Today my hubby drove me over to the Exeter Disability Centre (the wheelchair suppliers) again. I got my NHS wheelchair voucher paperwork in the post today, so I was now in a position to make a final decision on the chair and get it ordered.
Last time we went, I had more or less decided on the Kuschall one, but having had time to think about it, I decided I really did want the Quickie Helium, my original choice, and after lengthy discussion with these 2 gentlemen, and also with Mark at Wheelchair Services, this is what I am going for, and I think it is going to be a good choice. Both the EDC chaps and Mark have contacted the manufacturer (Sunrise Medical) and it appears that the frame strength issues have now been ironed out, and one or two other teething problems, and although it’s not as robust as many, with the sort of treatment it will receive from me as a part-time user, not pushing it to extreme limits, there’s no reason why it won’t be perfectly fine, despite the added weight of the power system. It's very cool and compact, and has the sort of optional extras that I wanted. Here’s the picture of it again:
The two gentlemen completed the lengthy order form, after a lot of measuring and asking me what options I wanted etc. - you have the basic wheelchair frame of a specific measurement to suit you, and then you choose everything else from a range of options, e.g. there are several different wheel styles, front castors, sides, upholstery etc. etc. Some things don't cost extra but others cost considerably more – they were both quite embarrassed about it, acknowledging that most of it is a rip-off and they don't know how they justify charging what they do - but it is a small niche market and these chairs are not really mass-produced, although overall a lot are made - but they are not "off the peg." The voucher has just about covered the basic chair, but the extras I want, I have to pay for, and I also have to pay for the power add-on to be transferred from the old one. I think it's worth it, though, because the voucher is good for 5 years, and I am going to live with this, and I might as well get exactly what I want, and know that I am happy with it.
The hardest thing to decide on was the colour! In the end I reluctantly rejected purple (!) and have gone for black, because I will be adding my own decorations and it is a good “blank canvas to work on” – the white is really cool, but probably not terribly practical. As soon as I get it I will post some photos.
The only remaining thing now is for EDC to contact the power add-on people and confirm that what we are about to order is compatible (wheel camber angle etc.). When that's done (tomorrow) they will confirm with me that all is well, and then send off the order form. It will take several weeks, apparently, but they think I should have it by Christmas, although whether I'll have the power add-on done by then, I don't know.
So it’s all happening at last! I’m really looking forward to getting my new wheels!