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The First 50 Miles

Last Wednesday I did my 50th mile in my new powerchair.  I was in Bournemouth for the day.  I’ve been meaning to write this entry ever since but I’m finally doing it because if I don’t I’ll have to write it tomorrow and title it “the first 60 miles”

In that time I’ve

  • Been for coffee with two different groups of friends
  • Wandered around town a lot just trying it out and seeing what it can do.
  • Done errands and supermarket trips and other boring things.
  • Realised that I will not be able to get my hair cut in this chair
  • Got on a train for the first time in nearly three months
  • Made three separate train journeys one of which involved changing.
  • Went to Reading for shopping and treated myself to new perfume
  • Took my nephew on a wheelchair accessible roundabout at the park
  • Been to CAB
  • Made a second trip to Reading to meet a friend for lunch and cocktails (and accidentally bought two books whilst there)
  • Had a day out in Bournemouth with another friend – we walked along the sea front a bit, had lunch on the pier, visited the Oceanarium and walked through the gardens.
  • Been on a bus
  • Officially made it longer than I did with the Salsa before damaging it (two weeks to the day after I got the Salsa I did a couple of hundred quids worth of damage. The Jive is undamaged)

I’m not planning on going to Bournemouth again (I would but I feel like we’ve done it and I have other places I’d like to go), I’m unlikely to go on a roundabout again and I won’t be going on another bus.  I desperately hope not to damage it. But the rest is on the list for things to do again.

train station platform

two cocktails (margaritas) one empty, one full

the sea at Bournemouth

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Penguins at Bournemouth Oceanarium

Me in my powerchair on Bournemouth pier with the sea in the background. I'm wearing pink and purple

 

r-net powerchair control showing 50 miles travelled

Jive Talkin’ (part two)

Part two of my review of my new Quickie Jive M Hybrid. This is more my thoughts and experiences now I’ve had it a week. Part one is here.

Me in my new chair - side view so the chair is visible moreI have got on very well with it although I have had a few problems but the tech came back out on Wednesday to troubleshoot (a return visit for troubleshooting was always planned but had to take place much sooner than we had intended due to two full blown problems rather than the niggles we expected) and these appear fully resolved.

I got the version with swing away footplates as opposed to a footboard (I like the look of a footboard more than swing aways but just can’t keep my feet on one) and found on one side it was catching on the castor arms when I put them out. Luckily I’m short and when my footplates had been set at the shortest level  it did work for me but it was thought that I might find after a while shorter would be better. The tech did something so I could have them slightly higher (I think he cut part of the stem off) and that sorted that.

The width of the chair was the other very major and completely unexpected issue. When I trialed the Jive we measured it and the Salsa and it was 2cm (or slightly less) wider which Mum and I both felt was fine.  But the version I trialled didn’t have lights and the one I bought does.  They were mounted on the frame in such a way that they became the widest part of the chair and added a couple of inches to each side.

When I went to CAB on Monday I got in the building but couldn’t get in the office.  So I once again missed both my sessions this week.  Somewhere else I went this week I could fit through the door but I had no idea where the lights were in relation to me so I smacked them on one side and one popped off it’s fixing. I swore a lot but thankfully the person I was meeting was able to push it back in place and it didn’t break. Judging by the picture on the website the stuck out position of the lights I had a problem with appears to be standard.

They’ve been moved so they are no longer adding width to the chair and I don’t anticipate any problems. But it wasn’t possible to move the back ones and have them on proper fixings so they are cable tied into place.

The suspension system on this is really great but it has taken a bit to feel comfortable with it as the way it works makes it feel a bit bouncy when I go over bumps, cambers or pot holes. Basically the castors all operate independently.  I do like it a lot and think it will make things like getting on and off the Tube and going over rough ground easier. I’ve been finding I just need to move with confidence and keep going because if I hesitate, slow down a lot or stop it feels much more difficult and I get stuck (which is a mental thing to do with feeling safe. I know it is but sometimes it doesn’t feel it.).

