Saying goodbye to my current wheelchair

Although I don’t remember exactly when I got my current wheelchair (which sometimes call Louise) I think it was some time while I was in Sixth Form, so between the ages of 16-18.

Although I try hard to use my walking frame Martha as much as possible, my wheelchair has still had rather a lot of use over the years. I use it if I know I’m going to be walking longer distances or out of the house for a long time. It’s also really handy when ill, tired or having one of those things that I personally like to call ‘a bad CP day’.

Lately, I started noticing that it was in need of a service for lots of different reasons. It had been a while since the last one, so I got in touch with Wheelchair Services and asked them to take a look.

They came out and did what they could on the day (tightening things up and so on) and then told me that they’d organise for me to get a new chair, which it has to be said, I’m strangely feeling quite excited about.

Usually when it comes to having to get a new walking frame I always feel quite sad about it. I never really want to stop using the one I have, and there’s usually lots of memories attached to it. The thing is that there are lots of memories attached to my current wheelchair too. I took it to university with me as well as my walking frame, I took it on my recent trip to London and I used it in a play that I did with my university drama society. Yet, I think that part of me is looking forward to the prospect of getting a new chair. I want to see what it will look like and I want to see how easily I will find it to push myself around in. I want to see how small it will fold up.

Looking forward to getting a new wheelchair is a new feeling to me, and one that’s taken me by surprise if I’m honest with you. I won’t be sad to see my old one go, I’m just curious to find out what my next one will be like. That’s okay, right?

I still plan on using my walking frame as much as possible though. I love walking around and knowing that I do it as much as I can, but maybe a change of wheelchair won’t be such a bad thing?

 

The Surgery Diaries: Getting more walking frames

So there’s just under a week left of August which means that my posts reflecting on my surgery six years ago in this month are almost over. Thanks for sticking with me so far. Today I’m going to fast forward to when I had the second operation. If you’ve missed anything so far and want to catch up, feel free to do that by clicking here.

Eventually I managed to build up my walking stamina enough to be able to do it around the house again. The problem was that the Kaye Walker frame I was using at the time was too big to fit around our house, so I was given some smaller ones. One that went in front me but didn’t have wheels so I had to pick it up to walk with, and one that did have them so I could roll. We tried crutches too, but the physio and I decided very quickly that they weren’t the right kind of walking aid for me. I felt like I was going to fall over the second I got hold of them, and apparently it showed because the colour drained from my face.

I was back in my own bedroom too by this point and was no longer sleeping in the dining room on the ground floor. Mum made dad redecorate it for me as a special treat and it was nice to be back in my own space again, if not a little strange. Being able to use the bathroom unaided was also something I will never, ever take for granted again.

One little frame stayed upstairs and we kept the other one downstairs. I was surprise how well I managed with a frame that went in front of me rather than one I pulled behind me. There were a couple of mishaps, including one where I almost lost a front tooth. Thankfully it only came slightly out of place and was fixed when Mum accidently bumped my wheelchair down the kurb a bit too hard in her rush to get me to the dentist. My jaws rattled together and somehow this managed to knock it back into the right position it had always been in. Talk about lucky. I just had to eat soft foods for a week while it healed and it was good as new. Phew!

I was starting to finally feel a little bit better about how things were starting to happen. I could see progress every day, even if it was quite small some of the time, but it was starting to happen. I could see a time when I could walk unaided again, and I’ll tell you more about that in my next post!

The Betsy Chronicles

Betsy and I at my graduation
Betsy and I at my graduation

Before my blue Nimbo Frame Martha came into my life, there was Betsy. She was my silver Kaye Walker. I promised you all that I’d tell you all her story one day and now that day has finally arrived.  If you’re a bit confused and want to find out why I choose to name my walking aids, you can check out this post here. If you want to just hear more about my old one Betsy then grab some snacks, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you.

As I’ve said before, she was given to me the day before Christmas Eve in 2011 and went into retirement last month. Usually these frames last longer than that but she was given to me second hand. I didn’t mind. I got a new frame when I needed it and that was all that mattered to me. I was in my final year at university by this point was making an effort to do as much walking as possible so I made sure we had some good times before we had to go our separate ways.

