Friday, 11 September 2009

Faster Than A Speeding Snail

Yesterday I had a fitting for my new wheelchair. Yes, it's the kind of wheelchair that needs fitting. Mind you, it also the kind of wheelchair that requires an engineer and a physiotherapist to explain how it works. It has so many configurations I began to think piloting a Harrier Jump-Jet would be simpler. The controller has more modes and computing power than Deep Thought.

The chair is amazing. Thanks to a grant from the Joseph Patrick Trust I have been able to have a seat-riser fitted which allows me to rise up to my standing height. The seat tilts as my current seat does, but in addition the back-rest moves independently. Each of the foot-plates can be adjusted at the press of a button. As I played with the controller I found that I could configure the seat so that for the first time in years I actually felt comfortable. The expression of relief on my face made Polly feel quite emotional. Little details like calf supports and silicon gel covered armrests add to the degree of comfort. Even the head-rest is infinitely adjustable.

Of course, this being me, not everything was perfect. The chair is significantly higher than the present one which means we need to raise our dining table using blocks. And because the motorized foot-plates are more complicated to take off the carers are going to find transfers more difficult. The chair is a little longer as well which means taking certain corners around the flat will be more challenging. I'm sure these things will lead to a deal of frustration and no doubt those frustrations will be reported on these pages but at the moment I am almost beside myself with excitement.

The wheelchair has gone away for fine tuning and adjustments, not least to reprogram the controller so that the chair goes at more than the 0.5 miles an hour it would only go yesterday. This was particularly embarrassing when I wanted to nip out to the car and check that the chair would fit in it. It took nearly 15 minutes to get round the corner while the engineer frantically phoned the office for instructions on how to access the power menu. I am assured it was only a programming glitch and can be easily fixed. I hope so or all I will be taking delivery of next week will be a very comfy armchair, albeit one that moves faster than a speeding snail.

I will keep you informed.