The best thing is that the suspension system on this is something different to others so it has a special name – SpiderTrac. That just sounds really cool and sci-fi like and is getting lots of love from people I tell.

Oh I realised that the entry I linked to yesterday doesn’t mention the custom colour like I thought it did. Basically standard fabric is black with gray panels and “eye catching” red stitching. I paid for custom so I could have all of it and all the stitching in black.

All in all I’m very pleased with the new chair – I’ve taken it on the trains twice now and managed well.  It’s definitely more powerful than the Salsa and I learned that the hard way when I took a layer of skin off when I first tried to get on a train.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to take it on the trains I couldn’t get the Salsa on from Didcot but I’ve not tried that yet.

I feel like my world is opening up again and I’m getting my life back.

And I got to go for those cocktails I wanted this afternoon

Jive Talkin’ (part one)

I got my new powerchair just over a week ago which means as requested it’s time to give it a review.  This will be a two part blog as it was getting a little long for one entry.  This entry is more about what I’ve got on the chair as opposed to my thoughts on it.

I have a Quickie Jive M Hybrid.

The M means I have the midwheel drive version.  I got my first midwheel drive chair by accident when I bought a barely used second hand one and ever since I’ve insisted on midwheel drive as they have such a smaller turning circle which means they can handle tight turns and small spaces better than R or rear wheel drive versions.

Recently I went somewhere in my manual and everyone else kept commenting that it was a good job I was in my manual chair and not my powerchair (or “big chair” as someone described it) as it would never have got round there.  I was thinking it was a shame I wasn’t in my powerchair as it’s midwheel drive and would have done it much easier!

Hybrid because it uses the same seating system that the Salsa did rather than the more complex seating system for the regular Jive.  On my Salsa I had a Jay 3 backrest with thoracic supports like on my manual chair. The Jive I trialed had a Jay Comfort backrest and I really loved that so I’ve gone for that this time. I don’t have any thoracic supports as I thought the shaping of the comfort would make it unnecessary (plus those things are a couple of hundred quid and can be added in later). I am beginning to suspect I may need to add at least one on (on my left) but it’s not a clear or desperate need so I’d like to give it a few more weeks.

I’ve added a headrest for the first time ever as I discovered you legally have to have one on your chair to travel by car.  I was told that responsibility lies with the driver and they were happy to sell me a chair without one. Mum insisted though (I was leaning towards no as it’s a way to save money) and I have to admit that’s the sensible decision.  It’s taking some getting used to, possibly because it wasn’t in the right position to start with.  I’m still not 100% convinced it’s in the right place but as I said to the tech I don’t know if that’s because I’m not used to having one.  There is the option to take it off and just put it back on as and when I need it but it’s not something I’m keen to do as I’m then bound to take it off and end up travelling in a car unexpectedly.  It is nice when I’m sat tipped back reading.

One of the problems I had with my Salsa was it couldn’t handle steep gradiants.   It had a safety mechanism that killed it off if you tried to take it up anything it deemed too steep. But it often didn’t do things I thought it should. The Jive can handle steeper gradiants and I’ve also had motor and speed upgrades (although I had the same speed upgrade on the Salsa) to help with that.

I wrote about upgrading to an R-net control a few days ago. I’m still loving that and have done roughly 33 miles since I got the chair.

The only other things I’ve had tweaked on the chair I need to mention are my custom colour that I wrote about before it came and upgraded batteries to give me a greater range between charges.  It blows my mind how far I can get between charges (and I haven’t seen any low battery warnings or come anywhere near close to one) but part of me does wonder if part of that is knowing how far I’m getting now I have R-net as opposed to not having any idea when I had VR2.  But it definitely does seem to have a greater range.  I’m looking forward to getting out for a whole day later in the week and seeing what it can do.

 

 

Reading Down My TBR Pile

I’ve read two books this week (well, one was an audiobook but I always count that as reading).

