trash Basket!
*   *   *

Quantum to the Rescue

Through a sympathetic friendly person with connections, I was offered the continued use of a Quantum Power Wheelchair.  It is a used chair of unknown vintage however I am most grateful to have an alternative to the 'all-but-new' (virtually every part replaced) disastrous Permobil M300.  I have one more year to wait before I am eligible for government assistance (ADP) in replacing the bucket of bolts carrying the Permobil label.

I have more faith in the old Quantum than the perpetually rebuilt & re-serviced Permobil.

You can be certain my next chair will NOT be a Permobil and I have not nor will not be recommending it to anyone except if they wish to buy a very large paper-weight!

Spare Used Quantum Power Wheelchair as a back-up to my disastrous Permobil M300

*   *   *

Permobil Problems Persist

September 27th, 2016 - My Permobil M300 once more returned from the repair shop with no definitive answer to why the 2nd new left motor stops running for no apparent reason.  Power to one side and no power to the opposite has the wheelchair only spin in circles about the dead wheel.  Permobil sales representative and Permobil U.S. showed little interest in the problem and offered no solution.

October 25th, 2016 - Just short of one month, the same problem re-occurred with the same motor.  Yesterday the motor cut out twice, refusing to run.  My service tech discovered that unplugging the motor from the wiring harness and then re-connecting it seems to somehow reset the motor allowing it to run again for what, an hour, a day, week or month?  Luckily my wife was not out of town and she was able to carry out the task which entails removing the battery cover and rear housing.  Wires are at floor level -there are several (3?) so if the right one isn't hit right away, un-plug and re-plug them all.  Yes, the connectors, wire harness and wires seem sound and does not appear to be a bad electrical connection.  Unplugging appears to reset the motor in some manner.

On my own, I doubt I could get the chair operational if it cut out on me

When the motor fails:
  • The chair is stopped on a flat surface and fails when I try to resume moving
  • The chair is under no additional load - it is not carrying anymore weight other than myself
  • It may be a coincidence however on all occasions, it failed while trying to reverse away from a desk.
  • The chair is gently used between three rooms, four if you count the washroom

Imagine if your car Dealership and Repair person cannot find why your car shuts down expectantly and the only solution that can be offered is to step out, open the hood and wiggle some wires -then hope for the best.

This Permobil M300 has lived in the repair shop almost since its purchase and I'm not entitled to ADP assistance until next year.

The question is WHEN this piece of junk will break down again, not IF and the only solution I have to get going again is to get to the rear floor level of the chair and wiggle wires.

*   *   *

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Permobil is Rollin' Again...But For How Long?

I feel like I'm walking driving on eggshells! 
Saturday September 24th, 2016, ~ 9:00 pm -Permobil power wheelchair breaks down as it can only pivot in circles around one wheel indicating it is not getting power or is inoperative (broken).  Problem identical to previous motor breakdown where motor was grudgingly replaced by Permobil U.S.

Monday September 26th, 2016, 08:00 am - Call my wheelchair service provider, Motion Specialties and leave message detailing new problem.

Monday September 26th, 2016, ~12:00 pm - Service call returned.  Will send service technician tomorrow (Tuesday).  Incidentally, Motion Specialties is so overwhelmed with service calls after Shoppers Home Healthcare dumped all their clients onto Motion Specialties.  I understand, sympathize and offer my patience.

Tuesday September 27th, 2016, ~12:00 pm - Service technician arrives and is well familiar with this Permobil 'piece of junk' that I own.  Doe's not bother looking at it in my home but takes it straight to the shop.  Will try to get loaner chair for Wednesday.

Tuesday September 27th, 2016, ~04:00 pm - Service technician expectantly arrives at my door with my powerchair.  Motor power cord was unplugged and plugged back in which appeared to reset the motor so that it runs again.  Shows me where, under the rear plastic housing, the cable can be located.  If this were to happen again I am to have someone unplug and re-plug the cord connector to hopefully reset the motor yet again.  This is good to know and fine if someone is home to help me as I cannot reach that low on the rear of my chair.  Currently I am home alone for an extended number of days.

