davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)

I've been meaning to sort out the slightly undersized Quickie GPV I ended up getting for free after last year's eBay wheelchair fiasco (first they ruled the other person was right and paid them, then revised that to me being right and refunded me). It's not so small as to be unusable, just a touch narrow if you're wearing any sort of jacket. It might be useful to have a spare chair I don't mind getting bashed about. The main thing that needed taking care of is that the caster tyres were so worn they were in imminent danger of tearing across the width and peeling right off. So I looked up caster prices. How much!?! £45 a pair is the cheaper end of the spectrum! You can get a cheap transit chair for only a fiver more! That was rather more than I wanted to pay, so I've been watching eBay.

And this week one of the mobility dealers offered a very slightly used pair for £25. That's more like it, and it turns out they are very slightly used - they still have the mould mark down the centre of the tyre, so if they've been used outdoors it can't have been for long. Only one minor drawback, they're got built-in self-powered LEDs that flash as they spin. Oooh, shiny!

I've fitted them, which took a bit of delving about for every spare washer in the house as they're 1" width and my caster forks are 2.5", but it looks like I've got a functional result (I'm too cheap to buy proper spacers if I don't need to). I'll give it a try tomorrow to check they roll okay - I'm actually not worried whether they flash or not, I'd almost prefer they didn't., but for £25 I'll take what I get!

davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

Distance covered yesterday, c 900m there with a descent of 24m in the first half, pretty much braking all the way - I've reached a landmark and worn my first pair of wheelchair gloves through to the gel on both thumbs. Hands were unpleasantly hot by the time I'd slowed onto the level!

c950m back with a 22m rise, 2m of which happens in about 10m on a corner. I'd have to choose a different route if I couldn't get out and push those 10m. I in 5 is not practical. But apart from that I pushed it non stop, if very slowly in places. I did have the traditional little old lady asking if I would like a push, but she did it aboot 10 feet from the crest of a slope, and there's a straight 150m with a slight descent immediately after, so of course I whipped by her as soon as I crested it.

So total distance about a nautical mile, which I think is the furthest I've pushed apart from the couple of days in Athens (and that was all downhill).

What taking the two slightly different routes confirmed is that I have substantially more difficulty on cambered pavements, and that my left arm is only capable of getting me up a kerb with difficulty. Because of a car being awkward, I ended up doing one slope on the opposite side to usual, The side I usually do it on has flat paving, the opposite side has the same slope, but is steeply cambered, it was far more difficult than it normally is (this is where I had the little old lady intervention). It's not simply a matter of me, though, the new chair isn't great at holding a line on a cambered pavement, it has a strong tendency to turn into the slope. The clown chair was  just as bad, the GPV, with cambered wheels, made it not an issue.The particular problem I have with this is it means I need to brake with the uphill arm while pushing with the downhill, and if my dud left arm is the downhill one, this is massively less than ideal.

I rang Wheelchair Services on Friday to say I definitely need a 3" cushion as discussed (and noted) at the handover, the seat to footplate gap is too short otherwise and my legs aren't flat on the cushion. I strongly suspect they measured me while I was sitting on a 3" cushion. I'm currently using the 2" they gave me, with a 1" I had in the house under it, which makes the difference between being in intolerable pain within an hour or so, and being able to sit for at least three hours.. Apparently fixing this will need one of the therapists to ring me back and discuss it. I'll raise the camber issue at the same time. I've checked the manual and the XLT can have cambered wheels, but you need an extra part in the wheel mounting to accomplish it, rather than just adding a couple of extra washers as on the GPV, so that'll probably need to be ordered in if I can get them to agree to it.
 


davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)
 Just heard from a wheelie friend that our local council are proposing selling off the disabled parking spaces on Rochester High Street for development and replacing them with extra spaces in a car park that's further away. And I've had to rewrite this because the crafty sods aren't increasing the provision of disabled spaces as I first thought, they've simply listed all of them in town as if they're new, whereas in reality they're simply relocated the six on the High Street to the new multi-storey, which is at least 250m off the High Street. One of the listed alternatives had me speechless in awe at the sheer cluelessness of the proposal. They're claiming two spaces in a car park that's over a kilometre away, and at the top of an extremely steep hill are an alternative. It takes me at least 10 minutes, probably closer to 15, to cover half the distance between the two, and I struggle with the height increase - and that's the proportionally flatter part of the trip! (I'd always though those two spaces were residents parking provision for the flats opposite, I have no idea why they're there if they're meant to be public provision, there's nowhere nearby in terms of wheelchair access!)

The disabled car parking situation on the High Street is already pretty dire, I think I've only ever managed to park in there two or three times because it's always full, but this is just going to make it worse.

 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

Another sunny day. In fact I'm probably sunburnt as I didn't think to take a hat or put on suntan stuff.

