Wheelchairs can be hired from the Red Cross, bought from mobility shops or obtained from Social Services – talk to your G.P. You can get some with head supports or some that fully recline, so you can go out even if you have a problem sitting up. Electric wheelchairs are an option; but they take a lot of effort to drive, as does trying to wheel yourself.
Wheelchairs are a great way of getting around; but just because you are not walking does not mean you are not using energy.
Pace yourself and don’t try and do too much. It is better to be able to go out for lots of short trips than to got out for one long journey once in a blue moon.
Although wheelchairs are good for outside, most houses don’t have room to manoeuvre them in. You can get commodes on wheels, which are narrower than wheelchairs. With the lid on they can be used as mini wheelchairs and you can be pushed round the house on them. They are not as easy to push as wheelchairs., sometimes it’s better to pull them backwards.
Blue badges or disability parking badges are a good idea, available from your Social Services Department. They allow you to park nearer to where you want to go.
Driving a wheelchair is a very precise art, it can be a very terrifying first time experience. Try to stay calm, although this is often easier said than done! Ask the person to go slowly and make sure they are paying attention to what they are doing! A seatbelt on the wheelchair is a very good idea. Don’t worry if you accidentally bump into people or scrape the paint off doorways as you go in – everybody does it! Just smile, apologise profusely and blame it on the driver.
Going out in a wheelchair for the first time can be really hard. You may feel embarrassed and as if everyone is looking at you; but don’t let it get you down. Those who have been unlucky enough not to be able to go outside for long stretches at a time would tell you how much they would love to go out in a wheelchair, no matter what people thought! You won’t be in a wheelchair forever and for the moment it is a tool to use to allow you to do the things you enjoy.
Check out the article My Wheelchair - from hatred to blessing
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