Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Chair!

No, I don't have any pictures of it. I've been too busy whirling around in it to take any.

First, on Tuesday afternoon we went to Solihull, a town with a shopping centre that does unusually well on the access front, as well as a significant amount of it being indoors. It was an excellent 'training area'. Solihull also has a Hotel Chocolat. Ahem. Training opportunity. Accessible environment. Learning to use chair. Yes.

Then on Wednesday morning I got to use the chair for one of its specific stated purposes. I went to post a letter. The postbox is about 500m away so this was a trip of approximately 1km.

At this point the freedom went to my head and I decided that, dammit, for no particular reason I was going Up The Hill. Power to maximum. Anti-roll facility on. Leaning forward so that my shoulders were practically touching my knees, to avoid tipping the chair back.

(Honourable mention to the young woman coming out of her house halfway up the hill, who not only asked me if I wanted any help - gaining Good Samaritan points - but also accepted my answer of "no, it's okay thanks, I've got batteries," without any fuss, which is perfect.)

I got there:

The focus on my phone's camera isn't really set up for rolling vistas and the weather wasn't great, but you can see the significant gradient of the hill and a hint of the lovely fields beyond.

Admittedly I was a bit out of breath by that point. The salesman who took me for the test drive had used a chair that really was very different, and I should not have taken his word for it that it was comparable. On the other hand, my Access to Work grant specified that I was allowed this exact chair and no other, so it's not like it would have made a difference to the sale.

But of course I had a chair with me, so it was perfectly okay to just sit at the top of the hill and relax for a few minutes. And then... then, I got to go down the hill. The wheels are very clever indeed, the tiniest pressures were enough to make sure my descent was calm, controlled, and effortless. Then it was the 500m route home.

('Special' mention to the woman in the huge tank of a car who pulled up alongside me on my road, and then sat there impatiently waving me past. I was confused, because I wasn't in front of a driveway or anything, so I just smiled and carried on. Then as soon as I was past, she parked her behemoth up on the pavement - the entire pavement - neatly blocking the path for any other wheelchair user or person with a pushchair, and probably quite a few regular pedestrians. Inconsiderate cow.)

I'm feeling it in my hands (from gripping the push-rims) and my shoulders (from constantly moving back and forth), and I also have that very particular ME/overdid things feeling of a sore throat, random tingly sensations, and lurching vertigo. But it's not as bad as I was expecting and as long as I'm very careful today I should be alright.


Lene Andersen said...

Congrats on being set free! I never understood when people say "confined to a wheelchair" - don't they have any imagination? It liberates.

Thanks for sharing your first trip.

Margaret said...

I hate it when people park their vehicles on the pavement. (Sidewalk here)

Where I live, it's against the law (Is it also illegal in UK?) but, that doesn't stop them. cavisb

Anonymous said...


Sorry this isn't "on topic" to your post, but I thought you may like to know about the following. It came in Benefits and Work's latest newsletter. I know anti-disability/anti-sick hate is a common problem we dislike:

"The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has begun an investigation into whether public bodies are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed. If you think the DWP are failing in this duty – and actually making things much worse - email EHRC and tell them so, your details will not be made public. Email:

Take care.

Mary said...

Thanks everyone.

Margaret - as I understand it (and I am not a lawyer), it is an offence to obstruct the public highway, road or pavement, in the UK. The police (or possibly civil authority, not sure) can issue a penalty notice and/or physically move or even impound the car.

However in the real world, no copper is going to spend their time pouncing on poorly-parked cars, and we don't get traffic wardens in residential areas, only in town centres.

Technically a private individual could call and report the obstructing car, but that would be a very, very low priority call.