Some trouble getting a taxi, I just couldn't get through to the big local firm, so in the end I rolled down to the station, just in time to see the last taxi pulling out of the rank. Fortunately I only had to wait about 10 minutes, even with about eight people in front of me. That meant that by the time I'd gotten into the Castle Gardens at 12:30ish I'd missed the first half of my favourite band of festival regulars, Hot Rats, but at least I caught half their set. The incomporable Ian Cutler on violin, with Doug Hudson on guitar and vocals, they've a new bass player this year, Scott Kirk, who actually does facial expressions (the old one wasn't at all bad, but he just stood stock still, expressionless, and played).

My friends had already arrived and found a table on the grass almost dead centre in front of the stage, and fortunately one is notably tall, so I found them straight away. Good to catch up with everyone, particularly the friend who is about 5 weeks post bone marrow transplant and is looking okay, even if not at his best.

Following on from Hot Rats we had Sur Les Docks, a French band from Dunkirk with a pirate motif picked up from the Dunkirkers. Mandolin, whistle, violin, accordion, guitar, bass,  drums. They're often over for the Festival, but this is the first time I've caught them, really good. They describe themselves as 'Maritime Raw Folk Punk', which is just about right, imagine the Pogues doing sea shanties in French.The whistle player retired to the back of the stage for a smoke during other people's solos, which struck me as very French. Their lead singer/mandolin  player was very hoarse, apparently they had a really good time last night at the Gordon, where I'd been earlier in the day - it gave his voice a little bit of a Piaf Je Ne Regrette Rien edge. I bought their current CD (I actually was waving the seller over because she's normally the one selling Hot Rats CDs, but I was happy to buy Sur Les Dock by that point).

Nous Sommes Sur Les Docks

Next up were the Fabulous Fezheads, who are sort of indescribable. They're festival regulars, they've been going for 25 years, and they've built almost a cult around the old Music Hall Sand Dance routine. I don't recall seeing their full act before as normally you have difficulty prising them out of the nearest bar, though they do a fairly unique morris dance using fezes. It turns out three of them actually play passable bass, and two of those can sing. One of the others is my former MP and ex-Minister for Disabled People (Jonathan Shaw, the last minister who could be described as pro-disabled people, rather than against us). Novel!

 

Severak white men where red fezes and red and white kaftans, with shorts underneath, playing guitar on a stage

 

I didn't catch the name of the fourth act, but the description was Anglo-Swedish, folk rock, with a Swedish woman on lead vocals and guitar, a backing vocalist/guitarist who played sitting down while she bounced about the stage, and a dreadlocked bass player who never strayed from the back of the stage. I'd quite happily have stayed and listened to more of their set, but it was down to me at that point and I needed the loo, so I rolled down to the High Street to grab something to eat - chicken noodles from the Singapora, then grabbed a taxi and was home by about half past five.

Sweeps continues tomorrow with the big procession, I normally head over to catch Hot Rats playing the Gordon, but the festival pretty much wraps up after the procession at 3PM and Bank Holiday taxi fares are extortionate, so I'l probably pass.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

It's Blogging Against Disablism Day and all the blogs can be found at the index page.

I was struggling for a topic until [personal profile] kaberett 's post here got me thinking about all the microaggressions around wheelchair use and especially the meme that it represents 'giving up'. That led to thinking about my experiences of the past year, and so here we are:

On 'Giving Up'.

 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

Just back from the first day of Rochester's Sweep's Festival, and first time I've done it in a chair (I opted out last year as I was three days post surgery). The crowds were surprisingly good about getting out of the way of the chair - once they'd noticed me! Of course it was Rochester, so cobbles everywhere, and my back is letting me know it isn't happy with me.

Slight shortage of the usual suspects, bumped into my friend Ray in the beer tent at the Gordon Hotel, but that was it for today, when we've had as many as a dozen in the group in the past, though we had a pleasant chat with a couple of the bell ringing crowd he knew. Should be more people out tomorrow hopefully. Caught the end of Green Diesel's set in the Gordon as I arrived, female fiddler/vocalist backed by four guys on guitar, ukelele etc, then went up to the Castle Gardens to see most of their second set. 'Most' as by the time we'd queued for the cash machine (all three machines at Asda had been flat out of cash when I tried earlier), then I'd pushed most of the way around the castle to get to the accessible gate, they'd already started. Worth a listen.

Somewhat annoyed that Medway have done their usual thing and shut down the disabled parking by the Castle to put stalls on, though not to the point of not buying a pasty from one...

And the weather held, which after Tuesday's hail showers is an relief. It did go ominously grey at five o'clock as the afternoon session was winding down, but now it's back to sunny again. We've done the evening session as well in the past, but that needs a reasonable number of you, so I headed across to the station to grab a taxi home - the new station is much more convenient for that than the old one, though I'm now forced to pay for taxis both ways, when in the past I'd have walked at least one way.

davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)

So my wheelchair fitting included the wheelchair tech confirming that my pelvis is rotated right side forward and elevated on one side (he didn't say which), to the point my right knee sticks out an inch in front of the left. I actually suspect I know what's causing the twist, I've a habit of sitting with my left foot tucked under me. Ironically I do it because it makes me feel more stable and offloads my SI joint. I've been thinking some more about the problem in the past couple of days, firstly in respect of whether I need to do anything about it and secondly in relation to the chair.

