Thursday, March 5, 2009

Do These Tires Make My Scooter Look Big?

You know I keep getting a lot of comments from strangers about the size of the tires on the Amigo RD. It's true that the Amigo RT, with much smaller tires and a more streamlined base, would have also been a good fit and met my needs. It would have given me the leg room I needed but saved 2 inches in length. However, the two are about the same price and I like outdoor activities. The RD handles gravel, grass, and rough pavement far better, and I'd already had trouble with cracks in the sidewalk and rugs with the Pride GoGo. Other scooter users also told me to go with larger tires for the sake of my spine/smoother ride. So really it's what I need, and the wheels aren't bigger than what you'd get on a power chair. I have seen 4-wheel scooters with giant tires, and this just isn't in the same department. While yes, they're larger than the tires most seniors (and the rest of us playing the DME waiting game) get on the cheapo scooters, I go a lot of places and intend to go more places. The RD also has more underbody clearance, and I've learned that every bit of that which I can get improves access and prevents me from getting "caught" and unable to move.

I like to go to Renaissance fairs with rough terrain, I like to go hiking as far as I can with it, I like to go camping, I like to go to art and other festivals outside. I don't go around telling other people that their shoes look like army vehicles or that their butt looks street ready. It makes me feel clumsy, awkward, and loutish, sitting there on my army tank scooter. I am female and indicating that anything about me is way too big or industrial or unfashionable hurts my feelings. As far as scooters go, I think it's good looking.

While the RT's smaller black wheels may look more feminine and go better with a fancy dress, I'd like to get where I want to go on my own terms. And while the GoGo really does coordinate well with business attire, I prefer to have my pain further reduced and not have my long legs cramped up. While fashion is a partial consideration for me, comfort is more so. It's adaptive equipment, not an accessory that can be changed.
I do pay attention to physics, and some similar scooters by other brands that might be slightly more visually appealing or have that handy back pocket have lengths slightly too long to get on bus lifts, turning radiuses of 41" (36" is specified by ADA, mine is 33" and almost as good as the tiny GoGo). The tiller adjusts at my hands, so that I can move it as I need while I'm sitting, rather than at the base. It has a headlight, useful at night. It keeps my hair from standing up. The swivel seat can stay unlocked so I can move freely without assistance from someone else and at a variety of angles rather than 90 degree settings. The controllers don't tire my hands like the continual push buttons on the go go did. I can use either hand to drive it (left side up=reverse, but I can push it down to go forward). The seat isn't bricklike and painful but decent and can accept alternate cushions, which I may need. The basket can be removed so it's out of the way in restaurants or occasions. It has good securing points if I move and use public transportation. The platform is nonslip slightly rough surface (great post-swimming). The heavy battery does not have to be removed--the scooter has a plug on the back and can be plugged in anywhere without carrying an adapter. The design is thoughtful and evolves over time as the company gets feedback from users.

Anytime I use equipment out in the world at first, I can be insecure, and so when my first feedback implies aesthetic hugeness, I don't feel more secure, though I know it's exactly what I need and want. I had to wait 10 months for her, almost like a pregnancy. As soon as I tried out the demo model, I knew that's exactly what I needed. I'm fond of her. She was carefully selected and much loved.


yanub said...

What is going on in some people's heads to make comments regarding someone's wheelchair or scooter? Your comparing such action to someone making comments on a stranger's shoes is apt. It's just plain rude!

FridaWrites said...

LOL, I don't know. Sometimes I think when things are quiet people feel awkward and they feel compelled to say something. Unfortunately, sometimes it's not the most helpful thing.

This doesn't happen very regularly, but I did realize it's one of the things that does make me uncomfortable with it sometimes, so decided to write about it.

william Peace said...

Great entry! It never ceases to amaze me how people that know nothing about wheelchairs or in your case a scooter are so free with inane an intrusive comments. Your scooter and my wheelchair are adaptive devices that empower us--a point that is utterly lost on others who focus on aesthetics alone. Once in a while when in NYC I get an interesting comment. Last month I was on the side walk waiting for a red light to turn green when I noticed a guy giving my wheelchair a careful examination out of the corner of his eye. I stared back at him and he smiled and said "I'm impressed, Phil Woods hubs are the best" and he then moved on. This sort of exchange makes me think there is hope for society as my wheelchair does indeed have the best hubs money can buy. The point here is don't worry or lose any sleep over what people think of your scooter. Most have no idea what they are talking about and value that rare exchange such as the one I had.

FridaWrites said...

Thanks, William. I can tell among types of scooters and who's done research or had some help. I'm also starting to be able to tell among types of wheelchairs, and I hope no one's permanently disabled in some of the temporary equipment, though some probably are. Actually, I know one who is.

I wonder if that guy was an OT or has a relative with a disability.

When I went by to talk to the other woman at work who uses a scooter in my first one, her coworkers remarked that she needed a smaller one like mine. I quickly let them know that I actually needed a bigger one like hers!

william Peace said...

Frida, The guy who commented on my hubs was an avid biker. OTs an PTs would never have noticed this--they would be far more interested in how I was sitting!

I find it humorous the divide between scooters and wheelchairs. Some people that use scooters think there is a giant difference between a scooter and a wheelchair. And I have been corrected more than once when I referred to a scooter as an electric wheelchair. No insult was intended but it was taken as an afront.

FridaWrites said...

