Carbon fibre may be five times stronger than steel, but it’s no match for tics!
Last night my much-loved wheelchair suffered a shocking break. I was out at a pub for my friend Lottie’s birthday and chatting to some friends. My leg tics pushed against the footplate, as they do hundreds of times a day, lifting my body slightly out of the seat. But this time there was a massive snap! Everyone wondered what on earth it was, but for me there was no doubt about it – I knew instantly what had happened.
The crunching noise came from my carbon fibre footplate snapping in half. Poppy who was supporting me inspected the damage and removed the broken section. Initially I couldn’t bear to look at it, and concentrated instead on fighting back tears.
It’s a terrible shock when a wheelchair breaks suddenly like this. My chair feels like an extension of my body, and I’m familiar with how every bit of it feels. The frame of my previous chair snapped twice so I’m not unfamiliar with this sort of thing – in fact it was the frustration of the second snap that spurred me on to get my current chair.
After a moment I calmed down enough to look at the damage myself. The footplate had snapped cleanly all the way across. The movement that caused it wasn’t particularly strong so it could have happened at any time.
It’s not the end of the world. The chair’s still usable, I still have half a footplate to keep my legs out of trouble, and I’m sure it’ll be straightforward to fix.
But it’s the first time this chair has suffered such a calamity, and moments like this always remind me how important wheelchairs are to my independence.