We have begun the process to get Namine a new wheelchair. Often long and arduous, this can (and has) taken up to two years to complete. Last time, the completely wrong chair was assembled and delivered — forcing us to repeat the process. We sincerely hope that does not happen again.
In the meantime, Namine still has to use the chair she has, which is broken in several ways. Techs from the wheelchair company have tried to fix it; we have tried to fix it; and all attempts have failed, if not actually made the chair worse. While we wait for the new chair to come, Namine has been given a loaner.
In some ways, the loaner wheelchair matches up with how things will be once Namine gets her new chair. The loaner, along with her new chair, are taller. There is actually only an inch or two of height difference, but that small amount makes a big difference when you’re talking about sitting at her desk, the kitchen table, or the piano. That height difference also meant larger wheels, but Namine did not notice a big difference in wheeling around. She took it for a test drive around the house to make sure it wasn’t too tall — and it’s not.
The loaner is also wider than her current chair, so Namine’s test drive also had to include turning in the hallways and getting in and out of the office. In her current chair, she already has to come backwards out of the office — due to the tight corner in the entrance. As long as she removes the amputee pad prior to doing so, none of that is a problem.
One more difference — which Namine did not notice until she went down and back up the ramp in the garage — was the weight. The loaner is significantly heavier than her current chair. She had to use the rail to pull herself up the ramp, as she also discovered that the wheels do not have the grip she’s used to. Compounding on that is the fact that these tires are filled with air, not solid.
The loaner will take some getting used to, especially since some of its features — like the collapsible frame and air tires — indicate that it’s a transport chair rather than the kind intended for everyday use.
All told, we’re happy to have started the process to get Namine a new wheelchair. It will involve far more people as it moves along, from therapists and doctors to insurance agents. The former want her to have this; they know she’s outgrown her current chair. The latter do not, typically, react favorably to requests for new equipment. Regardless of how long it will take, we are prepared to fight for what Namine needs. She has a lot of awesome people on her side, not the least of whom are her parents.