Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ray's View

Ray's View

This page is being kept separate from our main blog as its more for editorial comment on working with what is classified by others as "A Disability" not just mine but others who have granted me permission to add their links and stories. As well as reviews on tools other than anything to do with our - Sue's and my blog activities.

Anyone wishing to contact me on this subject can do so at or comment on these pages. I do ask a contact be left so I can return an answer please. Please keep it with in the frame of people whom suffer any medical condition and hobby interests regarding machine and there use no matter how small or minor you consider that to be.

I am disabled as classified by others and in ways by myself, often because of others and how they see me. This is the same for many who suffer any medical condition.

I have no connection with any company mentioned here other than I have bought or am interested in someway in the products be it the use of for myself or for others who have some form of medical condition and in which I see the product can be bettered for their use.  It is not a product or company bash but as Safety issues have taken over common sense many machine designs have now become for some impossible to use. I hope as I point out what I see as grave design flaws for people especially those with alternative needs or possible improvements they maybe taken on board and improvements made. The trouble is none of us are the same and needs are different for each and everyone able or not.

ABOUT ME and my medical condition/s.
I have whats called Charcot Marie Tooth or so I was diagnosed at age fourteen after seven years of investigation. Yes thats right seven years before I was slotted into CMT. Poked, prodded, X-ray, scanned, shocked and in one test shaken like a cocktail with a blue dye in me,  some would say tortured.  Dr's had no decent link to what was wrong but CMT came closest, I was at the bottom end of the scale so far removed from the mainstream with NO hereditary links. So I was stuck in "The to hard basket" an anomaly.
Since 1996 I have had 4 DNA tests done all of which have proved without a doubt I am not mainstream which thanks to Prof James (Jim) McLeod who I had seen as a specialist from age twelve until he retired had discussed with me and verified long before these DNA test came into existence. Smart man that one talks to his patients and listens even if they are aged twelve.

In essence the nature of my disability is like a tap which is turned down so low a trickle of message from the brain gets through to nerves which then give commands to muscles to do the work ( I have not been able to wiggle my toes since age ten). My condition is in the extremes like hands and feet where strength are effected, but if I work these areas I gain some strength.


Like in some work places where bosses hand down tasks and employee's refuse to work. Thats what some of my muscles do but more like they just do not react. I have all sense and feeling and no pain from this. I do have pain from arthritis, lower back injury, neck and shoulder injury etc. Just like whats classified as a normal person if there is such a thing (do you suffer any medical condition, poor eye sight, hay fever, hair loss?). My reaction times are often faster than others my own age and my ability to sense danger also and act accordingly where others more able may wait till it happens.

I began working life from age fifteen through till a work related injury (I fell and broke a Patella) and insurance companies refused to cover me because I have CMT. As I found out they will not  insure people with disabilities here in Australia for workers compensation, that was a recent as 2000. After a lot of research I discovered that this is all sanctioned by our Federal Government and Human Rights Australia. So I was employed, miss-lead by not just Government bodies but also the leaders of the the Nation and Insurance companies that I could and would be treat just like any other employee. Apparently its not just here in Australia either.

I have done a range of jobs from as young as twelve, paper runs, pamphlet drops before leaving school, a Christmas 6 weeks at Roseland Grace Bros in sales menswear. I had two choices when leaving school Edited sorry I had three choices. To do what mother wanted of me or do what I wanted of myself (mum and Dad had separated in 1966). The third was partly mothers choice as well, a visit to Prof J Mcleod's office where had papers to sign me off for life on Disability benefits back in 1966 I walked out of his office insulted although returned where he and I discussed me going out and having a great life doing what ever I wished work wise.
I chose a Mechanical apprenticeship but transferred to Motor Vehicle Building talk about physical work outs.  My work life centered around two main industries Autos, Bus and Coach industry, some of these have been discussed on our main blog.

Here's me and a Coach I drove in the late 1980's a job I loved doing.

