Transitioning to My First Electric Wheelchair
Last updated: June 2023
I’ve been using my new Permobil wheelchair for just about a month now. The last few months that I was using my scooter became a little more difficult. I’ve been having some issues with upper body strength and trying to steer my scooter was exhausting at times. Knowing that my new wheelchair was on its way actually made me excited.
I didn't expect to feel so excited
That excitement was not something that I was expecting as I transitioned from a scooter to an electric wheelchair. Thinking back to my teen years when I got my first scooter I still remember that feeling of anger. No one ever wants to be different. Living with a disability like SMA and having to rely on wheelchairs or scooters always made me feel different.
Features that give me back my independence
Leading up to the delivery day I was watching a lot of videos that other people have posted about their wheelchairs, especially Permobils. All of the extra functionality is what excited me. This chair can fully recline. I can get my feet above my head. There are so many seating positions. Knowing that I will be able to adjust myself without having to rely on anyone gave me back some of my independence.
We also had to prepare our van by removing the passenger seat and buying a set of retractable tie downs. Sitting in the wheelchair and using the tie downs was a brand new experience for me. I was surprised at how secure the tie downs felt. This is also going to be a huge relief for Suzanne as she has been lifting me into the passenger seat for the last few years.
I'm getting more comfortable with my disability as I grow older
The day I picked it up from the physical therapist’s office was a good day. I guess the older I get the more comfortable I am with my disability. We arrived at the office before the vendor. A few minutes later the vendor came in with my new chair. He spent about 15 minutes showing me how to use everything. I was chomping at the bit to just get in it.
Once Suzanne transferred me into the new chair I started experimenting with all of the recline functions. At first it was a weird feeling because it felt like I was going to tip the whole chair over. Once I found a comfortable seating position I started driving it around the office. I found it very easy to use the joystick. This was a huge improvement over trying to steer the scooter.
A great chair for tight spaces
The first thing I noticed was how much better the maneuverability was. Being able to turn around in place is really nice. I am able to navigate tighter spaces with more ease. The last few years I have been needing some assistance to steer in tight spaces. That is no longer an issue. The wheelchair is a lot more comfortable than my old scooter. The wheelchair was custom built to suit me. That scooter didn’t have that option.
The only negative so far is how high I sit in the chair. Going out to eat has been a little more difficult. I’m probably 6 or 7 inches higher than my manual chair. I am trying to find different seating cushions that will fix this issue. Don’t be afraid to embrace change. I know that it can be difficult at first but you won’t know if something is better until you try.
I’m glad that I finally got my new chair.
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