Have I used this title before?! Who knows. Oh well, I like it. So, one of the big issues with being in a wheelchair is that it can lead to a lack of independence. Not necessarily through a lack of trying, but through pure difficulty. One of the things I’ve found hardest is being able to use my car independently, as so far I’ve required someone at either end to get my chair in and out of the boot. But no longer! From this moment on, I am free!
Yeah, that sounds dramatic, sorry. But I’m happy either way. I now have the ability to go where I want and do what I want whenever I want; which is a complete novelty to me at the present time. I can go from one set of wheels to another, and back again, completely on my own. Obviously it’s still more practical to have someone at either end place my chair in the boot, however there is something reassuring about having it available when driving alone. It’s something that has evaded me thus far for a number of reasons, and in an attempt to be educational rather than satirical for once I’ll go into detail here.
Firstly, getting something the size of a wheelchair into a car is never going to be easy. There are surprisingly few parts, and over the last few decades the technology used in wheelchairs has advanced dramatically and has made getting a chair in and out of a vehicle easier, but by no means is it easy. You take the cushion off, fold the back down, take the wheels off, then lift the frame of the chair in. Sounds simple, but requires a certain finesse that has evaded me until now.
Secondly, storing a few lumps of metal in a place they are not designed to go is, unsurprisingly, also slightly difficult. My way involves putting the wheels in the rear near side footwell, my cushion and backpack on the seat behind the driver, and the actual frame of the chair on the passenger seat. My car is incredible, but the one thing it lacks is electrically movable seats, and so I cannot move my seat back to make this process easier as I cannot move it forward again. Then we get to the problem of securing all of these pieces, as if I were to be involved in any kind of incident, or take a corner too fast, or hit the brakes hard, it’s bye bye windscreen and wheelchair.
The third and final main reason I find it difficult is the reassembly at the other end. It’s the same as getting it in the car just reversed, but usually getting out is harder as I have driven from home to somewhere that isn’t as level or open. And it’s normally raining.
Despite all of this, many people (myself now included) manage to live independent lives in regards to motoring, and being independent is absolutely key in this life. I can pop to the shops, go see friends, pick my daughter up from school… the possibilities are endless! I’m super happy now, and I can tick another thing off the list of issues to deal with as a new paraplegic.