Six Months With My First Power Chair

It has been six months since I started using my first power wheelchair. Over the last 28 years, I used an electric scooter to get around.

The biggest reason for the scooter was due to my vanity. The scooter made me feel less disabled than using a power wheelchair. My appearance is and has always been very important to me. When I was younger and physically able I would iron all of my clothes, jeans included.

Letting go

Over the years as my disability with spinal muscular atrophy took more and more of my strength and independence, I had to give up on my neurotic ways. However, the scooter was not something that I was willing to give up.

As I lost my ability to drive I needed help getting into the passenger seat of my van. This was not easy for Suzanne, my partner and caregiver, or me. She would have to pick me up in order to get me into the van. This was starting to become more difficult for both of us.

It also limited our ability to get out as much as we wanted. I knew that I needed to come to terms with the fact that a power chair would be beneficial for both of us and help us enjoy life more.

Using the scooter was getting harder

Using the scooter was also getting more difficult because I was losing arm strength. Trying to steer in tight areas became frustrating.

The power wheelchair has been life-changing

The new power chair has been life-changing in more ways than one. The biggest reward has been the ease it gives Suzanne and me to get out. Not having to lift me and possibly hurting her back is the best reward.

The chair is also much more comfortable for me. Having the ability to recline and move myself into multiple positions throughout the day has given me a new sense of independence.

The power chair is also a lot easier for me to drive compared to the scooter. I am able to navigate tight spaces and don’t find myself getting fatigued while driving. Being able to drive it into the van and locking it in place makes life much easier for both Suzanne and me. Transferring multiple times a day resulted in always having to readjust my clothes. That doesn’t happen as much anymore.

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Some drawbacks to the power chair

Now the parts I don’t like. I have seen pictures of myself and I sometimes cringe. I feel I look more disabled than I used to and that’s not always easy for me. 

The other obstacle that I have encountered is eating out at a restaurant. These power chairs sit a lot higher than my scooter did. The extra height makes it harder for me to eat independently when we eat out. I value my independence and I want to do things on my own. Now when we go out for dinner I use my manual chair. However, sometimes we will decide to grab a bite while we are out with the power chair and that makes things more difficult.

Overall the new chair has been a positive experience. Like most things, nothing is ever perfect and I am learning to adapt. I am trying not to let my vanity ruin my experiences. That’s always a work in progress.

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