Thursday September 29th, 2016 - Chair continues to run but I have no faith in its continued operation.  If it cuts out again, I cannot reset it until without calling someone up to come over and do so. I feel like I'm walking driving on egg shells waiting for the Permobil to break again!

Regardless -why did it stop working in the first place?  The two identical times this left motor stopped working, I was sitting at my computer with the power still turned on.  I drove up to my desk without any indication of a problem but when I tried to reverse, the chair pivoted around the 'dead' motor side.  I could only turn in a circle.  The chair stopped working when not under any load.

After my retirement, this chair has been used exclusively indoors between three rooms, four if you wish to include my tour around the washroom.  One floor surface is linoleum type tiles while the other two rooms are a very flat, low pyle carpet -hardly a source of great resistance.

So, I currently am riding a Permobil power wheelchair which may stop operating at any time without notice and my service provider does not know how to correct this problem (other than rooting around the cabling and plugging - re-plugging) and Permobil head office in the U.S. cannot care less!!

I have almost a year to go before I can replace this piece of junk and you can bet it will not be a Permobil!!

*   *   *

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Permobil Broken Again!

Permobil Thinks I Have Money To Burn!! 
Well, I spoke too soon!  Do you believe in a jinx?  Did I jinx my chair by noticing it was still running?  I started my previous post on September 21st by saying my Permobil M300 was still running after both Right and Left Motors were replaced earlier this year and the Left motor was replaced twice.  That's right - three new motors since January of this year.

This evening my chair again stopped working in an identical manner as last time.  I try to back up from my work desk and the wheelchair feels like it is struggling - like something is caught in one wheel binding them up.  The chair will not back-up straight, but turns, and turns sluggishly.  One motor is not engaged (left I think) or perhaps does not receive full power.  As a result the working motor pivots (pushes) the chair around the non-powered tire.

I disengaged the motors (manual mode), then re-engaged them hoping that resetting them cure the problem. Nope!  There are no indicator lights on the joystick flashing error codes.  One motor is either damaged (unlikely as this is the second replacement).  At the end of last year the control module died requiring its replacement.  Could it be that the new, replaced controller unit has a fault that shows up periodically?  Is there a power distribution problem in the Joystick itself?  Where can this problem lie?

One of the motors failed just past three months after it was installed.  Three months is the length of Warranty Permobil offers on their fine product.  If not for the persistence, and insistence of my repair shop supervisor, I would have had to fork out another $945.54 Cnd.  Now it appears as if the same motor has failed yet again.  It was installed on August 6th of this year so it appears to have broken after about six weeks of operation.  Will my repair shop supervisor have to fight to get this motor exchanged for yet another (3rd), if it is indeed the problem.

I can stand up.  Permobil knows I can as their sales person had the fold-up foot rest made specifically to fold beneath the chair, clear of my legs.  On standing, I brace against the chair and the motor brakes keep this chair from rolling back under my pressure.  Could that be damaging some component, perhaps the motor brake?  I stood with my old Quantum without any problem.  Permobil's sales person was eager to sell me this chair - so eager they outright lied to me on another issue.  Could it be that this chair's motor brakes are not strong enough to brace me and become damaged.  Why would someone sell me a chair that is not suitable for my needs if this is the case?  Pure greed, I imagine.

So, I am in my manual chair until I can call the service department Monday morning.  After that, it depends on whether they can diagnose the problem, talk Permobil U.S. into a replacement motor for the replacement motor for the replacement motor - if that is indeed the problem.

Last time my Repair shop supervisor spoke with Permobil U.S. it sounded like some Abbot & Costello routine where Permobil U.S. asks what code was showing and my service person says there was no code, where Permobil U.S.responds that they can't tell my service person what the problem was without a code where my service person points out that if he had a code he would know what the problem was and wouldn't be calling!

This Permobil powerchair has not left the house since the last motor was installed.  It travels between three rooms -four if you count the washroom.  Every part except for the steel tubing frame has broken and or been repaired/replaced.  Repairs have cost more than I paid for the chair in the first place.  I feel that Permobil owes me a grovelling apology and a brand new replacement chair.  Another chair manufactured by anyone but Permobil.  They think I have money to burn!!!