I like to think of Betsy as my frame of firsts. She came with me on lots of work experience placements, was there on the first day of work at my last job and came with me when I got the bus by myself for the first time. This last one didn’t go so well. It’s safe to say that catching the bus alone is not my strong point, but that’s a story for another time.

Oh, and she will always have a special place in my heart for being the frame that I used to get across the stage at my university graduation, which for me was the most symbolical moment  of my life so far.  It was the moment that me, my family and endless physios and doctors had been working towards all my life to date. People said I wouldn’t, people said I couldn’t and others thought I was just too lazy and would rely on my folks to do it all for me forever, so I upped-sticks, moved away  and went on an adventure to prove them all wrong. In that moment, I knew I’d made it. We all made it, and Betsy was there every step (or should that be roll) of the way. For that, I will love her forever.

My new Nimbo Frame Martha
My new Nimbo Frame Martha

There are a few ways that the Kaye Walker differed from my new frame Martha, aside from the fact that she was silver and not blue. My Kaye Walker didn’t have a seat on the back. This meant that I couldn’t always sit down as much as I would have liked, but it also made the frame a lot lighter than my current one. It meant that my arms didn’t get as tired when I was using it (guess this means I should probably work out more, huh?) and that it was easier to lift it up and down kurbs, and for me to deal with every time I got the front wheel stuck in a pot hole (this happened more times that I would care to admit).

It also means that the frame is less compact and takes uo more room in the car  but it was all still worth it in my eyes. Like I’ve said before I can now take rest breaks as and when I need them, sit down if I need to take notes when carrying out interview and I’m guaranteed to have somewhere to sit. To me it’s totally worth it even if it does mean I have to grow some muscle and buy less shopping on my trips out. In the end it’s probably better for my body and (my bank balance) anyway.

The story of a girl and her wheelchair

Do you remember how I said in my first post that some days were better than others and that I sometimes need to use a wheelchair? I think if I had left the house yesterday I would have taken that with me and given Martha a day off. I knew before I even got out of bed in the morning that it was going to be one of my more awkward days when the Cerebral Palsy likes to remind me that I’m not Super Woman, but still, it wasn’t the worst.

Getting up on a Monday is always tough for anyone, but the first thing I noticed yesterday when I made the leap of faith out from under the duvet other than my usual urge to answer a call of nature was the knot of pain behind my left knee. I could tell as soon as I started walking on it that this knot was settling itself in for day so I popped the heating on (I seize up when cold) and took myself back to bed (any old excuse will do). I hoped that warming myself back up would make it go away. I was wrong. My back then decided to join in with the protest and starting aching like it usually does when I spend too long lying down and demanded that I move around. My leg, and by this point, my hip objected to this greatly. In the end I decided to give up, get up and heat myself up and wheat bag while the lot of them battled it out to see which one of them could irritate me most. I’m still not sure who won.

Although I’ve had my walking frame for as long as I can remember, I didn’t get my first wheelchair until I was 11. I refused up until that point. I can remember being in nursery school and vowing that I would never let myself have one. I even used to try sneak out into the playground without my walking frame sometimes. I never managed it obviously but excitement I got from knowing that I could try and be outside without it made the thought of a telling off afterwards worthwhile.  Yes, I am the first to admit I was a very mischievous little madam with no sense of danger back then. If I had managed it, in truth I would have probably burst into tears when the teacher and caught me, but I still like to think it would have been worth it.  I used to get up to these kinds of antics at home too when I’d launch missions to get upstairs without anyone noticing. We didn’t have handrails then so I wasn’t allowed. I’d usually only make it halfway up before I got stopped but one time I made it all the way to the top and managed to get into my Mum and Dad’s room. I was delighted and started started to look for a place to hide and surprise them later, only to be scooped up and carried back to the living room by Mum much to my disappointment.

Despite all my protests I knew deep down that when I started high school it probably wouldn’t be acceptable to take my major buggy with me anymore.

I was surprised to find that I didn’t regret my choice as much as I thought I would at the time. The chair (otherwise known as Louise) and I have had some fun times too. I still get the giggles when I think about the time one of her wheels came off while my boyfriend was pushing me down a hill (It’s okay – I wasn’t hurt so you can laugh if you want) and I decorate her in tinsel at Christmas time. It took me a long time for me to realise that getting her wasn’t a sign of deterioration like I thought it was, but a practical decision and I am proud that I managed to stop being stubborn long enough to see that.