Going Mobile, Part 2: I’m Powering Around the House
Ah, the sequel.
Back in April, I wrote about getting an electric wheelchair and then spending hours working out how to get it going.
Six months later, I may have cracked the challenge of driving it without putting cracks in my house.
When a district nurse visited last week, she said that she could always tell when there was a power wheelchair user in the house by the gouges in the bottom of the door frames.
However careful I am, and even when I stay in low gear, grazes occur. After all, I’ve replaced my legs with what is effectively a mini-tank!
Besides the struggle of getting your nonworking legs onto the footrests, the latter tend to switch to destroy mode at the slightest miscalculation. So far, I’ve not been a drunk driver. But late at night, when I’ve self-medicated in the California fashion, my judgment goes. Though I might want to go slower, there’s no gear for that.
It’s all too fast.
My architraves have taken a right battering!
Still, experience counts.
For the first few months, when working at my desk — handily situated a few feet from my bed — I’d fold the footrests back and scoot around.
However, the footrests would get stuck in the wheels and prevent me from moving sideways. I found a solution to that problem — bang it into top gear and effectively do a power brake turn! Highly enjoyable, but undoubtedly bad for my newly laid wooden floor — and my new wheelchair.
Then one day I pulled too hard on the footrest, and it just popped out. When this happens on a self-propelled chair, it takes forever to put back. Even able-bodied people find it tricky, as reattaching the footrest involves getting it to fit into two holes simultaneously.
I wasn’t looking forward to fixing it. I knew that I’d get it done eventually, but realized that it might take a while. However, much to my surprise, the task was effortless as it pops in as easily as it pops out. I thought, “Why can’t ordinary wheelchairs have this fitting? If you’re in a wheelchair, life is a struggle, why make us struggle more?”
Now, there’s a thought. I took off both footrests, so no more power brake turns, which is a pity. But there’s something else. My wheelchair’s seat and backrest can tilt upward independently. It works sort of like a Segway, the personal transport system you stand on that only older people like me remember.
My feet are off the ground, and I can now get through doors even if I have to take a tight corner to do it.
The architraves have suffered no more damage.
Except on the occasions when I’ve partaken of too much of the old California Dreaming …
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