From legs to wheels

I sat on the settee and glanced over at the wheelchair that was in the hall, I hadn’t actually used it yet and struggled on using crutches.
I had been using crutches on and off for about ten years, but it was becoming more and more difficult for me to get about because of increasing pain levels. It was on a visit to a large diy store that I finally realised that I no longer had the choice, we had been there about fifteen minutes when I couldn’t continue, my daughter went back to the entrance and grabbed one of the stores wheelchairs. I wasn’t happy, I felt like everyone was staring at me and I felt uncomfortable because of that.

The wheelchair I had at home was a Quickie, it wasn’t mine it was an old wheelchair that belonged to a friend who is a wheelchair user, he had leant it to me as my health deteriorated and he was the reason that when I finally did admit defeat and use the chair, it wasn’t as hard as it might have been.
I first met him when I started a new job, he was paralysed after a motorcycle accident but he still lived an active life, he has been scuba diving and hand cycled a large distance in America and he has completed the London marathon several times in his everyday chair. I saw through him that being in a wheelchair isn’t the end, in fact the challenges it presents can be easily overcome with the right frame of mind.

I started to play wheelchair basketball once a week and it wasn’t long before I could push several miles in the chair, my GP referred me to our local wheelchair service and because I was already using a lightweight active user chair I was measured up for my own one. Eight weeks later I had an RGK chair of my own and not only is it a good looking chair, it made a huge difference and I was finally confident in a wheelchair. I had a knee replacement shortly after and from there my pain levels went up, as I have said in another post, I have CRPS and because of high pain levels and the fact the replacement knee restricts the bend it meant I couldn’t use a basketball wheelchair anymore and so that was the end of that.

Being in a wheelchair has meant that I have had to adapt, in fact the whole family has had to adapt! Obviously certain places are out of reach and also it’s not helped by the fact that I have suffered panic attacks for over twenty years after an incident when I was a firefighter, I hate lifts, actually I don’t hate lifts themselves but any enclosed space and so I’m also restricted to the ground floor and that makes life extra difficult. I have previously risked using an escalator, its something that can be done in a wheelchair but it’s quite dangerous but now many shopping centres have put a post in front of the escalator to stop people taking children’s buggies on them. I have also like many people gotten out of the chair and bummed up and down stairs, its not ideal but like I said, you have to adapt. 

I’m still a relative novice in a wheelchair, I still despise it at times and other times I love it.
I appreciate how fortunate I am that my local wheelchair service is so good, many others are stuck in heavy standard chairs that restrict them and they stand little chance of getting a custom chair. Wheelchair services in many areas fall short on service and this is once again down to enforced budget cuts.

If I could turn back the clocks, I would have made the transition to a wheelchair sooner, firstly my shoulders and hands would not be so damaged and secondly I wouldn’t have had to endure lengthy outings on crutches, but I can’t and like many others I deal with what I have, sometimes not very well though.

Until next time!

One thought on “From legs to wheels”

  1. Your post resonates with how I am about my wheelchair. I too had a friend give me his old chair because he knew (from his own experience) that life on crutches wrecks shoulders. I wouldn’t use it if I could help it, because like you I felt awkward as if people were staring at me. From that I moved onto getting one from wheelchair services measured for me, now it’s not a sporty type one or extremely lightweight but I like it, I can’t self propel for long so still rely on others to assist, however I will use it – even been to London and the south coast of England using it. It has certainly opened up more opportunities than closed them.

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