Monday, 1 September 2014

Wheelchairs Don't Bounce

My "new" chair.
Well, I did only go overseas for two weeks. It's a while since I got back.

I needed a bit of recovery time, and then there were some family and health crises (not all the health crises were mine for once.)

So, as an intrepid lupie world traveler, I've had quite an adventure, and I don't know where to begin telling you the stories of what happened.

I guess I'll start with the discovery that wheelchairs don't bounce.

You wonder why I tried to find that out?  Well, actually it wasn't me who did the experiment. But I did provide a brand new wheelchair for it.

I'd bought a wheelchair with the trip in mind. The theory was that if I was pushed around in a chair instead of walking (limping) I would have the energy to do more. This actually worked out quite well, despite the hiccup.

My family pushed me through Brisbane International Airport in my own chair.  At the door of the plane, my chair was taken away.  In the stop-over airports I was transported by airport staff in the airport's own wheelchairs to my connecting flights. (This, in itself, is a great reason to take a wheelchair on a flight. It meant my family had a guide to show us where we were going getting from one gate to another.)

At Manchester, the final stop, the airport wheelchair was awful. The airport staff didn't push this one, but gave it to my son to take me, saying that it would be a while before someone was available and we'd be faster on our own.  The wheels of the chair seemed to have come from the same factory that produces those shopping trolley wheels that go in four different directions at the same time.

My son struggled and I got frustrated, and we were both incredibly glad to pick up my chair from the baggage collection point.

My chair was so good in comparison to the airport one that we didn't even notice that it wasn't behaving as well as normal.

We passed a sign that said, "Check your luggage, no complaints accepted after this point." We'd been travelling for 24 hours straight. We had all our bags. Nothing was obviously wrong. We left the airport.

The next day, the family went for a walk through the streets of Frodsham to the local park.

Family members took turns pushing my chair, and complaining about the rough footpaths, especially the sections that were cobblestones. (Cobblestones may be very pretty, but they're not good for wheelchairs.)

It got worse a it went on, and then we discovered that one of the front wheels wasn't straight. It was bent under part way.  We were all muttering about just how horrible British footpaths were.

Eventually the front wheel collapsed all the way, and I had to walk back to my sister's house.

My sister asked around and found that a place called Motability would be able to fix my chair. We went in to the place suggested, and handed my wheelchair over to be examined.

While waiting we watched a video about the business - which employed people with disabilities to restore and repair mobility equipment for other people with disabilities.

The diagnosis for the chair: it wasn't damaged by the street. It had received a hard knock, probably from being dropped from a height.  The repair people strongly suggested airline baggage handlers had something to do with it. The frame was so badly damaged, it couldn't be repaired.

I bought a red reconditioned chair from them for 50 pounds, which meant we were free to continue the holiday.

And having a chair for trips to all the amazing places we went really was worth it.

So, dear lupies, if you're planning an overseas holiday, taking a wheelchair is a great idea. Just don't buy an expensive new chair to take with you. Get the cheapest one you can buy, second-hand is fine.

1 comment:

  1. My dad travelled very often and was used to check systematically closely his luggage before leaving the airport. He discovered that what was the most often damaged was the wheels... You're right, get a cheap robust chair for travelling. Claire

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