Bendy types, any thoughts on the general implications? Flag it up to GP given all my sitting issues? Or just file it under 'Bendy bodies are borked'? One of my bendy friends on FB pointed out it could be scoliosis, which might make it something I should get looked at. I've had functional (i.e. non-structural) scoliosis in the past, and it clearly gets worse at times with things being pulled up on the left (I got home from one train journey last year, lay down to stretch out and discovered I'd suddenly acquired a 3" leg length discrepancy (there's normally a very slight one), which faded away over the next couple of days. On the probably-not-scoliosis front, the tech noted my shoulders were level and my navel on the centreline (well, when sitting anyway).

Wheelie types, any thought on the implications for chair/cushion? I asked about cushions, given they had me sitting on a chair* that happened to have a Jay Lite on it (and trying to plant the idea he should specify that), and he said they'd probably give me something he called a 'pudgy', which sounded like your basic memory foam block. I'm going to argue they should at least be specifying something contoured, but all thoughts gratefully received.  I will buy something better if need be, but I'd prefer to argue them into providing it (he did say I could come back to them if I was having issues). I think the difference between us on cushions is he's only concerned with the cushion as a means of preventing pressure sores, where I'm a low risk, while I'm looking at it in combination with the chair as a combined system to avoid irritating my bendy pelvis, where I'm demonstrably very high risk, but not for something that's one of their performance metrics.

* Annoyingly the Argon they'd said I couldn't have.

** And even with the Lite I was having some pain sitting, though that was something that had appeared before I transferred onto it.

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

2nd wheelchair appointment, not quite as good as the first one, but okay.

Not helped by them running an hour and a quarter late, and me being half an hour early. Though fortunately that meant the three hail showers had blown through before I needed to head back to the car (doubly good as I'd left my coat in the car).

It was one Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services wheelchair tech and a local wheelchair dealer in a consultancy role (apparently they'd got him in to advise on one particular patient and were running as many past him as they could while they had him).

The negative was that they took the Quickie Argon off the menu right at the start, no explanation beyond 'unfortunately we won't be able to supply that one'*. OTOH they did offer either a Quickie Life or an Invacare XLT, both of which I was able to take a look at. The difference is the Argon was an L-shaped frame, the Life and the XLT are box frames, the Argon might have sat on the passenger seat in the car, the Life and XLT will have to go in the boot, almost certainly with at least one rear seat folded, but seeing as I never use the rear seats and can waddle between boot and driver's door that isn't an issue.

I was amused they apologised for having the XLT set up as 'a bit of a grannie's chair' (height adjustable push handles and armrests), it looked much better with them off. They were completely on board with my preference for a rigid chair, which took the folding version of the Life off the table, and in the end they left the decision to me, which basically came down to weight. The XLT was just slightly lighter with wheels on, and much more noticeably so with wheels off - advantage of a titanium frame. I was tending towards the XLT anyway, but asked their opinions and both said XLT.

I suspect I'm not going to get as good a cushion as I hoped, because I'm not a full time user and not high risk, but the tech did say I should come back to them if I was having issues and I'm willing to buy a good one if needs be. Interestingly the tech confimed my pelvis is twisted - he asked about spinal issues such as scoliosis and I pointed out the right knee forward of the left thing, which he'd already spotted. He got down on his knees and had a feel and confirmed it's twisted both rotationally and in elevation when I'm sitting, though I'm not certain which side is high - if it's right then I've got even more of a leg length discrepancy than I thought as subjectively it's my left leg that's slightly short.

I was chatting with the dealer while the tech went off to get the order forms, and he pointed out that even though the XLT was lighter, the castors on it were much heavier than those on the Life (6"x2" vs 6"x1" - very apparent when you tipped the chairs up and felt the momentum when you let the castors swing around into your hand), plus the narrower ones will have a lower rolling resistance, so we opted for those when speccing it. He also noted the Life is more expensive, but he always offers the XLT first to his customers.

They were a bit surprised I'm only a 16" seat width when they measured me up, apparently I look chunkier than that. There wasn't a great deal of customization to be done, but they were willing to work with me on that, skirt guards vs arm rests, narrower castors, and my choice of colours - I went for the sandblasted titanium, up to two weeks longer for delivery, but it's not going to chip, and pneumatic tyres vs solids. The only thing the tech balked on was folding push handles (which the dealer pushed for), apparently they're a repair problem, so I had to settle for low-profile instead.

Their standards are it should be available within 65 days at the outside. I'm not sure if the two weeks extra for the frame gets added on, but they seemed to think it should be noticeablely less than that, so hopefully by the start of July at the latest I'll have a decent active user chair.

