And I Would Walk 500 Miles…

Last Saturday marked six months since I got my Quickie Jive M (I think I can no longer call it my new powerchair). I had done 487 miles in that time.

I was, however, a tiny bit disappointed that I hadn’t done 500 miles because then I could have written a blog entry using the Proclaimers song for a title. I was still going to write a blog entry about having had the chair six months.  But I was taking my time getting round to it.  Then this morning I did my 500th mile.

So now I can both write a blog entry about having had the chair six months and using the proclaimers song for a title. This is silly but makes me happy.

That’s absolutely flown by in many ways.  And it blows my mind to have done so many miles. To have been so many places and done so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to without a powerchair. Some of which I wouldn’t have been able to do without this powerchair.

When the wheelchair tech delivered the chair he referred to it as “black beauty” (because I’d been so insistent on having it in black).  It’s still black now but wether he’d still call it beauty I don’t know – it’s muddy with the odd scratch and several loose bits – Mum had to come round as an emergency on Saturday when I found a bolt hanging out and tightened that and several other bits. One of which is already hugely loose again. And it’s noiser than it was.

The number of miles I’ve been doing per month has been lower over the last few months as I’ve been doing less in the cold weather.  And my wheelchair batteries are definitely not holding a charge as well as they were because of that cold.

I’m definitely looking forward to the warmer weather and getting out do more things again. I think my next big trip will be Birmingham to see Billy Elliot the Musical in April with a uni friend but I’ve got a date in the diary for cocktails in Reading with a twitter friend and other things are a work in progress.

It definitely feels appropriate to end this entry like this

…and I would walk 500 more!

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.

 

 

Miles on my Tyres

I go pretty much everywhere out of the house in my powerchair (the only place I go with any regularity in the manual is sailing).  And I get there in the powerchair.  I don’t as a general rule use taxis as they are difficult to find around here (accessible ones) and expensive. Plus I live very very close to the train station and close to town so it’s not really necessary.

On a daily basis I would say I probably do two or three miles in the powerchair as it’s probably somewhere in the region of two miles to do a round trip to town.  I say probably, I’ve never known for sure.

With the Salsa I wore the castors out several times (I forget how many but maybe three or four times? It’s hard to say as I wouldn’t usually need all four replacing at once).  And it really irritated me as to me they should be much longer lasting than they were. Those things are expensive, the chair was expensive they should have been much more hard wearing.

It felt like everytime I called the tech out to service the chair it would either be a case of me telling him in advance I had a castor issue or he’d finish the service and find I needed them.

I ranted a lot about that each time it happened.  And each time Mum would listen to me rant and then say she wished there was some way of my knowing how many miles I did with the chair. Because if I knew that I wouldn’t be ranting about them not being fit for purpose. It was an ongoing debate.

When they came out with the new powerchairs for me to trial we were going through the order form and the question of whether I stuck with a standard (VR-2) control system or went with the more advanced (R-net) control system came up. There was some sort of bundle thing where if I paid for R-net I got another one or two of the upgrades I was thinking of included with it (it was motor and batteries I was looking at, I forget which I got included)

Then came the next question: the price of the R-net control was for an LED one.  For £80 ish extra I could have one with an LCD screen instead. What did I want?

I wasn’t feeling the need but I asked what that would give.

Well, it would have the date and time on it. I was a bit lukewarm on that and still not feeling the need.

It would also have a setting where you could see how many miles you’d done.

Yeah, I needed that in my life. Finally I’d be able to put that argument with Mum to bed.  We’ve been taking guesses as to how many miles I do in my chair in a year ever since.

I’ve heard a couple of stories from the tech about people who were like me and convinced they weren’t doing much and the castors and tyres were crap until they upgraded to R-net and realised just how much they were doing.

I’m beginning to suspect that in a year’s time he’ll be out with another customer and telling them about me “yeah, Emma, she said she didn’t do much turns out she does XX miles a year and no wonder she needs bits replacing often.”  Because with just three days of use I’ve put 9 miles on the chair. And I feel like I’ve really not done a lot. I definitely have days when I do a lot more.

I’m really intrigued to see just what the final number of miles on my tyres in a year turns out to be.

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