Since becoming disabled, and especially since starting this blog, many friends think I am the best person to ask about disability aids, and I think I am quite good on the subject. The problem I have is when they say “What is the best manual wheelchair, electric wheelchair, walking frame or walking stick to get my mum?”
So What is the Best Manual Wheelchair?
It is a very good question, but not one I can answer. Why not? Because I can tell you what the best wheelchair, walking frame or walking stick is for me, and I can help your mum find the best one for her, but no-one can really decide what the best wheelchairs, walking frame or walking stick is for someone else, only guide them. If they cannot manage to work through the decision with help, only someone who knows them very well can choose. This also causes problems with families as if they have a carer who works closely with them, as they are the person to help choose. A son or daughter who sees them once a week will know less than a carer who sees them every day. A younger son or daughter who is also a carer will know their parent better than the eldest, who visits weekly. Children often take it as an insult that I don’t think they know their parent good enough, or someone knows them better.
A good example of this is in the UK Social Services Wheelchair Services gives out wheelchairs. I used this service for a self-propelled wheelchair a couple of years ago. I thought “a free wheelchair, that is great”. I had bought my own before and I buy my own now. “Why?” You might ask when I can get them for free. Because, when the ideal wheelchair for me would have been something like a ‘Z Tec Deluxe Folding Self-Propelled Aluminium Wheelchair’, just a basic, self-propelled, fold-able wheelchair. The person who was dealing with me decided I needed a different one and I thought she knew better so I accepted a non-folding Quickie wheelchair that she recommended. This one is no good for me at all as it gives me back and shoulder pain if I sit in it for too long, and I sit in it all day, at my desk.
It’s not a bad Wheelchair, Just a bad Decision
I know for some people it is ideal. It is the lightest wheelchair I have had and is easy to propel myself around the house. It also lets me sit up properly rather than slouch, which I prefer. Unfortunately, I need it to be OK for others to push me too as I have not got a lot of strength in my arms and also tire very quickly. It is very difficult to dismantle and my husband cannot push it as he cannot see where the front wheels are, causing me to go down potholes and hit ridges. It is also very top-heavy, meaning anything he hits tips the wheelchair, and me, forward. It frightens my brother due to it being top-heavy, and even though I wear a seat belt to stop me being thrown out, he walks backwards down kerbs, ramps and any other downward slope. He says he is afraid the wheelchair will tip over with me in it. My parents cannot dismantle it and prefer a folding one. Only my daughter prefers it, due mainly to the weight, but also because she says I look comfier in it because I sit better in it.
Now I have had to buy another wheelchair as well. As you might have guessed I bought the Z Tec Deluxe folding self-propelled aluminium wheelchair and it is so much better – for me and my carers. My daughter is fine with it as she understands everyone needs to be able to use it, which with the Z Tec wheelchair they can.
I cannot understand how anyone can decide what I want, and need, in a wheelchair. I wonder if the lady from Wheel Chair Services will let me pick her next car for her because I am sure I know exactly what she wants! If you want what I chose, head over to eBay to buy yours.