Oh, your hubs are good bike hubs--that's a great idea to use products from other markets to expand options.

This is interesting--I'm one of those people who doesn't take affront, but it's maybe because of disability consciousness and knowing I experience the same obstacles as people in wheelchairs do. Many scooter users are in wheelchair denial--i.e., don't want to be considered disabled.

To me it serves the same function--and whether the hand control is on a tiller in front of me or on an armrest--there's not a lot of distinction. Of course, good wheelchair seating is a lot better than scooter seating.

To many, a scooter implies more ability to walk, though I've known a scooter user who couldn't walk at all and one who barely could. Maybe some people are worried about being taken as more disabled than they are (people do question why you need equipment sometimes)--if I used a wheelchair, that would be a concern since people can be reactive.

I have to admit it's more emotional for me to try out a power wheelchair but I realize that's because of social baggage and earlier experience, even while my intellect recognizes the similarities; in many ways a power wheelchair would work better for me, but I don't currently have DME covered.

william Peace said...

Frida, I have not dealt with a wheelchair company in two decades. The products manufactured by such companies is grossly inferior and over priced. My frame gets painted by a Harley Davidson guy, the wheels are done at the local bike shop, and upholstery by a yacht builder. This is pain in the neck to coordinate but saves a veritable fortune. I have three wheelchair frames the oldest of which is 20+ years old.

I agree a scooter implies an ability to walk. Scooters seem popular with older folks and I have learned to never ever refer to a scooter as a wheelchair. Who says marketing does not work and influence people!

FridaWrites said...

OK, now I am sorely tempted to see how they'd react to another scooter user sitting in the same equipment referring to them as wheelchairs. This wouldn't matter with the 3 I know, they're too saavy (and 2 also use regular wheelchairs), but in general...hmm.

If I'm asking about access I always say wheelchair because otherwise people will misunderstand or overestimate my abilities or what it can do.

Lisa Moon said...

Interesting! I find when I say scooter, people aren't sure what I'm talking about...

With me, it's doubly odd; before my injury, I drove an all-electric scooter - the motorcycle kind! People would think my saying scooter meants it was an electic bike with pedals and a battery-assist system, so I'd always explain it.

Now I find myself trying to explain that I've gone from one type of scooter to another - a very large difference! And yes, as the dealer worried, I did notice speed (hard to miss 5MPH vs. 35MPH!) but I also can't miss being able to drive INTO a mall, grocery store or where ever I might need to go.

Apparently there is much in a name!

As for you scooter, the picture shows to me a good combination of a mid-sized, practical and attractive choice. It doesn't look clunky to me, in fact it looks like it's small enough to fit most places you'd need to go while still offering comfort. The seat looks like it might fold down for transport, too?

The other day I met a couple of friends for coffee. One asked if I had a choice in colour for my scooter, which is a lovely shade I call 'dark, metallic cherry' as burgundy does NOT do it justice and the shade isn't quite that... brownish.

Anyway, I explained that when I ordered it through the distributor, I was told there was no colour choice on that model. Burdundy it was to be. Oh, well. However, when they received it, they found that the model they though I'd be getting was superceded, so I received a higher-end model, with great new suspension (YAY!) and the shade was a much prettier colour (I noted this, they did not. What can I say, I'm a 'girl'?!).

Anyway, turns out, like the brochure had shown, I COULD have had the choice of blue, silver or red, as they plainly described them. Of course, for me, I'd have jumped at the chance for silver - after all, it's 'neutral' and goes with everything!

But since my 'red' isn't that blah burgundy, but that pretty 'dark, metallic cherry' colour, I just try and let that missed chance for choice go... it's the wondering if I should have opted for an electric wheelchair which bothers me, lol! (pros: fits better in many places, excellent turning ability for buses, etc,; cons: nothing to protect my hypersensitive-painful CRPS leg from accidental touching).

OH! And under 'useful', unsolicited comments, my favourite was in my post about my first bus trip, when some guy, after watching me try to turn around on the bus to park, yells out 'You need one of those electric wheelchairs! They turn around like *that*!' Yeah, thanks, buddy.

You almost knocked me off my chair with "their butt looks street ready" - I'm still cackling! :D

FridaWrites said...

Yeah, I'd forgotten about that comment on the bus. If only people knew the decisions involved (or what responsible parties will/won't pay for) or how really expensive they are (about 3x as much for decent power chair, minimum, without a lot of extras).

Like you, I can experience a lot of pain from people running into me--it hadn't occurred to me that the scooter provides more protection from that, but it does. It's not perfect and people will still grab or lean, but it helps provide some distance. It's also good to be able to swivel sideways and put my legs down to stretch a little. I can move my body more to stretch/change positions (difficult for me to do).

Metallic cherry sounds nice--I shy away from fire truck red, but that sounds sophisticated. I waffled about green since it's my favorite color, but blue goes with more and I wanted slightly different shade of green--they can match colors from automotive paint chips, but I found mine for $1000 off and so went standard. A friend had the Amigo champagne color and it was a lovely neutral.

Yes, my seat folds down for transport, gives me a more visibility while driving. The platform's 43 inches, I think.

Not even my mom understood what I meant when I talked about a scooter. "Oh, I call them 'carts,'" she says, and though she's not this way, that's the way a lot of people treat me in stores.

FridaWrites said...

So, do you like your wheelchair? ;) lol