This afternoon Leftwing Idiot and I went and picked up my new wheels. I’d had a call from the wheelchair clinic a couple of days ago to say my new chair was ready and that I should come for a final fitting.
The appointment was with Maria, who’d carried out my original assessment, and William, a charismatic wheelchair technician. He was brilliant – he’d customised the chair so that it meets my needs perfectly. He talked us through the chair’s features with a sales patter worthy of the best car showrooms. But because we have an NHS, this form of transport is mine free of charge.
William showed us all the extras he’d added for me, including a tall backrest, padded arms, and a four point seatbelt. The quick-release wheels were a particularly impressive surprise.
After William had taken the chair to pieces bit by bit, he turned to Leftwing Idiot and said, “Now you put it back together!” Leftwing Idiot managed to do it, with William offering pointers and encouragement.
All my previous worries that this would be a sad and upsetting occasion proved unfounded and it was exciting to sit in my new wheelchair for the first time. Thanks to Maria and William’s kindness, energy and care, taking charge of it was an extremely positive experience. It’ll give me greater freedom to make longer journeys and reduce the risk of injury both to me, and those who care for me.
Leftwing Idiot and I got the bus home, something we haven’t been able to do at all easily for ages. With me securely in the chair everything felt much safer.
“Disability Advice Christmas tree.”
Photograph: Matthew Pountney