Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Wheelchair shopping #2

Yesterday I went to GBL wheelchairs again. I'd done more research since my last visit, decided to try giving my old Kuschal Compact a full refirb, new tyres etc and see if that turns out OK for 'really bad arms, foot propelling needed' days. In which case I could get a standard rigid lightweight chair, or I could go for the Xenon (folding rigid) or Panthera S2 (rigid, flip up footplates - heaven for foot propelling).

So off I went.

All fine till I'm nearly there. When the traffic stops. 10 mins and I travel about 100m.

I called GBL "I'm gonna be late - I've hit a traffic jam, but I'm less than 2 miles away"

Edging closer, it feels like an age later that I get to some traffic lights. I want to go straight on. I think GBL is just up this road. I think it is. but I don't know for certain. But it's blocked by a police car.

The police chap says OK, drive down the blocked road. I was wrong. I'm further back that I thought - and there is a gut-wrenching mess of road accident detritus all over the road, which I can't drive past. So I park up and wheel up to to the parade of shops. GBL is just past a parade of shops. It was a different parade of shops. I'm still not close.

I return to my car having wheeled about a kilometre. Drive back to re-join the inching-along traffic queue.

Eventually I get there. It has taken well over an hour to cover the final 2 miles. Not only had I missed the start of my appointment, it was well past the end of my appointment.

How do GBLwheelchairs react?

I arrived to a smiling, helpful receptionist, who welcomed me and wanted to know if I was OK.

I'd been sat up for a bit too long. The only way to achieve even semi coherence was to lie on the floor and try to get my POTS back under control. Which nobody minded at all. I kinda expected that I would need to go home again without the having appointment - arriving well after 4 for a 3pm appt isn't practical! But no. Mr Wheelie Seller (Ian) was fine with staying on a bit longer. He even let me lie and rest quietly for a few minutes while I recovered a little and he lined up the chairs I wanted to test. There was an engineer still there, and he was quite happy to change his plans and service my Compact anyway. And the receptionist was lovely - not cross with my extreme lateness, and helpfully went and fetched the Compact from my car.

Very helpful, matter of fact, and I think Mr Wheelie-Seller may possibly have ended up late for basketball cos he was putting up with me and my wheelchair dilemmas. Sorry Ian!

But I recovered enough brain to get on with the matter in hand: NEW WHEELS!! I tried the Xenon and Panthera (which I shall shortly review on but I chose the Helium. I decided the refirbed Compact will be good enough for footpropelling days, so I could go for a lightweight rigid which my arms prefer. And the Helium fit the bill.

All in all, an exhausting day, but worth it. I am one step closer to getting my new wheels.

Thank you, GBL wheelchairs people, for being so extremely accomodating!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

A Paralympics to be proud of

I loved the paralympics. (I saw almost none of the last few days due to other commitments, and couldn't do stickmen on a few other days, so forgive the lack of 'Weirwolf' cartoons, and all the other memorable moments not depicted)

I loved the talent, athleticism, speed and brilliance.

The suspense, the 'edge-of-the-seat' terror, the willing them on, the yelling at the TV screen.

 The unabashed joy, the all-consuming pride at medals won,

The incoherent enthusiasm about incredible performances

Days full of awe, joy, heartache, skill and pride topped off by Adam Hill's 'Last Leg' - a realistic,  down-to-earth, honest and highly amusing show where talking about disability was no longer taboo.

How can we not be changed? I am. More open to ability, enthusiastic about sport, hooked on wheelchair basketball and rugby, and considering trying a 10k 'run' (wheel).

Perhaps some people will now expect too much of me, but that doesn't matter - I can communicate and explain if I need to.

I have already noticed a change in the looks I get - still stares, but interested not pitying. Not looking down, but looking across.