Yesterday afternoon my colleague Sylvie, who manages the adventure playground where I work, asked me if I could cover for her briefly while she helped a child. I’m always happy to do this but yesterday I was raring to go. The reason? The arrival of my new Trekinetic wheelchair.
During the half-hour or so that I covered for Sylvie I moved around the playground with a freedom I haven’t experienced in at least three years. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to go just about anywhere I wanted. One of the biggest differences between using my new chair, compared with all the previous ones, is that I don’t have to think so hard when I’m using it. With it, I can take the most direct route, going over lumps, bumps and dips without worrying about them. There’s no more edging tentatively along, constantly scanning the ground to see where it’s possible for me to go. I feel safe, and I am.
The cost of the new chair was largely covered by Access to Work, a Government scheme that funds support and equipment for disabled people at work. It was instantly clear that this piece of equipment would radically improve my working life. It’s hard to explain exactly how amazing it is without sounding over-emotional. But it really is ace!
I wasn’t the only one impressed with the chair though. I got loads of compliments on my new wheels from the kids. Moments after I came out of the office with it a boy I know well called out to me as he cycled past, ‘Your new wheelchair’s ‘sick’!’ This is praise indeed.
After work yesterday Fat Sister and I went out for a meal at a restaurant about twenty minutes walk from the castle. We got there side by side, something we haven’t done for years. Much of the journey was uphill and I was astonished that I was able to push myself the whole way. The way back was a joy too, and I felt so happy as I coasted down the hill chatting to my sister next to me.
One of the biggest things I’ve missed since the arrival of the tics that affect my legs is going for walks. I knew the Trekinetic would make a big difference to where I was able to go, but even so I was surprised by how easily and for how long I could propel myself. For the first time in years, exploring outdoors is not only possible – it feels enjoyable too.
Back in June I wrote about sinking into gloom each morning when I realised I was going to have to spend another day using the ‘clunkmobile’ – a replacement chair I’d been lent after my regular one broke. This morning I woke up feeling happy and excited, really looking forward to getting out and about in my new chair. It’s the most expensive thing I own after the castle but what it offers is extremely precious – a more active, more independent and much muddier life.
Enough of writing about it, I’m off for a spin.