*   *   *

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Last Day of Summer 2016

Permobil Chair has not broken down in the last month.  I find that surprising.

What changed in year nine post injury to cause those massive 'Atomic' spasms to begin.  Previous to year nine, spasms would occur, most commonly in the evening, then run their tormenting course and leave me alone until the following evening.

In my ninth year - post injury, spasms still occurred during the evening hours but now they were so powerful and violent that I felt I was being disjointed - femur ripped right out of the hip socket with each massive spontaneous contraction.  The pain is excruciating!!

Prior to year nine, spasms primarily occur in the evenings but once they dissipated and died off, the would allow me to sleep uninterrupted until morning.  Now they can also occur, most often between 2:00 am and 4:00 am.  The generally do not wake me. I wake on my own to shift and change position which tends to trigger them.  Once started, they build in frequency and intensity until they die out, most likely hours later.  It is impossible to sleep or get any rest for that matter when one leg or the other (left is the worst) contracts so violently that it threatens to pitch me from bed.  You also can't use a laptop or read or do any other meaningful task while they are throwing you about.

My wife is out of town currently for an extended stay which now allows me to let out those screams of painful torment when my left leg tries to tear itself from my hip-joint.  The sciatic nerve also becomes either pinched or stretched adding further misery with each contraction.  Contractions every 3 to 10 seconds, violently, painfully, for hours on end.  It feels good to scream rather than to clench my teeth and grimace from a pain that brings tears to the eyes.

I feel that any effect the Baclofen had on my spasms has been lost. Do I find some neurologist and request a Baclofen pump?  It seems that the only ineffective treatment is to constantly increase the dosage.  An every increasing dosage that races your increasingly resistant pain to your most welcome grave.

I slept through last night.  The two nights previous, spasms kept me from sleep - both days between 2:00 am and 4:00 am.  Daylight doesn't wait!  What will tonight bring?

I stopped living long ago.  I exist...

*  *  *

Saturday, 6 August 2016

A New Motor to Replace my New Motor

Those who have followed my posts know that both my Permobil motors failed this year, within a month of each other.  Motors are not stocked in Canada and so have to be ordered and shipped from the United States.  You would think that with Faxing and e-mails orders could be placed withing minutes and with overnight courier shipping, items could arrive the next would think!

Followers may also know that one of my new motors acted up shortly after being installed.  With Permobil "shortly" is a very subjective term.  As best that could be determined, without a displayed code, and non-existent help from Permobil in Tennessee, was that the motor brake would not release.  The result was that I would spin in circles when trying to drive.

At the repair shop, the problem disappeared as it had appeared -without cause or notice.  The chair was returned to me but I had little confidence in its operation -when would this happen again?  I thought that was the end of it.

However, the repair manager at Motion Specialties repair facility did not give up.  Unbeknown to me he contacted Permobil in the U.S. once more and requested a replacement motor for my chair.  Motion specialties U.S. pointed out to him that the motor was over 3 months old and therefore the warranty had expired.  If I was to get another new motor, I would have to lay out another $945.54 (base price) and buy a new one outright!

My service manager took the issue right up to the CEO (if I understood him correctly) asking him if their products were so poorly manufactured, and that they, themselves had so little confidence in them, that they would only offer an 90 day warranty on their product.  After some discussion  Permobil authorized a replacement motor at no cost (original replacement to be returned to them).
I know of no disabled people who could afford to lay out $945.54, (installation is extra), ninety days after having just done that-twice!!!

Still, the problem occurred in July and it was only yesterday, August 5th, that the motor was exchanged.  Motion Specialties is very busy now that it has acquired Shoppers Home Healthcare's dropped operation.  However, they have always acted in a timely and punctual manner.  I have to wonder if it took over a month for Permobil U.S. to act.

I have to believe that this replacement motor of a replacement motor will work for the duration of this chair's life...or significantly longer than 90 days, in order to get my $945.54 out of it.

