A new set of wheels, part two

As I wrote in July I had ordered (now have) a new powerchair. Finding and choosing a new one has been tricky. But almost the hardest part has been biting the bullet and letting go of my Jive.

I got my first powerchair in 2004. It was an Enigma Energi. Basic, but rock solid. I’d been anti getting a powerchair but was in a situation where it was obvious I needed it. I had it nearly three years and the only thing I remember breaking was the charger.

It was a workhorse but as I used the chair more than expected, it’s poor suspension wasn’t comfortable and it just got to the point it worked but not for me. Replacing it was a no brainer.

In 2007 I got a Pride Jazzy 1121. It was technically second hand but we think it was probably used by it’s previous owner around five times. It looked brand new. That was a great chair for me, it had tilt in space which I don’t know if I’d have chosen for myself but now won’t be without. Interestingly, looking back the big issues I was having with spasticity at that time were at least partially caused by the fact it had a centre-mount footboard rather than swing away footplates.

But for the last year I had it it broke down several times. I got stranded in a lot of different places in a two or three week period due to an intermittent electrical fault. And then several months later I got stranded again due to another fault. There was no doubt it was time to start looking for a new chair.

Feb 2012 I got a Quickie Salsa M. It seemed like a brilliant chair at the time. A fair few problems and some niggles that affected the functionality. But I got to do things I loved in it, boring day to day stuff and some once in a lifetime events.

Then in 2016 the footplate broke. The techs came and took it to the workshop. They discovered it also had a broken chassis (the second in just over 4 years) and insurance wrote it off. I was told I could pay thousands of pounds to fix it but would be unable to insure it. Or they could fix the footplate and I could it back and keep using it until the chassis went completely. They warned me that when that happened I’d be immediately stranded, no getting it home. Again, replacing it was a no brainer.

The Quickie Jive M Hybrid was the replacement. Again, a few niggles but overall a really good chair for me. I did things I loved in it, things I hadn’t done before (either at all or not since I got a powerchair). I did a lot of the ongoing slog of daily life admin in it. It worked for me.

The big problem was that it was clearly getting worn out and the powerchair techs were suggesting it needed to be replaced. And how rattly it was beginning to unnerve me and affect my confidence. I also knew that the cost of ongoing repairs was mounting up and if I did the yearly service which was nearly due they’d just tell me to get a new one. But it was still working and saying “I want to move on” was tricky.

However as I said to the supplier the day I ordered it, I was aware that it could break anytime and I’d decided not to spend more . It could have been the next day on the way to breakfast to celebrate my brother’s birthday, it could be in six months time. So I just had to bite the bullet and order a new one.

I got my new Sango Advanced powerchair just over three weeks later. It’s been a bit of a process getting it set up and I miss my Jive. Changing wheelchairs is always hard because you don’t know if it feels wrong because it is wrong or because it’s just different to what you’re used to. And of course muscle memory plays havoc because my hand just reaches for the on button and jt’s not there anymore.

But I’ve had it nearly four weeks now, I’m getting some confidence in it and I think it will work out well. I will write more about it soon.

A Blog for Vidya

A couple of weeks ago I went to a nearby village and met up with some of my fellow Citizens Advice volunteers. We spent an hour or so sitting under a tree as the day drew to an end chatting.

There were seven of us, including someone I hadn’t met. It was nice to see them and to meet a new volunteer who joined virtually during the last year. It was very nice to catch up properly. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed that until them. I’d spoken to several of them by video/chat/phone since we were last in the office but not all, and obviously that’s not the same as in person.

I have been going into the office for a couple of hours once a fortnight but it’s very different. No clients and only one other person in at the same time as me. I like it but I did enjoy the bigger group.

One of the people there, Vidya, mentioned reading my blog and asked about one of the posts. She also asked if I mind people reading but not commenting?

And actually that’s really common. Off the top of my head, I can name at least five or six people who have told me before that they read my blog and comment on it to me in person. But who don’t ever comment online.

I know a couple of them were people I know through their jobs who told me they didn’t know if they were allowed to comment. And I think several people only read it occasionally, say if I send them an email and they see the link in the signature. Or post it on FB.

And I do have to hold my own hands up and admit I’ve got really bad at commenting myself in recent years. I’m trying to comment more.

But that conversation did make me think, and wonder about who is out there reading my blog? So this is a blog for Vidya, and all my other lurkers reading this. Come say hi in the comments, it makes me smile when someone does.