Now onto the Main theme.
Ever since becoming involved in wood and metal work as a hobby it has been a misconception of others that I work from my wheelchair, even though some have seen how I get about in my own workshop and use my tools and machines.

Strange isn't it I started my hobby when a kid really, then again back in 2000 when I started to consider a hobby long before I had to use a wheelchair to get around. I started using one in 2003 for safety reasons, while out and about, after a kid who's mother couldn't be bothered keeping him in check let him run about in a major shopping mall, he clean knocked me off my feet.
Further injury in physio at the local hospital I was there having splints fitted and walking to the toilet. I ended up with a broken Tib and Fib of the left leg more strength loss during recovery time of 16 weeks and then a heart attack four years ago.

Like some I do not work from the wheelchair more like I hate to its not denial its painful !

I have given it a try with my Jet Mini VS lathe, this caused some serious discomfort to my lower spine and upper neck and shoulders region not just for a short period during but for days after. The whole set up was wrong for me personally. I have used a kitchen steel framed stool and normal bench at 750 high and the lathe on top, great but getting about the workshop was still a case of transfer back to the wheelchair etc etc. Ha ha ha I recalled wiggling the stool about the workshop short distances till I cracked the weld. Fixed that still have the stool and was using it just this week.

I have used a Triton Table saw from a wheelchair was just not practical and down right dangerous as there is no control at all of the timber. As I can still stand but lean on my arms for support I can not walk, I sat on the stool better but limitations to move about to adjust and pick things up.

I upgraded thanks to a good friend Geoff who scored a stack of office chairs, two being Draughtsman gas lift stools which I grabbed both. From here on in after fitting better wheels to the draughtsman stools, three with locks to stop the stool rolling away while transferring to it gave me much more freedom.

Here's one of them in my office Left set low to work at the desk. Centre At full height Right new wheels with locks
 The cast aluminium gives additional strength and support I can unlock the breaks with my heel just a tap is required. The only draw back is I have to adjust to the height I need first then climb onto the stool using a bench to stabalise myself.

I can now use my Bissato 4 bandsaw, my Nova 3000 wood lathe, Jet Mini, Myford ML7 metal lathe, Pedestal drill, GMC sliding compound saw and have access to almost all on my shelf system. Hop over to the main blog to see these. There are occasions I still require Sue or others help to reach or move things but with the stool its a lot less.

The only thing I do use in the wheelchair is the scrollsaw sometimes but again seriously my lower back and neck and shoulders suffer for days after so it is set it up on a stand or bench and me up on the stool. Why because to work with hands at comfortable angles tables would need to be so low I could not get my knee's under, therefore having to lean forward or to the side to work. Its all about Ergonomics.

Its strange how people think instantly of classifying others who have suffered a health related disability or serious accident as lesser able, less intelligent and not capable of choosing for themselves. When given all the facts a true assessment encouragement and the persons determination should be taken into account. All to often I have seen talented people side lined because others do not think they suit the profile.

Ray Sanderson


  1. Hi Ray,

    I received your email and replied. Looks like you are off to a nice start. I enjoy sharing too and this is a good way to show disabled doesn't mean unabled...

  2. Sandy from Lithgow29 June 2013 at 23:55

    Hi Ray ,
    Thank you for your interesting article, I am looking after a resident at work with CMT and he has the exact opposite attitude to you Ray and has been refusing to get out of bed for many years.

    cheers Sandy

  3. Hi Dan and thanks. 4th time lucky I hope in replying to your comment I had to make changes to allow it.

    Its through people like yourself who are allowing me to post their stories that this site will grow. Through that I hope even if it inspires just one person then it has achieved its goal.


  4. Hi Sandy

    Thanks for finding this Blog. I think if you also read Daniel Kautz whom I also posted about you'll see I am not alone with CMT.

    I do know that main stream CMT can cause pain and limit people quite a bit.
    Maybe allow the person to have a read of this blog we can only hope it does what it was set up to do.