* I suspect I ran into the difference between an OT concerned about maximising function, and a wheelchair tech concerned about minimising budget, and different interpretations of the fact I'm not a full time user. Seeing as I was surprised to be offered the Argon and I'm ending up with about what I'd hoped for beforehand, but in a titanium frame, I can't complain too much.

davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)
I've just been looking at the mail that piled up while I was away. If you exclude magazines, about 30% of it is for hospital appointments.

Admittedly two of the three are for the same appointment, just one of those was for the date I had to reschedule through not being at the same end of the country. And the final version of that one, tomorrow's appointment to look at my infected toe, is quite likely to lead to further appointments if they don't sort it out on the spot, which I suspect they won't when I point out I had problems with wounds reopening after last year's gall bladder surgery and that hypermobility complicates local anaesthetics. If they do it on the spot, great, but I suspect they won't, and then there's potential follow-ups.

The other is the second wheelchair assessment appointment, and I know that I'm due at least one more after that. The good news is I didn't expect it so quickly, it's for the 26th, and they knew I was unavailable until the 14th, so given I was warned it wouldn't be fast, but it was then upgraded to 'high priority', that suggests that their high priority actually is pretty fast. Of course then they have to build the thing....

It's good these things are getting done, but they are complicating life. I had to shift my fortnight in Durham because of the first wheelchair appointment, which combined with my sister's already booked holiday meant she and I couldn't see a solicitor together while I was there to start the power of attorney process for Dad (which is likely to turn into the Court of Protection process, hence solicitor from the outset rather than doing it ourselves) before the school holidays ended and she's back to being unavailable during the business week. That's the second time it's happened, and I've had to tell her to do it herself when she next has an opportunity, because I just can't guarantee to be available.

Fingers crossed for no more unexpected ones, but my neck and shoulder do show potential signs of being a problem again - the orthopod I'm seeing tomorrow may well be the one I saw about last year's shoulder issue, and he did say it was only a matter of time until I'd be back....
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

 

Picture of a wheelchair, with a label "I'm not certain, I think it's a bicycle in front of a chair)

 

(Try with your own images at www.captionbot.ai)
davidgillon: A pair of legs (mine) sitting in a wheelchair (GPV)
So I'm back home after my fortnight in Durham. And the journey was going so well until I got to London....

Not only were we late into King's Cross because we were held just outside, but Virgin forgot to come and get me off the train. I had to send a friendly wandering film crew in search of the guard, who managed to waylay a member of Passenger Assistance who was providing wheelchair assistance for someone who'd been further down the train. He confirmed I was on their roster, just no one had turned up. He tried to use the onboard ramp to get me off, but couldn't open the cupboard it's kept in, so had to go get one from further up the platform. Finally got off the train about 10 minutes after we arrived.

Despite all that I got across to St Pancras in time for my connection, but the platform staff had decided to let all the alighting foot passengers out of the inbound wheelchair gate (never mind the half-dozen foot passenger gates they just needed to swipe their ticket over), which delayed me several minutes in being able to get onto the platform and arrange the ramp, which was long enough the guard refused to let me board (though people who came through after me on foot were boarded quite happily). We had time to get back to the end of the platform before it pulled out, so there would have been ample time to get me on board.

The next train was only 30 minutes later, so it wasn't an utter disaster. but there's nothing quite as good for making you feel like a second class citizen as having the disabled access provision pre-empted so foot passengers aren't delayed by 30 seconds.
davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

Result!

Within the first 10 minutes the Wheelchair Assessment OT was saying "I think I'm going to recommend we provide you a Quickie Argon". I thought I'd have to fight far harder to get a lower spec chair!

She initially said "as a medium priority", but when she saw how I was using the existing monster she changed that to "high priority"

Apparently that should be another two appointments to sort it - I'm assuming one trial with an Argon of roughly the right size to check precise measurements and then a final fitting with the actual chair. Not certain how long that will take, she implied it wasn't likely to be fast, but that was before she switched to high priority.

She's not recommending an aftermarket back at the minute, but I talked her into a higher back than she was initially proposing - above the bottom of the shoulder blades as opposed to below it. Nice attention to detail/local issues as well, when I said I'd be spending most of my time in Rochester she said "Ah, cobbles, need a wider front tyre on the castors to avoid getting bogged down".

*And she said Helium not Argon at one point (c£2.5k vs c£2k), but I think that was just a slip of the tongue.
 

It's been a long afternoon, though. I left for my Wheelchair Assessment at 12:10, I got back home at 5:45 (it's a 10 minute drive). I actually got into the appointment 10 minutes early (apparently there was confusion at their end as to whether the appontment was 11AM or 1PM, but my paperwork clearly said 1PM), but they used up pretty much the whole allocated timeslot as well.