I’m on “staycation” for the next week (although I’ve actually not been to CAB this week due to an issue with the new powerchair) with lots of chill time and fun things that involve train trips planned so I suspect next week’s list will be a lot longer!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwoood.

I first read this years ago when it came up in conversation with one of my CAB colleagues and she lent it to me.  It was both my first Atwood and my first dystopia.  I’ve gone on to read many of both. Recently someone on Twitter posted about reading this and I was inspired to reread it. As I had an audible credit waiting to be used I got the audiobook at that was definitely the right decision, it’s brilliant in audio.

This really stood up to the reread and I think I took different things from it this time.  If you’ve not read this you should. If you’ve never read anything by Atwood you really really should.

High Tide by Veronica Henry

This is a summery fun book.  An enjoyable escapist read and the complete opposite to The Handmaid’s Tale.  I do enjoy a Veronica Henry book now and then but they always leave me hankering to go to the seaside!

 

Wheelchair Woes

So I was really happy.

I finally after nine weeks+ had two working wheelchairs. My manual for the house (and the little bit out the house I use it for) and an absolutely amazing new powerchair that – teething problems aside – blows my mind.

Only my manual had been making a really terrible noise intermittantly along with moments of not feeling right.

I had no idea what was wrong with it and it was so intermittant that I didn’t see the point of calling the NHS maintenance team. I just knew they’d come out and it would be working fine at that point and it would be a waste of time.

Then it started getting worse and I was had a vague idea what it might be. But it wasn’t constant even if it was happening more often.  I decided I was going to have to call them but I’d leave it until some vague after I got my new powerchair time. I couldn’t cope with no wheelchairs of my own.

When the tech brought my powerchair out he moved the manual for me and spotted the problem. He told me what it was and said to get it sorted soon before it worsened as if it did I’d be stranded.

So I called them gave them a vague description and they agreed to come today.

Yesterday it deterioriated to the point I couldn’t use it. I couldn’t really move and I’m not sure how I limped it the 2 or so metres to my powerchair. I was just pleased I was in my bedroom when it went.

Mum came round and we both thought that it was beyond repair. It’s relatively old for a wheelchair (almost 7 years) and we could see the part that had broken was rusty.

I was like “four days?! I only get four days free from wheelchair problems?!” and I cried. I also warned everyone that I was unlikely to be going sailing as no manual = no sail.

Then I called the maintenance team to warn they it wasn’t useable.  I started explaining and he said “Is this Emma Crees?” This isn’t the first time he’s done that when I’ve called, I must be memorable or something!

I told them I didn’t think it was fixable and I was worried about being left with no manual chair. I knew if that happened they’d loan me one but I also know that my chair is a nonstandard size so thought the warning best.

He was absolutely admanent that he knew what was wrong with it, he’d tell the guy coming out, they’d have the part in stock and would make sure it was on the van ready. It was fixable and it was fixable here.

Fast forward to this morning and I’m reading my book by the window. The tech has my chair out by the van working on it. I can see him from the corner of my eye and I’m vaguely wondering what he’s doing because it looks more involved than I expected. This is concerning me.

He came back in and he was like “Your backrest was loose so I tightened it. I fixed your thoracic support and I tightened your footplate too.”  I was really pleased (especially as that thoracic had been broken for aaaaaages as I thought I’d need to go to the hospital to get it fixed as they’ve previously been considered too specialist for the mobile team and who could be doing with that?) but none of those were what I’d called him for so I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

He didn’t have the correct part to fix my broken castor (turned out I’d lost a bearing), the one he had was the wrong size. He’d put it on but it wasn’t sitting “right” so he’s ordering the correct size and will be back.

Not only do I have a fixed wheelchair, I have a wheelchair that’s in better condition than it’s been in over a year. And I got to go sailing too.

Here’s hoping that troubleshooting the new powerchair goes just as well tomorrow and I can truly have no wheelchair woes!