I was asked by many of you to do a post all about HOW I chose my wheelchair as lets face it – its not an easy task!
If you haven’t read my review yet check it out here- Review: Z-Tec M-Brand D-Lite Self Propelled Wheelchair
Marina- my wheelchair- is a Z-Tec M-Brand D-Lite Self Propelled Wheelchair.
But huge confession – It wasnt the one I originally wanted.
Ok so rewind to last year when I was advised to look at getting my own wheels as the whole NHS wheelchair list thing was … complicated with me (which is a story in itself).
Step 1- Make a checklist.
A top tip – from me to you- Know what you need the chair to do and what you want.
Sounds simple enough, and I thought it was going to be so easy. I needed a wheelchair for independence and that folded- simple right?- but when it came to it, it was just so more complex than I had imagined!
Terms like attendant and selfpropelled and transit completley baffeled me.
To me, a wheelchair was a wheelchair, and as long as it folded we were cool.
But oh no – no, theres millions of things to consider! like seat size, user weight, wheelchair weight, dimensions, brakes etc etc.
I asked on support sites, chatted to physios & other medical people and spoke to practically every manual wheelchair user I knew to get an idea of what to look out for, what to avoid and any recommendations etc.
I then made this checklist –
- compact fold to fit a variety of car boots!
- light weight
- not to bulky
- not ugly
Step 2- RESEARCH RESEARCH AND MORE RESEARCH!
The research process was…interesting.
After talking to all the people previously mentioned, I googled and googled and googled. I spent hours and hours a day looking at the limited specs of online sites for wheelchairs.
I eventually managed to narrow the thousands and thousands of chairs I had found down to a list of about 30.
I then rang various companies to find out more about the ones on my shortlist.
I then narrowed the list down to about 15.
After a lot of research – and I mean A LOT – I knew what I was looking for and what chairs I was looking for.
Step 3- Try BEFORE you buy.
A mobility shop, that wasn’t that far from me and I didnt even know existed, that I had somehow found stocked all of the chairs on my shortlist.
So one day after college, I went to the shop and I had a chat with the women who worked there, and they very kindly let me try out EVERY SINGLE WHEELCHAIR IN THE SHOP THAT MATCHED MY CHECKLIST!
I eventually had a shortlist of 3- Marina was one of them, but so was another more expensive deluxe z tec wheelchair and a ‘swift’ wheelchair.
Step 4- Dont buy in store, buy online
I tried out all of the wheelchairs in store, narrowed it down to 3, came home and found them on a site called Essential Aids.com and ordered through them.
I also ordered a seat belt when buying my chair, and they fitted it for me bless them.
Step 5- Embrace it like a friend.
Getting a wheelchair and using one is not really a ‘choice’ . However, it doesnt have to be the elephant in the room or a thing to fear. Embrace it. Name it (makes it less scary!). Customise it. Just dont fear it, because its to help you, not hinder you.
As a little ending bit- I’ll tell you why I ended up buying Marina, and why It worked out better for getting my “2nd choice”.
So, the one I went for orriginally was the more expensive one- it was beautifully red and looked really comfy. I was truly gutted when the woman rang me to tell me they had stopped stocking them and sold the last one 20 minutes before I placed my order.
We then ordered my second choice.
Oddly, I had never considered attendant brakes or removable foot plates. These things Marina has but the red expensive one didnt!
All things happen for a reason eh!