Anyone looking from the outside might wonder why I have so many wheels to my name. No, not fancy cars, but my collection of mobility aids. I take no shame in needing all these, as each and every one has a different purpose.
To keep my mental health intact, fresh air and getting out of the house is essential.
The limits my manual wheelchair were placing on me by only being able to go to smooth surfaced places, like supermarkets and shopping centres, was too restricting. I found mobilityhire.com for my hired powerchair and honestly haven’t looked back.
I’ve learnt several things since getting my first powerchair and figured should share some of them with you all!
Always bring a plastic bag for your powerchair joystick
If you’re in the UK, you just never know when it’s going to rain. Even in the “summer”. Inverted commas around “summer” used entirely on purpose. It seems there isn’t a complete consensus on whether you can use a powerchair in the rain but seeing as the brochure for my powerchair features 2 people using it in the pouring rain, it must be ok. And the manual talks about “when you use it in adverse weather conditions…”. I mean, you can’t expect someone to only use a powerchair in dry conditions, surely? You’d never go anywhere!
However, the control system (where the joystick is) is obviously a set of electric buttons that needs to stay dry. I can’t imagine that would cope very well in the pouring rain. So, a plastic bag is a necessity. I always have one in my handbag, and whip it out (the plastic bag that is) and pop it over the top of the control panel. My hand holds the plastic bag in place while using the joystick.
Your legs get cold. Really cold.
Something I never really thought of prior to wheelchair use. Obviously you’re not moving your legs so they get cold. I’m still on the look-out for an adult sized footmuff similar to the ones you get for prams (and I was always jealous of E for using when she was a baby) but for wheelchairs. If anyone sees a jazzy looking one, i.e. not one of those boring looking ones in the mobility magazines, do let me know!
Dedicate a bag of sorts to go on the back of your chair.
You can’t guarantee you’ll always have a second hand free to hold something on your lap. I made the mistake of going out without the big handbag I use on the back of the chair. Big mistake. There’s no storage basket thing under a powerchair with those giant batteries in the way, so your lap is the only option. But plastic bags are very slippery! Very very frustrating journey home.
The control system is very attractive to toddlers
If you don’t have a child, then you’re free from this one. I’m just waiting for the day that E decides to move the joystick when I’m not looking, sending us flying. Or when she climbs onto the chair herself, she’ll give herself quite the fright I reckon.
Dropped kerbs are really annoying.
These are so unbelievably annoying. Mainly because they’re not flush against the road, so there’s still a bump to have to get over to get onto the pavement. Even more annoyingly, when people park over the top of them. Over the top of the dropped kerb! So round in circles one goes, finding a driveway to use instead.
The world is not designed for wheelchairs. There are steps into pretty much every single shop and café, apart from supermarkets, making most places impossible to get into. It’s frustrating to have to plan ahead each powerchair journey, planning out where one can go (and not go as the case is).
But finally, the most important thing I’ve learnt is:
The powerchair is my huge symbol of independence.
When your legs burn with such force upon walking, and fresh air is hugely important to you, a powerchair becomes the only option. I’m so very grateful that mobility equipment hire companies actually exist, allowing you to try out the product first before committing to buying one.
This is my second hired powerchair, and I love it. I don’t know if I’ll hire different ones to this but for now, this one is fab.
Readers, tell me about your power chairs. Have they improved your quality of life or are they more of a hindrance? I’d love to know more about your experiences.