So, kudos to Motion Specialties, and my service manager for going above and beyond on my behalf.  Another big 'raspberry' to Permobil for producing a lousy product and not fully standing behind it.  For the former, their customers are everything; for the latter, profit is everything.

*   *   *

Again, I asked my service manager "why does your company continue to offer Permobil wheelchairs if they are this bad"  He replied that he had never seen a chair such as mine that essentially had to be replaced and rebuilt from the ground up in now, just four years.  He told me that they just received a Permobil powerchair in the shop that is having its first motor replaced after 9 years of service.  All I can think of is that they made things better almost a decade ago.

I will let the reader of this blog decide for themselves if Permobil is worth the risk.

*   *   *

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Permobil M300 Wheelchair -Lack of Confidence

I have no confidence in the Permobil M300 Power Wheelchair!
(will it get me to where I'm going...or not?)
My wheelchair service provider returned my Permobil M300 wheelchair a couple of weeks ago after being in the shop yet again this year (4th time).

The wheelchair service technicians could not find the source of the problem that caused the chair to only turn in circles, however, they believed the brake within one motor was not releasing.  If you recall from previous posts, both motors failed and had to be replaced a few months ago.  They are both new motors!

My service technician called Permobil U.S. in Tennessee, the nearest large distributor of the wheelchairs.  (I believe the U.S. Permobil headquarters is in Texas)  Permobil U.S. was less than helpful as they kept asking my technician for the error code.  There was no error code displayed - if their was, the problem would be evident and there would be no need to call!  Permobil in Tennessee just didn't get it and offered no solution.

So, although I've used the chair for just over two weeks with no further problems, the original problem was not found or resolved.  So, I use this chair with little confidence, not knowing if or when the problem may show up again.  I am in a Permobil wheelchair and I have no confidence in it getting me to where I am going.  What a fine product!

*   *   *

Permobil Wheelchair - Latest Part to Break & Fall Off

Cleaning the dust off of my wheelchair with a soft cloth, I see something fall off.  It appears to be half of a plastic washer or spacer.  It is not obvious from exactly where it fell or where it belongs.  When finished, I backed away and found the other half of the spacer.

 Latest mystery part to fall off of my Permobil M300 Power Wheelchair

I will place the pieces in a box with the rest of the items which have fallen off of this Permobil wheelchair and no longer are held in place where intended.

I don't wish to hear that "it's not important" as it was added to the wheelchair during assembly and served some purpose.  I paid for the part and for proper operation of this Permobil wheelchair.  The chair has been disintegrating piece by piece almost since obtaining it.

Plastic is a fine product however, it is most frequently used in the wrong places for the wrong purpose!  These days it is used to make products cheaper -not less expensive.  Bigger profits is the only concern!

*   *   *

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Expoding Airbag vs "Atomic" Paralytic Spasm

Exploding Airbag vs "Atomic" Paralytic Spasm:  Which is Faster?
(I think my spasm would win the race...)

A spasm so explosive, they occur with no warning as the affected limb reaches its maximum contraction and then attempts to painfully contract further.  A contraction so sudden, so violent and so extreme that your own body attempts to tear the limb from the joint.  If my foot was caught or restricted. by some object, I fear that bones may break. If not held down, my knee attempts to hit me in the nose!

I feel my "Atomic" spasms are so violently explosives that they explode faster than an automotive airbag on collision!

They can happen at anytime, however, they are all but guaranteed to occur most nights. On "better" nights (if anything about this affliction could be considered "better") they run their course, whether for an hour, or more likely for hours, then subside to let me sleep.

The last few nights were particularly bad.  Friday night I fell asleep around 11:30 pm only to be awakened at 2:00 am with spasms that tried to launch me from bed.  Fell back asleep sometime around 6:00 am and then tried to face the day at 8:00 am.  Four and a half hours total sleep.

Next night, Saturday, I try to go to bed at 11:00 pm with spasms already in full explosive glory.  Painful, explosive, rhythmic, contractions, one followed by another, over and over until after 3:00 am.  At least that is when I last checked the clock.  Up at 9:00 am so I finally got a solid six hours total of sleep.

