Sunday, 4 May 2008

Where There's a Wheel There's a Way

For quite a while I've needed a new wheelchair. My trusty Harrier is rusty. I've had it for 10 years and I've just about worn it out. The frame is spotted with rust and the bearings make a slightly disturbing grinding noise. The arm rest is cracked, as is the head rest, and the seat is beginning to sag. More importantly, Fiona the very nice lady from the local wheelchair service, is concerned for my posture. Apparently I lean too much to one side and because I don't use footplates around the home I keep running over my own feet. So, I've been measured up and quizzed about my needs and expectations, I've been observed at home and outside, and I've shown her how I need to sit to work on the computer. This all started eighteen months ago.

The thing about a wheelchair is that it has to do everything. I have to be able to transfer in and out of it, I have to be able to eat at the table from it, work from it, brush my teeth from it, and watch TV from it. I also have to be able to get it in to our adapted van and safely lock it in position. It has to be able to get me to the local shops, park and library. The wheelchair has to be able to get me to the local primary school to pick up the boys, and be able to carry my 4 year old .home when he is too tired to walk after a hard days water play, colouring in and learning his shapes.

A wheelchair is a very personal thing. I'm in mine from the moment 1 get up until the moment I get back into bed. People say that a new wheelchair must be like getting a new car. It is, but it's also like getting a new pair of shoes, and an armchair, and a workstation, all at the same time. You have to get it right or your whole life is messed up.

The chair Fiona decided would be ideal for me was a (don't laugh) Samba Quickie. On paper it looked ideal; it was an indoor/outdoor chair and it had a tilting mechanism that would allow me to adjust position. Perfect. I was loaned the chair to try out for a few days and full of enthusiasm I transferred into it and set out to give it a proper test run. That is I would have done had I been able to transfer into it. The seat was all wrong. It was too rigid and I ended up balanced on it like one of those 1970s toys, a Weeble (Weeble`s wobble but they don't fall down)., only I did fall down. Or at least I would have done if Polly hadn't caught me. They took the chair away.

A month or so later it was back with a new padded leather seat. Great. Now at least I could sit in the thing. It was undoubtedly comfortable and I loved the tilting. I was left the chair and settled back to enjoy the mechanism. Except it wouldn't tilt. And then it did. And then it wouldn't. I was getting motion sickness and the chair hadn't gone anywhere yet.

I've got to go now, I've run out of time. I'll tell you the rest tomorrow.

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