Monday, 15 June 2009

Not Just A Chair

Oh the dilemma.

If you have had the time or inclination to read previous posts you will have discerned, via the subtle shades of my writing, the merest hint that all is not well regarding the stability of my Muscular Dystrophic condition. Reading between the lines, the more astute among my readership will have gleaned the faintest inkling of my dissatisfaction with the situation, and some may even have gone so far as to wonder what, if anything, can be done to help.

The problem, in a metaphorical nutshell, is that the loss of core muscles in my trunk means that balancing my body has become wearing in the extreme. Every movement requires micro-adjustments and my wheelchair does not give me sufficient support to allow me to rest in one position for any length of time. As a result my shoulders, legs and back ache constantly and physically it is very tiring. The solution would be a new wheelchair that is infinitely adjustable at the touch of a button; but do such chairs exist? Of course they do, if you have the financial resources of, say, the arms budget of a medium-sized developed nation. They are called 'life-style' chairs.

However, having appeared appropriately pathetic before all sorts of doctors, OTs, physiotherapists and wheelchair service personnel the powers that be have determined that, in the long run, it will probably be cheaper and less hassle to give me a super-duper new wheelchair than have me clogging up their waiting-rooms and clinics or writing disparaging blog posts about them whilst demanding ever larger amounts of expensive drugs. To this end a man in a van came this morning with a demonstration version of a chair called a Salsa.

To you a Salsa is a sexy dance with a variable Latin rhythm, to me it's a sexy wheelchair with variable actuators. I was hoisted with my usual graceful dignity into the aforementioned chair and various adjustments were made and measurements taken. You can't buy one of these chairs off the shelf, they are bespoke. The intention is for mine to tilt back and forth, have a variable backrest and adjustable footrests, all controlled from a joystick and set of rinky-dink buttons positioned on my left. The controller seemed to have more buttons than a Grenadiers dress uniform. Obviously I couldn't help but fiddle. After pressing a seemingly random combination I found myself rising into the air. Up up and away I went until I was looking down on Polly and my head brushed the light-shade. It is years and years since I stood so tall. I resisted the temptation to tell Polly her roots need re-doing (they don't! Her hair colour is completely natural) and realised that Sam had hidden the TV remote up on a hitherto unseeable shelf. I hummed that song by the Carpenters about looking down on creation. This was brilliant! It had no clinical value whatsoever but it was still brilliant. Slowly I came back down to earth. The nice lady from the wheelchair service looked anxiously at her notes and reminded me that a seat riser was not in the specifications the NHS were budgeting for. “It's another £1100 more, ” the man concurred cheerfully.

So, here is my dilemma; do I spend more than a thousand pounds on a an extra bit of wizardry that enables me to go up an down and look grown-ups in the eye? I know I don't NEED it, but. . .

They took the demo chair away and have promised to return with a sparkly new one for a second fitting at some unspecified point in the future.

I'll keep you informed.