The rest of the afternoon I spent in A&E, seeing as a) I was up at the hospital anyway, and b) my infected toe was a bloody mess this morning. I was actually triaged almost immediately, but then had to wait until almost 5 before being seen. They were excellent once they had their hands on me, but the problem seemed to be they only had one nurse practitioner running the minor injuries section and deciding on the treatment her minions needed to implement and she was run off her feet.

 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)

AAaaaargggghhh!

It's been a hell of an afternoon. I popped out at 2PM for what should have been a 20 minute errand to book a couple of train tickets. I only took my crutches because the station is a nightmare in a chair. I realised while I was in the queue that the bank holiday is this weekend, not next, which meant I also needed to go to my GPs, pick up my repeat prescription and go to the chemists (the alternative being spending Monday in opiate withdrawal, which is really not my favourite thing).

So I got to the station counter and told them what tickets I needed, and she punches it in.
Me: "And I need the wheelchair seat, I'll be travelling in my chair".
Her: Tap, tap, "It's not giving me the option to book the wheelchair seat. I think they've changed it so you can only book it through passenger assistance".
Me, dubious: "I booked here just a couple of weeks ago without a problem".

So she gets on the phone, and she talks, and she taps, and different receipts keep coming through her printer and she keeps screwing them up because some of them are for two people etc. It gradually becomes clear that whoever is on the other end can book the wheelchair space, but doesn't know how to use the booking system, so she is coaching them key by key.

Half an hour later (and my comfortable standing time limit is about 10 minutes), the system finally spits out the tickets.

I look at them "I don't think these are the wheelchair seat" (They might be, they're at the end of a carriage, but the wheelchair seat is normally coach C, not Coach F)

She gives me an "Oh, god, no." look and says "You'll need to ring passenger assistance."

Then I had to shoot over to Rochester to my GPs, who hadn't done the repeat yet (as it's 48 hour turnaround and I only put it in yesterday), but fortunately the receptionist went and got the doctor to sign it straight away. Then whip home to pick the chair up as there was no way I was going to make it to the chemist's on crutches, and drive back over to Rochester to go the chemists.

My 20 minute errand has taken 3 and a quarter hours, I still have to ring passenger assistance, and I just took my boots off to find one sock is stuck to my foot with dried blood.

I need a beer!

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
It's rare enough that I remember dreams, and disability tends to be a bit inconsistent in them. But last night/this morning was the first time I've dreamed of being hypermobile. Of course being a dream it couldn't just simply be 'Oh, you're bendy', no, I had managed to dislocate both left shoulder and right knee. Which is a slightly odd combination as while my left shoulder is dodgy, it's the right one that subluxes, and my right knee is one of the few joints I rarely have issues with.

I suspect the trigger for the dream was writing down notes for my wheelchair assessment next week. I don't recall the 'plot' per se of the dream, but whatever had caused the dislocations, I ended up being treated by itinerant Americans who for some reason had taken over a British hospital. It's logic, Jim, but not as we know it.
davidgillon: Dina Meyer as Oracle, sitting a manual chair in front of a clock face (Wheelchair)
I have my assessment with Wheelchair Services coming up a week today, so I'd appreciate any thoughts on stuff I should make sure to mention. The aim is to get them to supply a rigid framed manual with ideally a Jay back. I think I can demonstrate the current chair is inadequate, but the risk is they might just throw me a voucher for part of the cost.

Current thoughts:

Shoulder stuff
1a) Hypermobility shoulder issues causing problems with pushing the current chair with back erect, never mind with armrests fitted. The instructions are to take all of your chair with you, I plan to take the armrests in a bag on my lap because there's no way I'm pushing with them fitted. They came off the chair within the first 10 minutes. And I'm also going to have the back folded down (see icon!) to demonstrate its width is an issue in changing the way I push - medical appointment as performance art.

1b) Hypermobility shoulder issues/neuro issues and the extreme weight of the current chair for lifting into and out of the car, which I'm generally doing single handed because my left arm is so screwed it's easier to do it with right alone. I switched to the chair because my shoulders were getting iffy for crutch use, straining them lifting the chair instead isn't a positive move.

1c) Hypermobility shoulder issues/neuro issues and general pushing issues. My left arm is measurably weaker than my left, and that's a problem that gets worse the more I push. It's particularly a problem with the current chair on Rochester's cambered pavements as it won't hold a line and often I'm reduced to braking with the strong arm and pushing with the weak to try and get it to go straight. I know that's not a factor on a rigid framed chair with cambered wheels because I've used one and specifically checked that.

2) Hypermobility pelvic and hip issues and seating difficulties. Not so easy to draw attention to, but I'm definitely going to be talking about having had my hips sublux when the chair flexes under me on something as simple as a kerb-cut, and about two days on Athenian cobbles irritating my SI joint to the point I couldn't stand for more than a moment or two for six weeks. And that I've had the opportunity to try a rigid chair over the same terrain and that a rigid frame makes it a non issue. Any suggestions for also pressuring them for a better cushion than the £20 lump of memory foam they supplied gratefully accepted!

