Four X Wheelchair
Another year has flashed by, (it will be NEXT Christmas soon!), and I’m in contemplative mood, or am I justifying my existence? Either way I’m sitting in my all terrain four X wheelchair on my well worn soapbox rambling on about how I have come to be in this happy place. Happy, I never thought I would use that word about myself, but I have been transformed, a robot in disguise, forgive my homage to the kids cartoon.
There are many ingredients to my new found lust for life; my Four X All Terrain Wheelchair, new MS medication, a car that I can drive, my flat being made wheelchair accessible (very soon), access to work, and my Four X All Terrain Wheelchair. So good I named it twice.
I have had MS for a tediously long time, during which I have died a little bit at a time, so I have always have had to adapt. ‘Adapt’ was a necessary life mantra, I guess it was adapt or nihilism. I’ve played nihilism before it’s just no fun, well there’s no fun in MS.
By the time I had felt that it was all over, it had been all over a hundred fold, that’s hard to reconcile, even if one on has weaponised one’s delusionary hope.
Fortunately with my last throws of the dice I had applied to Access to Work. I needed desperately to be able to get out of the house and get to work properly, rather than being a sack of potatoes. At this stage having a life was not even in the equation, my nihilism had been on gas mark 7 for an eternity and was ready to be served with all the trimmings.
Everything started with the Four X, it was my only means of transport, well it was my everything. The ability to get to work, (yea, sad I know, GET TO WORK – more like get a life), yes back to work. Continuing to design, build and maintain gardens had been the only thing keeping me hanging on admittedly by the fingertips. The choice in chair had been solely to indulge me in this. I trained myself to use the chair wth my left hand, solely so I could keep working efficiently, from pruning to using a nail gun, while being able to easily adjust my position. It was a bugger training myself to control the chair left handed, but it has been so worth the blue language. The long term nett benefits far outweigh the initial difficulty. I can even open doors easily, imagine that!
I see so many people more trapped in their wheelchairs than they need to be, not just by having a rubbish wheelchair instead of a life, just by the way in which they control their chairs
I attend a number of mobility exhibitions and usually stay at Premier Inns. One evening I was walking down the corridor to my room, as I turned the corner I encountered another wheelchair user coming at me with his wife in tow. My first thought was ‘High Noon’, after this little head trip I reversed back down the corridor, just past the 90 degree turn to the exist. With my Pistols safely holstered and wearing a smile I watched the two trundle down towards me. The two had a dead eye look, instinctively I stroked the handles and rested my thumb on the hammer. Looking through squinted eyes, (a piece of fluff), the two came to the exit point. The chair did not slow down, I screamed ‘slow down’, in my head. Nothing. Slow Down. Nothing. The chair kept coming. Then something quite unexpected happened. In fact I sat there with my mouth wide open. The chair came past the point of no return then stopped dead, a road block?. The chairs’ wife leaned over him, dead eyes staring, my thumb now caressing the hammer. The wife was trying to reach over and open the door, she silently communcated with the chair to ease forward for a better reach. With the wife now leaning over the chair at full stretch on one leg the chair reversed back, swivelled played bumper cars and made it through the door. The wife followed.
My point? During this well rehearsed routine the two never spoke. The chair never made an attempt to open the door. It was decided long ago that this was beyond the chairs capabilities. The wife had to be present for the chair to exist. I began to understand the dead eye look. My point? Exist for yourself. Adapt. Live. Lust. Achieve. Enjoy, Be happy? Try.
I have experienced a cascade effect in my life. To tell you the truth it has crept up on me not just with my infinitely increased mobility but in the way in with which I engage with people, and now my attitude to life. I am a captive set free. Which I find wonderful, or more correctly I have finally accepted that it is wonderful.
The Four X wheelchair was my life line, and was my only form of transport for a year. I was a whippet coursing. I used it as a car in all weathers and would make an 11 mile round trip journey once a week for a breakfast networking meeting. This I did in all weathers, the worst and probably my favourite was at the beginning of this year in the very heavy snow, when everything ground to a halt. For a bit of snow! OK a lot of snow. My all terrain wheelchair was the safest thing on the roads or pavements. Cars were abandoned ( as I passed them with a secret smile) and walkers were hospitalised with broken bones, the Four X wheelchair just went on with ease. The only difficulty was that the snow fell so heavily that it kept settling on my glasses on my return trip and I was snow blind for long periods. As you can imagine the trip was more difficult as I could hardly see obstacles, and ran over stumps and dropped off curbs at full pelt. Luckily the chair is very forgiving even with an idiot user in control.
During this year I became more sociable by accident. As I walked down the road I would encounter people, (imagine that real people), they would obviously stare from a mile away, my chair was a visual magnet, they kept staring. By the time that we were 6 foot away and, because we are british and very polite you know, the only thing left for the walkers to do was to say hello, and sometimes even break into a smile! Imagine saying hello to a total stranger, and sometimes having conversations. Walkers don’t do this on the high street, tubes or buses. Strange really, but I used play in this game.
By being able to go anywhere in my all terrain chair, people talk to me, this has become a habit now. It’s scratched into my being, odd, a very simple thing casual human interaction, people want to talk and smile.
I have a theory. I am engineering society by walking down the road in my chair, generating human interaction and making my immediate world a better happier place. If lots of wheelchair users flooded the outside world everyone would be saying hello and conversing with each other. There will have to be a critical mass of chairs acting as visual magnets to change the world. Well thats grumpy people sorted.
I have included a video of myself walking to my local pub in the snow. There is something wonderful about going and playing about in snow. I look forward to the next snow fall.
I have droned on enough for now, Have a great new year.