My Disabled Wheelchair

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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Things had been going well with my electric wheelchair, but now I found myself out of control, heading toward the TV. I put my one good foot down in a feeble attempt to delay what seemed inevitable. Somehow, the foot — or perhaps sheer good luck — saved the TV. I stopped a foot away!

The left armrest of my newish ‘leccy wheelchair had just fallen off, taking the chair controls with it. I was a passenger on a runaway wheelchair! This was excitement I could do without, especially as it was late and a scream would wake the house.

I was only a yard away from my bed, but it might as well have been a mile. There was no way I’d make it. My phone and sticks were also inconveniently out of reach.

As this situation could have been a lot worse, I took a moment to calm myself.

Disabled wheelchair (Photo by John Connor)

Luckily, my trusty wheeled commode looked reachable. Before I’d gone electric, I’d actually used this as my main means of locomotion around the house for a year. I was no longer much good with a self-propelling wheelchair, but by using a stick like an oar and pushing with my left foot, I could actually get somewhere. True, I was better at going backward. Since MS has turned my life around, this seemed somehow apposite.

I managed to transfer without crashing to the floor, so that was a win.

Luckily, the wheelchair is from the NHS and there’s a service company I can call. (I’ve actually written disparagingly about this company in the past.) I sent them a late-night email and followed up with an early-morning call.

Much to my pleasant astonishment, a technician turned up about an hour after my morning call and tightened the nuts that secured both armrests to the base of the wheelchair — they had worked themselves loose. Up to now, I’d actually presumed the exaggerated in-and-out movements were just a nifty design feature. Sure, I could have read the manual in detail, but who actually does that?

The armrests are supposed to be solidly fixed. The tech said he’d seen the same thing in about five new wheelchairs of the model I use, an Invacare Bora/Spectra XTR Series.

It only took him five minutes to fix.

Crisis over? Not quite.

Within a few days, the armrests loosened again. They’re not yet as bad as they were before, but I immediately booked the technician. Since it’s not urgent this time, he’s coming around tomorrow. He did nothing wrong. He’d tightened as fast as he could without breaking the nuts.

It must be a manufacturing flaw.

Somewhat ironically, I seem to have a disabled wheelchair!


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Anthony H avatar

Anthony H

Hi John - I've heard that comedy is actually tragedy seen from a safe place. Thanks for making us laugh! It sounds like you need some of that stuff motorcycle riders put on their nuts to stop them falling off (off of their bikes, that is).

Peggy avatar


John love your posts! Just after reading this i had an incident with my power wheelchair! Not as explanatory as yours. Had incident of hand slipping off arm of chair when transferring from toilet and somehow my hand slipped in between back of chair frame and stuck while the other half fell against the joystick causing it to drag me around in a circle. THANK GOD my husband heard me scream and managed to stop it! Also that I didn't break my arm or ribs that ate voth very brusied and sore as h*ll! ?


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