I spent at least 12 hours sitting in the wheelchair yesterday--that was overdoing it and I am a little (!) sore today, but wow...My arms are sore because I helped so much in the kitchen yesterday. The strategy of moving a towel and cutting board, then mixing bowls, to my lap really helped, especially as now I sit lower (so I can get under tables). It was amazing to be up and around the whole time my friends were here yesterday. I worried at first that the back wasn't high enough, not seeing that the chair sits so much lower that the back *is* much higher. But it's not. It's fine. (Wait, twelve hours sitting up? Plus more time fully reclined?)
I am very grateful to have the new wheelchair now, as our new insurance that starts this week will only cover $2500 on DME. The delay after the approval stemmed from our attempt to get the power elevating legrests covered--we had to pay for those out-of-pocket ($2800), as our policy considers that to be a comfort item only, though the tilt-in-space and recline functions were covered. But having my legs elevated relieves my low back pain as nothing else can. Though I debated not getting the power function, I am *very* glad I did, as I make continual adjustments for pain relief all day--or have to put myself back upright to turn corners--I could not do that as I need to otherwise, and it's too painful to leave my legs down. The power function really is essential.
Everything seems to be working well and I'm not even thinking about pain! The wheelchair lift in the van needs a bit of recalibration or adjustment as it's balky right as it hits the lip of the van and requires leaning against it (not a lot of effort but may create some bruising). But the wheelchair is within its capacity (350 lbs.). It takes a lot of adjustments to get it in--I have to lower the footplates, lower the backrest just right, remove the armrest and settle it down, use the transit ties to prevent shifting (as it will; the scooter would not). Though this should get faster over time, if I take any quick runs anywhere (five minutes into a store or the kids' school) I may use the scooter. And I will plan carefully on my own--many short trips will mean too much standing for me sometimes. Long-term dream: van conversion.
If we had a van conversion, I would have ordered drop-in legrests rather than footplates for better adjusting and to keep my legs a little wider/relieve back pain. I do have to exert a lot of muscle energy to keep my legs on the plates--not only because of lack of muscle strength, but because my hips turn out very well naturally (thanks to years of ballet that made this position more natural for me--my feet always turn to the side if I lie on my back or when I used to sit on the floor). The solution: I do need to get abductor pads for the chair (or is it adduction?--the ones on the sides of the thighs); the supplier had mentioned this before, but we'd hoped the Supracor cushion (not in the demo) would channel my legs enough--I've also been far more limited in the past few months since the seating. Hopefully I can get these covered under the new insurance, though our medical reimbursement account can help with that extra expense. But this is liveable for now, especially as I remain pretty comfortable. And with the abductor pads, I won't need the drop-in legrests at all. I am not keen on having them but am also not keen on exerting a lot of continued strength--though my muscles may improve in this way over time. When I'm reclined, I push my feet underneath the footrests for now--there's a space to do so. I also know some exercises that can help.
The wheelchair is much more responsive than the scooter, so I am extremely cautious near curbs and turns. I'm learning how to balance between stopping the chair and moving the chair too slowly to negotiate around an object and on the other hand, trying to maintain speed in anything other than a straight line; I may look a bit drunk or really uncoordinated as I get going sometimes. Reversing feels difficult/counterintuitive because the back casters move independently, but I'm improving. It still makes me a bit nervous. But I don't need to reverse much since I can turn myself around as a walking person would do--scooters require a lot of backing up since there's often not room to turn them around. I can hold a cup of coffee (carefully!) as I cannot do on the scooter--both hands are needed for control when reversing or making a tight turn, I find. Channeling the chair between narrow doorframes is still difficult at times and I worry about hitting doors or bumping pedestrians (I try to give space).
We went out to a movie today (more on it tomorrow, I hope) and "walked" for a mile and half. It did not feel that far! I don't even notice bumps and cracks in the sidewalk--so much easier on my spine. When we went to a movie a few weeks ago, I was only able to go to the movie (the movie seat was more comfortable for me, so I sat there) and very briefly to a game store my son wanted to visit; it also took me a long time afterward to recover from this outing. What a difference to sit in my chair four hours, with only a little leg pain.
I am far more able to sit up (better for me, higher heart rate and better for my urological issues) and can do more physical tasks--though they are more difficult in a wheelchair because of reach and access; even clearing clutter takes a lot more effort, many times more. I am more active, not less active, in my wheelchair. I think I look better in it, though I did not think this would be the case. My posture is where it should be rather than slumped around to avoid pressure on some joints, and I'm not in pain.