At the end of last week I mentioned the back pain I’ve been experiencing on and off recently. My physio had encouraged me to stuff towels between the back of my wheelchair and my body to help push my back into a better position. This seems to have helped a bit.
Today my wheelchair got a much-needed service. The brake I’d smashed in a run-in with a handrail last year was replaced, and my worn-out tyres were changed. The wheelchair mechanic also brought several new backrest options for me to try.
I’ve always had chairs with tension-adjustable backs. This means that the back cushion folds over fabric straps which are pulled taut, meaning that you can really easily adjust how rigid you want the back to be. The problem with this for me though, is that my body is very wiggly and the back of my chair has to withstand a lot of movement.
Last May the clips that held my backrest tight snapped and I did an emergency fix with drinking straws before replacing them with metal carabiners.
But this still wasn’t strong enough, so I thought it would be good to look at some more rigid backrests. When the mechanic checked the carabiners today we were clearly just in the nick of time – they were all bent out of shape and on the brink of breaking.
As soon as I tried the rigid backrest I knew it was going to work much better for me. Not only was it more sturdy, it helped me sit straighter too.
Like most things to do with wheelchairs these backrests are very expensive. Fortunately the mechanic was happy to do a deal on one of the demo backs, which meant it could be fitted straightaway.
A few hours later I was on stage again in my newly serviced chair performing Backstage In Biscuit Land at the Rep.
And my tics couldn’t help but brag about my new backrest:
“Backrest you’re so buff!”