My overall impression is that my body's increasing stiffness, tightens the muscles more on my left side which pulls on my hip which in turn tugs on the sciatic nerve (resulting in sciatic nerve pain in the hip and foot) and this tightness irritates the sciatic nerve triggering the spasms.  Pressure, stretching, massaging, drugs (Baclofen, muscle relaxants, analgesics) seem to have little if any effect on relieving  the spasms.

I am taking a total of 30 mg of the antispasmodic drug Baclofen, 3 times daily.  While I haven't independently verified this, my understanding is that this is about the maximum oral dose before unwanted side effects may start showing up.

 10 mg of Baclofen, 3 times daily = 90 mg/day

I wonder if my body has somehow become resistant to the action of Baclofen as I cannot imagine spasms being even worse if not on this drug.  In fact it has never had much of an affect on what I consider to be a spasm; the unintentional, rhythmic contraction of the affected limb.

Once, when I tried to slowly ween myself off of Baclofen, I found that the jerking spasms remained about the same in frequency and intensity.  What did increase is is an overall stiffness.  My body felt much more rigid and my legs wanted to "scissor" or cross.

When I tried Botox to loosen my Achilles' tendons, the administering doctor rattled off an alternative definition of 'spasticity'.  So, I wonder if the medical and 'common' definition of spasms are one and the same?

I have felt much stiffer in recent months and wonder if oral Baclofen no longer has the expected affect on my spasticity?  What would be the answer?  Increase the dosage?

I understand there is the 'Baclofen Pump' is a surgical option where a reservoir and pump is implanted to deliver liquid Baclofen via a tube directly to the spinal column.  I find this a rather distasteful option -I have to investigate this further.  Is this invasive procedure really the only remaining option?

I have no idea what torment tonight will bring.

*   *   *

Friday, 24 June 2016

Permobil M300 Still Broken.....Kind Of...

No Confidence in this Piece of Junk! 
Well, I got my Permobil M300 back today, exactly 2 full weeks after it was sent for repairs.  If you recall from my previous post, my Permobil once gain failed to back up and only turned in circles.

Last time it was the power control unit and so I suspected it was the same problem in a defective new unit.  However, last time the problem was displayed on my joystick hand control indicator as a sequence of flashing lights.  No coded message this time around.

Repair person came to my home and examined the chair to confirm the problem, then measured the electrical output from the recently replaced power control/distribution unit.  It seemed the controller was not the problem, rather one of the motor's internal brakes seemed to stick or not release properly.  Off to the shop it went.

Permobil M300 Clunker is still broken

So, after a week I call the shop for an update.  I'm told they will have a Permobil representative come down (?) or consult with them (this was unclear) on the following Monday.

Monday came yet I received no update;  I have patience so I wait.  Wednesday I call again and leave message on voicemail - nothing, Thursday I call again and leave message.  Employee calls to inform me that the Service Coordinator has had a personal issue to deal with and will call Friday.  Motion Specialties has always treated me well as had the Service Coordinator so I understand.  They will call on Friday.

Today, Friday arrives and my favourite service tech shows up at my door.  He has delivered my chair.

Good news and bad.

Bad News First:  The problem was evident at the shop but somehow corrected itself (sticky brake released?) and they were unable to reproduce the problem after trying various test runs.

Permobil in U.S.  were indifferent, unhelpful!

Service technician tells me that they contacted Permobil Service Specialists in their U.S. Tennessee plant and they were anything but helpful.  The needed the coded sequence of lights to diagnose the problem, however, as I previously mentioned, there was no coded sequence of lights.  If there was, the problem would be evident to our own service technicians without having to place an international call.  My service technicians impression was that Permobil U.S. also did not care about problems which occur after the sale is made.

So I now have my Permobil M300 powerchair back however some hidden problem remains with no way of telling when it may again repair.  That leaves me with little confidence in using this chair.

If it should happen again, I suppose the motor would have to be exchanged for a new one, assuming it happens while it is still under warranty.

Good News:  If there is any good news associated with my disastrous Permobil M300, it is that there is no charge at this time.  Stay tuned...

