Unlike getting a new car, house or pair of shoes, getting a new wheelchair is so not fun. You’d think it would be … the ordering, the anticipation, the new chair smell. But when your new chair arrives, you realize how un-fun it actually is. Reason being, it feels completely foreign.
It’s too easy to forget how long it took you to get comfortable in your current chair. Most likely it was years ago, and you put it out of your memory because of its annoying unpleasantness, but it can take a long while, a real long while, to feel supremely comfortable in a wheelchair, and getting a new chair brings all of that back.
All of this is on my brain because I received my fourth new powerchair since my injury about eight months ago, and crazily it’s still not comfortable. This is the longest and most difficult adjustment period I’ve actually ever experienced with a new chair, and I’m not sure the culprit to blame.
Maybe it’s true, the new medical equipment being made right now is shoddier than ever, or perhaps, just perhaps, I’m getting pickier with age. I do know what I love more than ever, so it’s hard to say.
The big thing that matters right now is that I have to finally get my chair to the comfort level I need. I’ve already wasted too much time and gas money driving around on a wild goose chase trying to get my chair comfortable.
The slough of adjustments I’ve already had are insane: adjusting the back rest angle, lowering the cane handles, swapping out the armrests because of their sharp edges, and the biggest one — widening the chair.
Yup, I made the grave mistake of ordering a more narrow chair without thinking of the repercussions, how it might affect everything and it’s my worst mistake ever. I had lost weight, so it seemed to make sense, but my chair now fits me so much like a glove, that I hate it. It’s so tight I can’t get my hand behind my ass to adjust how I sit.
In retrospect, I really wish I’d had the forethought to see how a more narrow chair can affect so much — balance and seat mobility namely — but unfortunately I learned the hard way. Now, all we can do is try some jerry-rig solution to get as much extra seat width as possible … and it may not work. If that happens, back to the wheelchair plant it goes.
The lesson here is — never underestimate the power of a comfortable wheelchair. Once you’ve found it, hold onto it like a cherished toy and if you are up for a new chair, think wisely before ordering.
Figure out exactly what you like in your old chair first, everything that helps you be independent and then replicate it as much as you can in your new chair. That’s the best thing you can do.
What helps you get comfortable in a new wheelchair?