3) Hypermobility and back issues and seating issues. Need to emphasise that I'm not getting enough support from a low-backed chair, that I'm only using the chair that way because it's worse with the back up and with the back down it's only viable for an hour or two, and that if I need to sit without pushing then I have to have the back raised, but  that even then I'm supplementing it by using a thin seat cushion to make it more rigid (and I could really have done with a headrest too on that train journey last week). I may need to bring up the problems I had with seating at work, but I think the trick here will be avoiding them saying 'That's a work issue, therefore it's Access to Work's problem, not ours".

4) Leg length discrepancy - when I sit in the chair my right knee is visibly further forward than my left, it's difficult to measure, but it looks to be around an inch. I'm not sure if that's an actual leg length discrepancy, or if I'm consistently sitting with the right side of my pelvis twisted forward. If the latter then clearly it's an issue for Wheelchair Services, if it's the former it would be nice to get it confirmed so I can point it out to my GP as possibly a factor in my ongoing pelvis/hip issues.

5) General usability. The current chair seems to be explicitly configured to make it as difficult to wheelie as possible. That's all very well for a pensioner who only goes out with someone to push them, but I'm independent, active, and invariably on my own. I need a chair I can wheelie up kerbs without having to push so hard to do it I throw myself over backwards. And while they're at it actually giving me some training in using it safely would be nice!

Possibly also worth mentioning, intermittent problems with bendy left thumb interfering with pushing.

Any and all additional thoughts gratefully received.

(I've also had an email from them, I suspect all of their clients have, asking if I'm interested in being a patient rep on their board. I'm tempted, but I suspect I'm their nightmare candidate).
 

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
Sample of recent communications wrt returning the incorrectly advertised wheelchair:

Twitter "

@WTBDavidG trying to resolve this for you. I suggest that you continue to work w/ us by responding to the email we sent you. "

As a friend who saw the tweet commented, that sounds awfully like a veiled threat - it was in response to one where I said they had me on the point of contacting Trading Standards. As for responding to the email, I've asked for clarification of which one. {Crickets}

By email:

Hello dwgillon,

Your case was placed on hold temporarily. We will get back to you with an update by 12 Mar, 2016.
Customer support comments:
We need you to provide us with documentation from a qualified 3rd party showing the current condition of the item and any potential repair costs. You can provide this proof by responding to the email sent with further information.2

 
Problem 1) no email with further information. Problem 2) is this asking me to provide information, saying they will provide an update, or both? I'm an author and I can't tell. I design complex work processes and I can't tell. Problem 3) The requested information is ridiculous, the chair is the wrong size, you can't repair it to the right size, it's like asking for a quote to repair a Landrover into a Range Rover. Problem 4) who is "a qualified third party". Problem 5) whatever information they want, I can't provide, because this message doesn't have a reply option! Out of about 10 messages, this and one other turned up in my eBay inbox only, all other messages were echoed to my own email as well, so naturally I was watching that. Which meant though that message was sent on the 9th I didn't see it til late on the 10th. The other message, also sent on the 9th, says send the chair by the 11th or lose the refund, so is contradicted by this one. As I'm travelling tomorrow there is even less possibility of me posting the chair than there already was.
 
Further email because eBay Customer Services doesn't have a clue WTF they're doing:
"
 

Hello David,

 

We are getting in touch from eBay Customer Service about the wheelchair (item blah) that you purchased from “*****”. I understand you have already posted the item back and provided us tracking information. Allow me to explain why we’re contacting you.

 

Upon checking on your account, I can see here that you provided a tracking number (blah) to your seller regarding this item, and we commend you for doing so. As it is important that we have tracking information so we can verify the status of the delivery. Allow me to clarify things for your benefit but first, I have provided in this email the details of the tracking information:

 

Tracking number: blah

Tracking courier: https://www.royalmail.com/track-your-item

Tracking Result: That item number isn't recognised

 

We now are currently investigating the case filed for the above complaint and in order for us to make the appropriate resolution, please reply to this email within the next 3 days, attaching a copy of your postal receipt that contains the delivery address. All documents sent to eBay must comply with these guidelines:

 

<details>

 

I assure you that once we have verified that the item is delivered to your buyer’s address, we will go ahead and close the case in your favour."


Dear eBay, you can't track the parcel because I haven't posted it because you haven't gotten back to me about my not physically being able to take it to the Post Office to post it.


Email in response:

"

Hello David,

 

Thank you for writing back to eBay Customer Service about the item Quickie Gpv Mobility Wheelchair you purchased (item blah) that you wish to return. Im sorry to know your situation as you cannot able to return the item. I can imagine how difficult it is for you with your condition. Please know that we truly value the business that you bring to eBay. Let me assist you with this.


