Wednesday, May 9, 2007
It's finally here. After six months of waiting I think it was all rather anti-climactic for us. We wanted to get pictures up right away but technical difficulties combined with very busy life delayed things.
First, Joseph. He loves the chair but it took a couple days to get there. It goes VERY fast on hard surfaces which is a bit frightening. When we're out and about he doesn't stray more than a few feet from us--at least not yet. In the apartment he is very comfortable, partly because our thick carpeting makes the chair almost impossible to maneuver. He can do it, though, and he's discovering lots of fun things that were out of reach before. The mobile stander gets him up high, but he can't lean out of that very easily to get a book off the shelf, for example. He's learning to get in and out of the chair from the floor. He can get out pretty well on his own by just scooting his bottom forward and sliding down. He still needs supervision, but he can't unbuckle his seatbelt independently, so we always know when he's going to be jumping down. He's sill building the muscles needed to climb in and once he has that down he can learn to transfer from the chair to the couch or his bed.
Second, the rest of us. It's a big adjustment all around. We've taken him out a bit to public places. Reactions to seeing a two-year-old in a wheelchair have ranged from curiosity to looks of horror to pointing and laughing (loudly). We're trying to take it all in stride. The small front casters on the chair light up pretty wildly when the chair goes fast, so we assume people are laughing at that. I think it will be a long, long transition to Joseph using the chair all the time. Partly, he just doesn't have the stamina to wheel himself all the way to church (which isn't far) and he doesn't have the awareness to not crash into people. We're still working on, "Don't run over your sister." Also, we have a very pedestrian lifestyle now, and taking two kids out with Joseph in the wheelchair means Margaret always on my back and limited ability to carry anything else (like groceries).
Finally, because I know some of you are very curious about such things. The chair is made of titanium and is lightweight--until you add on all the features a wheelchair needs (like a seat and tires). It weighs about 25 pounds. It comes apart . . . sort of. We've found that putting in the trunk in one piece is easier and takes up less space (though we may have to look into buying a station wagon before our next trip to New England). The chair has stroller handles for pushing that come off easily. The chair could last 3-5 years--which is good because a new manual wheelchair costs roughly the same as a new compact car.
Good things in Joseph's life. The braces and walker are progressing as well. A hand-powered trike is on its way. Yesterday we were at our semi-annual all-day appointment at Children's Hospital where Joseph got a clean bill of health. We almost saw Queen Elizabeth. We had great seats, but had to leave before she arrived to go to our appointment. But, we were only a few feet away from her all afternoon. Oh, well.