Monday, 5 May 2008

Wheel Meet Again

Getting a new wheelchair was proving difficult; the Samba Quickie's tilt mechanism was only working intermittently and now I had discovered another problem. The armrests were the wrong shape. This may sound like a minor complaint, after all an armrest is an armrest is an armrest surely. Well yes and no. The thing is an armrest is also something to grab hold of when transferring from the bed to the chair and most particularly from the loo to the chair. Try as I might I couldn't get a hold of the darn thing. Not for the first time I stuck on the lavatory. In fact I was stuck between the two. The hoist was not an option because I was kind of lying sideways in an unstable tangle of legs, arms and wheelchair. I yelled for Polly.

It took much pulling and pushing and to be honest, a great many expletives on my part, before I regained a seated position, my composure and my dignity. By the time this had happened I loathed the chair with a passion I had previously reserved for the likes of Margaret Thatcher and people who let their dogs crap on the pavement. Needless to say I went back to using the Harrier and the Samba was taken away.

Fiona from the wheelchair service, however, is nothing if not persistent. Sometime later the Samba was back with a new armrest, designed to meet my exacting standards. Mind you, the tilt mechanism was still only working intermittently. Even so, I was persuaded to give the chair another go. So I set out in it to pick up the big boy from school, It is less than half a mile to the school but it was a pretty scary journey. Every time I there was slope, such as one caused by a tree root or a driveway, the chair would slew in the downhill direction. More than once I very nearly went over the curb which would have been catastrophic. I couldn't work out what was going on. I don't want to boast but I'm a blooming good wheelchair driver and I was sure it wasn't me. I made it back home with M, but as soon as I was it was back to the Harrier and bye bye to the Samba.

A few months later Fiona was back. This time she came with a man from the manufacturer. He watched me use the chair and sucked air through his teeth, The problem was, he said, that the seat was set too far forward; this meant that my weight was over the unpowered small front wheels. The chair was basically impossible to steer safely. It was also the reason that the tilt mechanism was so unreliable. He said he'd have a think. The chair was by now so familiar with the way out of the flat it could make it's own way back to the van.

I didn't see the Samba for quite some time. When Fiona rang last week to say she wanted to give it yet another go I was, I admit, a bit ungracious. Okay, but this is the last time, I growled. After all, if there was even the slightest chance it might work this time I owed it to everyone to give it a go. Not that I held out much hope.

That was last Thursday. I'm sat in it now. It arrived complete with an engineer who made some minor adjustments to the position of the controller. The tilt now tilts, the wheels now steer and I must say it's very nice. I can lie back in it which is exactly what I've been doing today, out in the garden, in the sun. Lovely.