*   *   *

Friday, 17 June 2016

Permobil M300 In The Shop Yet Again...

For the fourth time this year my Permobil M300 is again in the repair shop, inoperable!..

My Permobil M300 "clunker" is in the shop for repairs, for the fourth time in five and one half  months.

Just before New Years of 2016, my Permobil's right motor died and had to be replaced.  It was finally replaced in January at the cost of $1137.99 Cnd.

Two weeks after my right motor was replaced, my Permobil's left motor died and had to be replaced at the cost of another $1137.99 Cnd.

In late March the Electronic Power Unit which controls the motors failed and had to be replaced at a cost of $650.00 Cnd.

(The above are only the most recent problems with my Permobil M300!!)

On each occasion the chair had to be taken to the shop for diagnosis and repair leaving me dependent on my manual wheelchair.  On each occasion the chair remained in the shop between one to two weeks waiting for parts to be shipped from Permobil's U.S. regional supplier in Tennessee.  When shipping the replacement Power Control Unit, the customs declaration  papers were not filled out properly by Permobil U.S. and the part was returned to the company further delaying my repair.  It appears that Permobil has only one small office in Aurora Ontario which attempts to serve the entire country.  From my experience, it appears as if they are solely a sales office and stock no replacement parts.

So now, in the first week of June, 2016, my Permobil powerchair once again lost power on one side, allowing the chair to struggle while only turning circles.  I pull up to my desk and work for a while, then when I go to back up, I don't go straight, but turn.   Again, one motor is working while the other struggles.

The repair person comes to my home and disassembles the chair.  Is it the new motor that is bad?  Does the electronic brake not release?  Is the new Electronic Power Control Unit that is bad?  And the repair person notices an additional power control unit which is generally only added when the chair has a secondary motor such as a tilting seat.  This chair has never had one, leaving him confused.  Of to the shop it goes.

Now, after 1 full week has passed I call my repair shop and am informed that a Permobil representative will be coming down to have a look at my Permobil M300 and that they hope to have more information for me on Monday, June 20th.

So, yet another sunny summer weekend about to start which I will spend indoors as my patio doors to my backyard deck are barely wide enough for my power chair to squeeze through.  My manual chair has canted (angled) wheels making the chair too wide to get through this newly renovated exit.

In summary, it appears as if my Wheelchair Repair Shop is baffled by the cause of my latest breakdown.  I continue to have utmost confidence in Motion Specialties as they have always responded to my problems quickly and professionally.  The same cannot be said about my Permobil M300 wheelchair or my experience with their salesperson.

I am hoping it is a problem with one of the recently replaced components as they should be under some sort of warranty after only months of use.  I do not need another expense!!  Everything has bee replaced on this Permobil M300 except for the Joystick, frame and 3 of 4 castor wheels.

If the malfunctioning part is under warranty, I suspect I still have to pay for the service call as it is not Motion Specialties fault that I own a piece of Permobil junk that fails monthly!

Since January, 5 1/2 months have passed.  In that time I have had to spend $3250.00 Cnd on repairing the Permobil M300 powerchair and of those 5 1/2 months, the Permobil has been in the repair shop for over 1 month waiting for parts to be shipped from the United States.

Since my retirement last fall, this chair has been used exclusively indoors between 3 rooms!  Hardly strenuous terrain!

My Permobil M300 Powerchair is more disabled than I am!!!

Stay tuned: Updates to follow.
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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

4:15 am: Bouncing in Bed

Not as exciting as one's mind may conjure from the title's description.

4:15 am and something is not right.  I feel a rocking motion but I'm not dreaming about sailing on the ocean.  Spasms!

Last night I had to wait for the creepy, buzzing, sparkling electrical feeling, above and beyond the constant burning sensation, in my bouncing, spasming right leg to subsided before I could fall asleep.

Now at 4:15 am I am awakened by my spasming left leg.  It is no use.  I can't get back to sleep; put the coffee on.