Upon review, I can see that you provided tracking number. I am sorry to know if there was a misunderstanding with the return issue. We have seen in your case details that you printed shipping label on 28
th of February 2016 and provided tracking number. This is the reason why we asked you to provide proof of postage as the tracking number has no result upon tracking it online.

 

To clarify this, it seemed that the item has not yet posted as you mentioned that you cannot able to bring it to the post office due to your condition. Im sorry to know that. Therefore, I suggest that you ask for assistance from your family or friends. You may call them if they are not near your location. It is very important that the item will be returned for your refund."

Seriously, WTF, let's patronise the hell out of the customer because he is disabled and clearly incapable of realising he can call his family to come running from the other end of the country to post it for him? Incidentally no, they can't. And let's 'clarify' what he told us by repeating it as though he didn't know it? This response was timestamped 3AM UK time, so clearly comes from a call centre elsewhere, which may explain some of the language. Doubly frustrating, it ignores everything I've raised with them.

I'm utterly seething, and if they decide to rule out the refund because I haven't posted it on the 11th, when they also have it on hold til the 12th, and didn't get back to me until the 9th, and still haven't reached a decision on having Royal Mail pick it up, I'll be incandescent. I'm away from home from first thing in the morning until late Sunday, I fully expect to be on the phone to Trading Standards on Monday morning.

Aaaaarghh!!!!
davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)

Wrapped up the eBay chair last night (bubblewrap and clingfilm), and damn-near killed myself just getting it from the lounge to the hall (having necessarily bubble-wrapped and clingfilmed the wheels in place). My god, that's an awkward package - only practical grip was to pick it up by the footplate and dangle it in front of me. God knows how eBay expect me to get it to the Post Office, my facetious 'balanced on my head' actually looks like the most practical method available!

I filled in the eBay Customer Service feedback form immediately afterwards. I snarked.

Current situation with eBay and picking up the return is the US eBay twitter team have prevailed on the UK side to look into it again. UK eBay's initial response was 'didn't the vendor say they would pick it up in message X', to which my reply was "message X actually says 'OMG you're three hours drive away, I can't do that'" and I'm waiting for a response.

I was explaining this to friends at lunch today and remarked "the only people I could ask are sitting round this table" - one works in London, one isn't really close enough to ask favours of, and in any case spends a lot of time babysitting his grandchild in London when he isn't haring all over the South East ringing bells, one is even less able to carry it than I am, and her husband said "I can do it if you need me to, but it'll have to be this week". It'll have to be 'this week' because next week is when he has his bone-marrow transplant, which is precisely why I'm not asking him under any circumstances!

And it's depressing going back to the old chair, it's so inefficient and uncomfortable and clunky in comparison to the eBay one, even though that was the wrong size :(

And what is it about wheelchairs that terrifies pedestrians? I was wheeling back to the car, someone came out of a doorway a good six feet in front of me, saw me, flinched two feet sideways and said "Sorry!" before giving me a wide berth! I was parked a little further out than usual and the two friends who were heading back that way actually decided to follow me back to the car after I'd said goodbye even though it's off their direct route home. Aw, sweet!

(Edited because apparently my spelling now sucks!)



davidgillon: Illo of Oracle in her manual chair in long white dress with short red hair and glasses (wheelchair)
For the 30th. Thankfully for 1PM rather than some unearthly hour, but with stern warnings that if I'm 15 minutes late I'll lose the appointment (which might be more defensible if it didn't often take half an hour to park in Medway-Maritime's car park!)

My god, Wheelchair Services are prissy compared to the rest of the local healthcare trust, There's about a page of should do's/shouldn't do's for the appointment. I wouldn't care so much if they weren't so blatantly uninterested in delivering an accessible service!
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
 Wheelchair Services finally convinced to assess me 18 months after first approach.

But they won't take my word for my issues, and want evidence from my GPs.

This means sorting out just how screwed up my medical records are just got more urgent, and further complicated by old GP retiring and never having discussed physical disability stuff with the two new GPs.

This week was already going to be busy :(

davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
So I know the new chair is too narrow, but I thought I should take it out and give it a whirl to see how it rides over the places I normally go in order to get some idea of what I can expect from a rigid-framed chair.

Test 0: Get it in the Damned Car
With the wheels off it is just fractionally too wide to fit in the boot space of my car (Toyota Yaris - original model, so size of the current Aygo, not current Yaris), which admittedly is somewhat of a token. With two thirds of the back seat down I can fit it in facing front to rear, with the wheels on, with all of the back seat down, it will fit crossways, which is probably the best option for not blocking the rear view

Test 1: The Cobbles of Death

I needed to get my hair cut, so I parked in my usual spot behind Rochester cathedral and headed into town, the first c200m is pretty much exclusively brick paved road, frequently cut with cobbles (they had the 'brilliant' idea of using cobbles to mark where they've found evidence of the Roman walls, and I'm using the road because the pavement is worse, 'antique' stone slabs with lots of nooks and crannies to catch castors, where it isn't too narrow, or up a 12" kerb). In the clown chair the vibration from the brickwork isn't quite unbearable, but it's definitely getting there, in the GPV the road is almost a non-issue, just a slight rumble, the cobbles were possibly more awkward than usual, but that was partly down to the over-tippiness of the chair in it's current set-up, which is trying to wheelie any chance it gets. The ideal approach is probably to wheelie over the cobbles, but the current tippiness is just too unstable for me to be confident doing that. I did have to stop after about 50m and yank my jacket up above the waist, it was constantly being rubbed by the wheels otherwise.
 

