August 23rd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 34
Newfound freedom for wheelchair user
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Anna Kroupina Photo
While Carmen has gained a lot of independence and freedom with her brand new Batec attachment for her wheelchair, pictured above, her next dream is to be able to once again ride on horseback. Her daughter Jesse is working hard to train a horse to adapt to Carmen riding.
Pass Herald Reporter
Carmen Linderman used to love riding horses, going to horse shows with her daughter, working her job as an EMT on the ambulance service, going on bike rides with her son.

In 2012, daily routine for Carmen and her family changed when, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2004 and Lyme disease several years later, she lost mobility in her legs and was constrained to a wheelchair.

“I had some weird symptoms, so I knew something was going on, but I didn’t think it would be that. It was a shocker and scary,” says Carmen of finding out about her MS diagnosis, only two weeks before her wedding day.

From then on, her husband or children would have to be nearby to drive her or push her around in her wheelchair, as it was difficult to navigate on her own.

Carmen’s tried various mobility tools throughout the years, from golf cards to quads, motorized scooters and Segways, but it’s Carmen’s brand new Batec machine that has really given her a newfound freedom to go where she pleases, when she pleases.

She received her Batec just over a week ago, and it is the perfect tool for someone that still has some mobility left in their legs, but not enough to transfer in and out of a scooter.
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“There are lots of different motorized options, but the problem with those is that my legs are so stiff that it’s harder for me to get on and off one of those than it is to use the Batec,” says Carmen. “It’s been life-changing for me.”

The Batec has been freedom-giving not only for Carmen, but also for her whole family.

“From my perspective, this is fantastic I would have to leave work from the hospital just to come and assist Carmen,” says her husband Troy, who works as a Manager of Operations for the South Zone EMS with Alberta Health Services. “Before, myself or my daughter or my son would need to help her do this. Now, she just does her own thing by herself.”

The $9,500 Batec vehicle has a bar that hooks up to the bottom of Carmen’s wheelchair, lifting the front wheels off the ground. It turns on with a key and drives 20 km/hr. It is powered with a battery that lasts for 40 km and is driven by twisting the handlebars to accelerate or break, much like in a motorbike.

The Ricky Ryp Foundation generously donated $6,000 to assist the Lindermans in purchasing the machine. The Foundation has previously helped financially with the remodeling of the household bathroom to make it mobility-friendly several years ago.

Done it all

It has been an uphill struggle for the Linderman’s since Carmen’s diagnosis. She has tried a range of treatments, including holistic approaches and more invasive surgeries, to combat her disease.
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She has done MS therapy for about seven years where Carmen gave herself a needle every day, but that didn’t seem to be working. She tried a controversial new therapy in India called CCSVI in 2009 where a stent is inserted into her neck to allow opening narrowed or blocked veins.

“We’ve done it all,” says Troy, adding that they are always open to trying new equipment, tools or designs that may help Carmen.

The biggest focus right now for the Lindermans is on relieving the neurogenic symptoms of MS and Lyme, not on battling disease. Carmen continues working with neurologists at the Calgary MS Clinic and a doctor in Seattle.

“We could do another round of treatment, but we’re not comfortable with doing that yet because it’s a very challenging piece,” says Troy. “With the symptom treatment, we’re trying to find Carmen tools and opportunities to live a fulfilled life along with treatments for pain management and stiffness that go along with what Lyme and MS have.”

The biggest lesson learned from Carmen’s disability is that we are the champions of our own health. Carmen herself did and continues to do plenty of research on new treatments or tools that may help her. It was through her research online that she found the Batec, a tool that no doctor had recommended for her previously.

“If I didn’t go off the mainstream path, I never would have found this thing. It’s been life changing and so helpful for us to have this. You just have to look for it. There are so many different options out there for people with disabilities,” she says.

“You have to find the right tools and unfortunately, there are a lot of tools out there that aren’t government-approved,” says Troy. “There are a lot of treatments and technology that can help, but you have to take the time to research and find them. Carmen dedicated a lot of time to that.”
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Looking forward

Carmen’s gotten much of her life back since her diagnosis. She does administration work for the Linderman’s companies full-time, she’s since gotten her driver’s license back and now, with the Batec, she has the freedom to move around as she pleases.

The next aspiration, she says, is to be able to ride her horse once again.
“She’s trying to live life and she’s doing really, really great. We lost so much, but she’s fighting,” says Troy.

“The more positive you make it, the better it is. We lean on each other and on our faith and just keep going forward,” says Carmen.

“It’s a life sentence, but it’s not a death sentence. You just make the best of it.”
August 23rd, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 34
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