Right leg becomes "creepy" where it feels as if it inflates and a swarm of bees with extended stingers bounce around the hollow interior of my calf.  The sensation may also feel like the leg is filled with hot bubbling soda water with bubbles bursting as the touch the interior surface of the skin.  Or perhaps those Christmas sparklers which erupt in sparks when lit, each burning spark hitting the inside of my calf.  Then there are the rhythmic contractions; the pumping spasms - contract and relax, contract and relax, contract and relax - for up to six hours at a time.  Spasm may originate in the thigh but the calf is where the torment ultimately presents itself.

Left leg differs from right as the injury is not symmetrical. It seems as if the back gets tight and contracts tugging (stretching) on, or perhaps compressing the sciatic nerve.  These spasms can be of the simple variety as in contracting and relaxing or they can now be of the "atomic" variety where the leg contracts quickly and violently, trying to go past the range of motion that the joint was designed to offer.  These spasms may be so explosive and violent that they rival the speed at which an automobile air-bag would deploy as they try to disjoint your limb from its socket!  They can lift you up and even throw you from bed.

An interesting observation is that left and right never occur simultaneously (ie only one side spasms at a time).  There may be a momentary crossover when they change sides, but they really only happen on one side at a time.  Some sort of neurological pathway property??

Things aren't suppose to change so late post injury.  It was only last year, the ninth year post injury, that spasms woke me up.  They would run their course in the late evening and be done with until the following night.  Now they often wake me, extending their torment until dawn.

So too with the "atomic" spasms -the ones that try to disjoint you.  They started only in the ninth year (March) and have continued since.  Why so late when nothing else in my routine has changed?

So, running on about 4+ hours of sleep today.  Spasms can occur anytime, but they come with a vengeful force every nightfall.  I wonder what tonight will bring?

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

If My Foot is Itchy.....I Just Scratch My Butt for Relief!!

...Absolutely true!..

My spinal cord injury was not due to some physical trauma such a crushing or shearing motion.  Mine was damaged by infection: by Staphycoccus aureus bacteria which somehow got into my body and evaded my immune system's attempt to destroy them.  Once they took up residence on my spinal cord, they began living on the interstitial nutrients and they "crapped" out a variety of enzymes whose purpose is to further break down their surroundings for further nutrients (food) and to destroy or evade the body's immune response which tries to destroy the bacteria.

These enzymes have left my spinal cord physically intact for the most part, however the enzymes have fused some of the cord transmitting fibers or elements together resulting in electrical shorts or 'cross-talk'..

To simplify, if the spinal cord consists of transmitting fibers or elements, say lettered A to Z, which conduct the brain's commands to the lower body and relay sensory (and other) signals back up to the brain, some of mine have short-circuited.  Where A should continue along as A, B as B, C as C and so forth to Z, mine have been stripped of the electrically insulating myelin sheath and have fused back together in some other order. 'A' may now connect to C and D connect to F, G & H, while E may no longer connect to anything.  In my case 'Butt' is connected to 'Foot'.

It would be something like pouring some solvent over a bundle of wires (or perhaps burning the covering).  The plastic insulation surrounding the transmitting wires would melt and drip away exposing the metal core.  Metal transmitting cores can now touch one or more adjacent metal cores thereby short-circuiting the spinal cord transmission system.  This is what has happened to me.

The intact bundle of electrical conductors at top represent an intact spinal cord; a bundle of transmitting fibers or elements.  An injury resulting in the total severing of a spinal cord might be represented by the end of the top bundle where the conductors are sheared off exposing the ends and any signal transmission ends.

My injury is more like the bundle at the bottom where a solvent or overheating has stripped the insulation from the conducting fibers resulting in short-circuits.  Conductors are for the most part intact but the transmitting surfaces touch each other and 'cross-talk' or short-circuiting jumbles and scatters the signals. Commands may not reach the proper site for activation and feedback sensations such as pressure, temperature and proprioception may send back erroneous or confused information.

And so it is true.  When I scratch my butt (left cheek), I feel it in the arch of my left foot.  In fact I feel the scratch in both places; in the arch of my foot and at the site on my butt where I am scratching.  The signals somehow merge and a new pathway now exists.  Weird!!

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