Monday, November 2, 2015

The Wheelchair in a box

I've had a surprise coming in earlier this week. A new set of wheels (and a shiny, white frame). My parents decided to upgrade my ride, stuck it a box and sent it through UPS. It took it an extra day or two to get here, because the delivery service after reading the description of "invalid carriage, not mechanically propelled", decided to clear it through the FDA. I guess a wheelchair still primarily is a medical device, rather than a sit with four wheels, used to move it around. It was quite stressful waiting for it to arrive while I was arguing a motion on a case in Palm City and working on putting together a fundraiser in November. I must say I'm really excited. It's only my second day in it, but it's clean, bright, it has that feeling of "new". It's like a toy, and at the same time it feels very stylish. I'm changing brands. This time - we went American. I'm replacing my Swiss Kuschall with a TiLite. I never thought a chair can make me feel this good and fashionable, but it did. Now I feel I need to make a little more effort dressing up just to match. But that's the thing. I always said a wheelchair can be a cool and stylish accessory. And this is mine. I've used my Kuschall for eleven years. I've been a fan of the brand for about fifteen. It's now torn, scratched, beaten down and patched up in places and it looks miserable. For the last few months I was practically sitting on the bottom frame support bar. 11 years ago Kuschall was my brand of choice, the one I requested by name as this is what I used in Poland. The City of Gainesville replaced my other one after a city bus run me over while I was crossing the street. And for the longest time I loved the look, the feel and the color as it became the symbol of my independence.

 But I've had some problems with it. It's no longer widely offered to individual customers in the United States. Finding replacement parts was always a challenge as it used its own irregular sized bolts and screws. Having things fixed was expensive and time consuming as everything had to be ordered and shipped somewhere. Rule of thumb- if you live in the United States, it might not be a bad idea to get a US build chair. It's a high end brand-  I love it. It maneuvers effortlessly, it's smooth and fast.  It will take a few days to figure out the mechanics of steering it, as the physics is a little different. It's lighter, it gives me less resistance so I need to hold it back more. Otherwise I run into things.

I only wish I've made an unboxing video. I'm proud to say I unpacked it all myself. The box looked so tiny that I thought my parents got the size wrong, how could it possibly fit? Then I had to get out of all the bubble wrap and what seemed to be sticky food wrap tied around the frame like bandages on a mummy. It has a few pockets for storage and I know it will serve me well. But  most of all, it's a new chair for a new chapter.

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