I got my new chair. At long last, after nearly six months - actually nine months since my doctor signed the wrong prescription for Medi-Cal - it was delivered to my door on Monday morning. Actually, it was unexpected, not what I had planned for the day - it turned out someone didn’t e-mail me during the previous week - and somewhat unreal after waiting so long, but I now have it!
It’s a Quantum Edge (google it) put out by Pride Mobility (how appropriate!), and it’s pretty much a Cadillac among wheelchairs. With a central axle and four small auxiliary wheels, along with some hefty springs, it is extremely agile, with a remarkably smooth ride (more so than with my past chairs) - remarkable because the chair looks topsy-turvy.
For me, this is more than a new wheelchair; it is a new lifestyle. I have to make a number of adjustments in my life. For example, after always having rear-wheel drive, I need to get used to this front wheel - actually central wheel - drive. (When I want the front to go left, the rear goes right - weird!) I need to figure out how to attach a cup holder to the chair. And lights - something the chair company determines to have nothing to do with. Also, a huge issue I have to face is that, in this chair, I can’t access my backpack because of the headrest.
Yes, the chair has a headrest. I’ve never had a wheelchair with a headrest. I never thought I needed one. But, although I insisted that I didn’t want a chair that confined me or pinned me down like I was paralyzed, one of the best things about the chair is that I sit much better, helping my back and my butt, because it is like the seat is molded to my body.
Another great thing about the chair is that I can tilt the entire seat back - far, far back - which is heavenly. When I start to tilt back, I go into another space, and when I’m all the way back, with my knees far above my chest and my feet dangling, I am completely safe and relaxed - more than when I lay down. It is like I am being held. Like I said, it is Heaven. When I go back to the upright position, I really feel refreshed, with a burst of energy. I’ve been wishing for a simple way of resting during the day for years.
I wonder about tilting back in public. Will it frighten people? I’d love to tilt all the way back at concerts. I will probably tilt back part way at lectures and shows and during meeting for worship. (The chair can be driven with the seat tilted back to a certain extent - yes, I’ve been playing with it! - but, so far, I can only control it with the seat tilted back only a few inches.)
I realized the other day that the biggest change is that, in this chair, I am older. With the headrest, the tilting seat, the molded seat, it feels like this is a chair for an old man. There is a part of me that is fighting this, but it’s okay, because this chair will make my life easier. And - guess what - I am getting older.
The other good thing about having this chair is that it means I’ll get my Vmax speech device back. The DynaVox guy is coming to attach it on Monday, when he gets back from Hawaii. Whatever.