This weekend was my first weekend on my mobility scooter, now named 'Poppy' (because she allows me to pop into town or pop round to a friend's house etc, plus she's currently red). The freedom is AMAZING.
Sitting in a wheelchair for trips out felt very mixed- it was good to be getting out but I felt self conscious, 'disabled' and like I had totally lost my autonomy and independence. As I've probably mentioned a ridiculous number of times so far on this blog (apologies if so), my independence is something I really value very highly. I liked the reduced pain of being in a wheelchair for trips out, but didn't like the wheelchair-ness.
Poppy has solved this. I needed a solution because I needed to be able to go places alone and couldn't be reliant on others all the time, but my walking was deteriorating and becoming increasingly painful, and I can't self-propel because my arms would end up as naff as my legs. Poppy is the best solution ever. I thought it was impossible for me to get a mobility scooter because I live in an upstairs flat, with a step up to the front door, a narrow hallway and then a steep flight of stairs. Doesn't shout accessible, does it? Unless you've already seen a photo of the infamous poppy, you're probably wondering what the answer was.. A TravelScoot from TravelScoot.eu ! A really wonderful invention. I asked so many questions before buying it (from Germany, but they're available all over- click on the flags at the top of his website if you're looking at this blog from other countries) but the inventor was very patient with me! So far, it seems to be a fantastic decision, everything has been going very smoothly (apart from a slight mishap with my parents' door frame- turns out the back of a 3-wheeled scooter is wider than the front.. Peculiar ;) lol, so they've got a nice chip as a momento of my first proper trip out on Poppy- sorry Dad).
The afternoon I got home, I put poppy together very easily and wizzed up and down the pavement outside the house- awesome- haven't moved so fast in a long time!
My dog came for a ride sat on my knee and then I went out several times with him the next day, taking over the lead once he was more used to it. Today me and my dog went out for the first time just us for a very long time- it was brilliant. He did turn around and look for my parents quite a few times and had to be encouraged to keep going a couple of times but by the time we were on our way back I think he was contributing to my forward momentum to a greater extent than my battery! Lol.
On Saturday I did shops for the first time on a scooter- a much more pleasant experience than in a wheelchair- I could go wherever I wanted, look at whatever I wanted and didn't end up positioned just in front of something interesting to look at, as inevitably happens in a wheelchair, despite your driver's best intentions. It was also so, so, so much better than shuffling around in agony, having to be incredibly careful to go down the right isle and being devastated when something is the far end of the shop. On the scooter I could just BROWSE- a word that hasn't existed for me for a long time now. It didn't bother me that things were a long way away, and if we had to go back to close to where we had just been when we started looking for something else, it didn't feel like some divine power was trying to slowly murder me, I was just pleased to practice my manoeuvring!
Putting her in the car to take her out and about was easy- without the battery attached lifting the scooter in and out of the car is a doddle- and even with the battery it is perfectly doable, even by me- I just put the handlebars down and lifted her in! (Did have to tighten the seat clamp because it fell off a couple of times when lifting by the seat but that was very easily sorted!). I put the parking brakes on each time to stop her rolling about in the boot and then forgot to take them off each time and couldn't work out why she wasn't moving.. Oops. At the station today I reached the edge of a section of pavement with no dropped kerb so just hopped off, lifted her down and jumped back on, simple as- my Dad laughed and said it was just like the advert ;)
I've fixed a bike lock to her, she has a poppy (what else!) attached to the front, and smiley face reflectors stuck on her (mostly for safety, but they make it look younger too). I also have some red ribbon at the ready for when I decide further customising is required ;)
I also braved public transport today for the first time. I was unnecessarily nervous. Assistance turned up as booked, and no-one ran off with any of my scooter parts. I think in future I'm going to lock the main frame to something (probably the train handle) for peace of mind, and then take the seat with me and put it in the over-head racks. The battery slotted into the front pocket of my case fine, although I might take that with me in future too. It might not always be necessary to fold it down- today was BUSY- but in future I'll feel more confident about what I'm doing anyway. I must say that everyone was lovely- I had so many offers for help with my case, an offer to help set up my scoot, a lady on the train said it looked like fun, the assistance lady was lovely and called it dainty, everyone in the taxi queue let me go ahead of them and one of them smiled and said he'd rather like one, and the taxi rank guy even asked whether I wanted to sell it to him- he got a definite no! I folded Poppy up and she fitted in the boot of a normal saloon taxi, along with a large suitcase, with no difficulty at all. SUCCESS!
She is now folded up, stood up in the corner of our hallway, with the seat on the bottom stair, battery is upstairs fully charged. I'm ready for more adventures tomorrow!!
I'm starting to think I should have bought one of these a long time ago- yes my bank balance hurts, but my legs are a lot less painful and the world suddenly seems far more accessible to me and much less daunting! Obviously it's very early days but at the moment Poppy is my absolute hero :)