Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wheel Wellness

Yesterday I sat and watched as the wheelchair repair guy, nice as I was, dissembled my wheelchair. Pieces lay, in organized piles, all over the floor. I'd been waiting for this, wanting this, but now that it was happening, I felt nothing but deep panic. I'd learned from the nursery rhyme that 'all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty together again' ... that some things, once apart can't ever be mended again.

The repair guy worked with calm, confidence. A confidence that I had a tough time feeling. I remembered when Erin, niece extraordinaire, lived with us, then near us, in Quebec. She would come over and work on our computer, adding memory and the like, I would get so stressed that I'd have to leave. That computer was the lifeline of our business and we depended on it for our livelihood and she'd get in and, with no compunction, DO THINGS TO IT. The stress, I thought then, was overwhelming.

Let me tell you, that was nothing compared to sitting and watching someone tip my manual chair back and begin to take off the front wheels. People who have these skills work with such quiet purpose. Eventually, things started to fit back together, calm transmitted from his movements to my breathing.

Finally, the chair was ready for me to try.

I had been sitting in a horrible, old, chair that we'd bought as a replacement chair. It didn't fit me. It didn't work for me, It was awful.  I hefted myself out of that chair and got, gingerly, not knowing if I could trust the 'fix' into my chair. I gave a push and sailed down the hallway of my office.

It was done.

A wheelchair user's relationship with their chair is unlike any other relationship we have, or so it seems to me. It spends so much time being 'part' of me, it frees me, it makes my life possible. My chair lost 'thing' status only days after I started using it. My chair has been all over the UK, all over the US and all over Canada - it's well travelled and it's served me well. I worry when I give it over to the airline, I am excited when I see it arrive back. It's part of me when I'm in it, it's waiting for me when I'm not.

I said to the fellow, "It must be nice having a job that makes such a big difference in people's lives." He was a little shy but he said, "It's a good way to spend the day."

I'm glad he spent part of his day fixing my chair.

It's better so I'm better. That may make sense only to others for whom wheels make the way possible.


Anonymous said...

Yup. Giving up the walker to the airline is always iffy - and occasionally they take forever to get it back. During which time the plane is emptying and I'm sitting in First Class feeling like an intruder.

Ah, the little things in life.

MomOf2 said...

I don't understand this as a wheelchair user, but every time my daughter is in the hospital, I refuse to allow them to "get her chair out of the way" I spend days and days in a very cramped space of bed, a small built in bench and my daughter's empty, unused wheelchair. It is "in the way" but cannot bear for it to be out of my sight.

Jo Kelly said...

I've always done my own repair and maintenance. I was dating a fellow once who walked into my living room as I had my chair in pieces and all he could say was "You KNOW they have people who you can pay to do this for you?"

LOL his shock was amusing.

MomOf2 you hang on to that chair because it WILL DISAPPEAR in a hospital. No matter what they say - I've had that argument with nurses before as well.

Andrea S. said...

Maybe for extra insurance (just in case you ever have to turn your back and the wheelchair chooses that moment to "vanish" on you)

Label the chair prominently with name and multiple forms of contact (phone numbers for home, office, and cell for both daughter and mother, email addresses for daughter and mother, etc.)

And label each and every single part that could ever, possibly, conceivably be separated from the rest of the chair or that even LOOKS like there could be a way to separate it.

I haven't had to deal with this issue (since I don't ride a wheelchair), but from the stories I hear I gather too many people seem insensitive to the importance of ensuring a wheelchair is close to its owner or (when it MUST be moved elsewhere) ensuring that it absolutely must and is kept track of so it will go back to the rider as quickly as possible ...

Andrea S.

Mary said...

It may be worth looking into security options for bicycles - police-run Portable Property databases, UV pens, security stickers, and as you work your way up the price range there's even things like tracking beacons that can be hidden in the frame.