The 200m along the highstreet was annoying, there's enough ornamental slabs and cobbles set into it that you're often catching one caster only and being yanked to the right. OTOH I didn't notice the camber of the pavement this time, which is usually yanking me constantly to the left. Overall, likely a definite improvement once the tippiness is fixed.

So I got my hair cut and headed back. Given the cobbles I decided to head up the other side of the road to the cathedral (which I normally do anyway, I only took the Cathedral side to test it out). That's slightly complicated by the (cobbled) entrance to a pub car park and the side road up to the castle, which does have kerb cuts. The car park entrance turned out to be a nuisance, it needed a slight wheelie to get over the lip back onto the pavement and the cobbles and slope were making it more complicated, plus tippiness, so I grabbed the brick pillar at the side to yank myself up, and the chair flicked around 90 degrees, with one set of wheels on the path, the other on the cobbles. I had to be rescued by a passing pedestrian. 5m later I hit the kerb cut onto the sideroad. Going down is no problem, it works against the tippiness. Going up is more of an issue, it exaggerates the tippiness, the only way to handle it was lean right forward and inch up, which bemused the passing traffic. I was getting noticeably tired by this point, back is slightly uphill and the constantly working against the tippiness was wearing. Given the issue with slopes I went a slightly different route back to the car. That does have one perfectly level section, and it was an absolute delight.

Test 2: PC World
I wanted to look around PC World to see what they had in the way of electric razors (I need to replace the foils and cutters on my existing one and the cost of that isn't much different to a cheap new one). So I parked up, and headed up to the rather long ramp up to the entrance. Tippiness again. I was rather amused by the contrast between the thoroughly Cha'am-accented 'Need a hand, mate?' from the guy behind me, and the Arabic (I think) he was using to his family. Again, on flat surfaces, it's absolutely ideal. OTOH PC World seem to have stopped stocking razors. Bah!

Test 3: Asda
 I needed to do some shopping, so I got the chair out, stuffed my carrier bags between my knees and headed down to where they keep the wheelchair-adapted trolleys. *Headdesk* the GPV is too narrow, just, to engage with the connecting bars. I grabbed a few things I needed using a basket on my knee, and again, flat and smooth is great, but I'm gong to have to go back with the clown chair, which does work with the trolleys, to get the bulky stuff, and wheeling back to the car, slightly uphill, while trying to keep two carriers on my knees was, ahem, interesting.

Household access note:

The path up to my front door has two steps and the kerb at the edge of the drive (plus the typical lipped front door you get from double glazing companies). Getting the GPV down them was a pain. With more practise I might be able to wheelie it, but I went out with crutches and pushing the chair (awkward as it's low-backed and doesn't have push handles). Pushing it forwards probably explains why the paint on the footbar is completely missing, with the castors set towards the rear of their position range the footbar hits first if you just let it roll, tipping it is slightly better. Coming home I had a look at trying to wheelie up the kerb, but chickened out and pushed it in. I really should look at getting the path replaced with a ramp and a kerb cut, but I need to check the building regs on slope and rise height. it may be just too high to do in a straight run.

And once in the house I went pretty much straight to bed and slept for six hours (which was more to do with not sleeping well last night than anything else).

Conclusions:
All the signs are there that a rigid framed chair will be massively better for me. Transport will be slightly more of a nuisance (unless I manage to get an L-shaped frame that can sit on the passenger seat with the wheels off). The GPV, though, is just too narrow. I could tolerate it for a couple of hours as I did today, longer I don't know, I'll experiment tomorrow. But the catching on clothes just emphasizes it isn't practical to keep it. And equally several issues I might have tolerated if it was as-advertised - solid treadless tyres on the main wheels, front castors needing new tyres/castors imminently - just add to the not this one feel. I'll open an issue with Ebay's resolution system saying 'not as advertised' in the morning. Postage was £50, so after refunding me and paying for return postage, they're going to be £100 out of pocket on a £200 item. If they offered me £100 off I might consider keeping it as a temporary chair I can use until I lay my hands on something better. Most of the issues with handling are the tippiness, which just needs the axle shifting. I don't have the torque wrenches needed, but I suspect my next door neighbour will have, and if I'm willing to wait a few weeks until my next trip to Durham, I'm absolutely certain my brother-in-law will either have them himself or will be able to borrow them from one of his friends in the garage trade.

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davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
David Gillon

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