My Word of the week this week is Wheels.
A lot of things have happened this week. I spent the weekend at a fabulous Retreat.
The Little Man has been having trouble at school and we have already had a meeting with the head and his teacher.
But, as you can see, I’ve already written about them. So I’ve chosen Wheels, because that’s what has dominated my thoughts since yesterday.
Naidex44 is an exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham which features all things disability. There are all sorts of disability aids to look at and many, many wheelchairs to try.
I had an idea in my mind of what sort of wheelchair I needed. My perfect chair would have electric controls but also large wheels for manual use. It would also have a handle at the back so I could get help from my partner/carer when I needed it. It would need to be comfortable and have good suspension, and be able to manage all sorts of terrains.
Sadly, no such wheelchair exists just yet but I did get some ideas on how I could get close to it. There were a lot of motorised accessories that you could fit to a regular wheelchair. Even motorised wheels so when you were tired of pushing yourself you only had to touch the wheels to make them go on their own. Ingenious, yes!
Putting together a system like this is really costly. The power packs come in at around £2000, then you would have to buy a manual wheelchair to fit them too. Manual chairs can be cheap but to get one that suited my needs I’d probably have to spend another £1000.
There was a couple of chairs that didn’t tick all the boxes I wanted but came close. Like the Fold-a-Lite and the i-Go but neither have the large wheels for manual use. (Although they can both be pushed by a carer if needed.) These retail at around £2000-£3000.
I fell in love with the Whill, not only did it look super cool it was the most comfortable wheelchair I have ever sat in. I tried it on the TGA Mobility test course and it was amazing. I found it incredibly easy to control and I loved the way it drove over all sorts of surfaces and small steps with ease. I didn’t feel any of the bumps, which is something that bothers me so much in wheelchairs.
The Whill doesn’t tick all my boxes because it doesn’t have a manual mode and it can’t be pushed. But suddenly those things didn’t matter when I felt the comfort and ease of control of this wheelchair. It almost doesn’t fit the word wheelchair or my conceptions of one.
The problem is the cost, at almost £4000 it’s probably one chair I will never be able to afford.
I hoped that by attending Naidex I would come away with my idea of the perfect wheelchair for me and set about raising the cash to get one. Now, I’m just as confused as I was before.
For now I will be sticking with my current chair. It works perfectly on flat surfaces and is great for manoeuvring, it’s fairly comfortable and has a decent battery life. But, if the battery runs out I’m stuck. It does not deal well with uneven surfaces or small obstacles/steps. It is not easy to control when on a hill, going up or down. Basically, it’s much better for use indoors than out and I’m fed up of not being able to be with my kids. I have lost count of the times I’ve had to wait behind because the terrain was not suitable for my chair.
Life on wheels is not easy sometimes.