Saturday, February 8, 2014
My New Ride
I find it almost impossible to believe that five and half years have come and gone since that old chair and I first made our acquaintances, but I guess that just goes to show that time flies even when all of your days are not exactly filled with wine and roses. Time definitely speeds up as you get older. These days, I’ll retire to the bathroom with a good magazine, and when I come out it seems several months have passed. I’m pretty sure Einstein noted this same phenomenon in his general theory of relativity, much of which I’m fairly certain he came up with while sitting on the throne. There’s a reason men spend so much time in the bathroom. Lots of heavy thinking going on in there. Trust me.
My new chair is the exact same model as my old chair, a Quantum Q6000Z (click here) with the high-speed motor package installed (hee hee). Unlike my trusty old friend, which had a static seat, my new mechanical wonder comes equipped with all the bells and whistles. The seat tilts, reclines, the leg rests extend and rise, and the seat can elevate 10 inches. With the seat reclined fully and the legs raised to their maximum height I can just about lie flat on the thing. It’s almost like having an easy chair on wheels.
All of this, of course, makes the chair much more comfortable for extended periods of use, but, alas, there’s the rub. Five and half years ago I didn’t need all of these fancy features because I was much more ambulatory than I am now. In fact, when I first got the old chair I didn’t even use it around the apartment, only employing it for outdoor excursions. These days my ability to walk has been reduced to attempting maybe five or six treacherous cane assisted steps, and I’m finding the new chair a much more hospitable environment in which to plant my backside for long stays. And although I do appreciate all of the new features, they also serve to remind me of the full-court press being put on by the disease, and just why they call progressive diseases progressive – they progress. I have a real bone to pick with whoever came up with this demented concept; I’d really like to give them a piece of my mind. Hey, hold on, thanks to MS, I already have. Dammit.
Naturally, the new chair is taking some getting used to. It’s a bit larger than the old chair, due to all of the extra seating motors and stuff, so it’s a lot trickier getting it around the tight corners in my apartment, and it’s not quite as responsive when trying to dodge pedestrians on crowded city streets. Hey, their problem, not mine. What’s a few ruptured Achilles tendons and smashed kneecaps amongst fellow New Yorkers? If pedestrians walking on the streets of New York insist on having their eyes glued to the screens of their cell phones, I refuse to take any responsibility whatsoever for whatever damage comes to them if they happen to crash into my speeding chair. I’m just a maniacal gimp gleefully careening through the streets of New York. I abdicate all culpability in the matter. After all, they’re the ones with working limbs. Or at least they were before running into me. Dammit.
This chair doesn’t seem to have the same range as my old chair, in which I could travel about 15 miles. Because of the very wintry conditions we’ve had lately, I’ve not taken the new chair out for an extended trek, but it looks like this chair’s range is significantly less than the old one. Of course, my body isn’t up to my marathon jaunts of old, as my “good” joystick controlling hand tends to want to stop working after shorter and shorter intervals, thanks to that whole progressive disease thing. Dammit.
Astoundingly, the list price of my new tricked out wheels came to an eye-popping $29,000. Yikes! I could buy a pretty decent car for $29,000, or even two economy cars for that same amount. I can only imagine the profit margins on power wheelchairs. How much could all of the parts cost? $10,000, max? I’d much rather have spent the money on a nice “preowned” five-speed convertible BMW, but these days I’d qualify more as luggage than driver, so that’s out. Dammit.
Thankfully, my wheelchair vendor got me a discounted price on the new rig, and my insurance company picked up the majority of the tab. Between the new chair, all of the diagnostic tests I’ve gone through to figure out the mysteries of my disease, and the myriad treatments I’ve tried in vain trying to tame it, I guess I could be the poster child for why healthcare costs in the US are absolutely insane. But hey, at 50 years old I think I’d be more a poster man than child, despite my hard fought battle to maintain my youthful demeanor. Thankfully, you’re only young once but you can be immature forever, and that’s exactly how I intend to continue to play it, with a hearty "hey diddle diddle and a nah nah nah" to boot. Perhaps I’m delusional, but looking at the new chair as a really slick shiny toy to play with makes the whole concept of “me in a wheelchair” much easier to swallow.
Hey, whatever it takes. Dammit.
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Congratulations of your 'mid-life crisis' purchase of an awesome convertible wheelchair. Most 50 yo's would go for the convertible sports car model that could take you a few hundred miles until you hit the next gas station but I know that I also celebrated my 50th birthday in an unconventional way with lung surgery to take out a chunk of my lung they thought was cancer.......No one ever told me that when you hit 50, birthday cards and get well cards become one in the same. Who knew? Good news, it wasn't cancer but probably an old blood clot that they think has absolutely no connection with my 2010 before and after picture of my venoplasty that needs reopening but insurance wouldn't pay for it this time. Damnit!ReplyDelete
Enough about me. My 6'1" 185 lb blond hair blue eyed 21 yo son Sam is visiting NYC this weekend and if he calls from the ER to say he was hit by a wheelchair, I know who to blame. Be careful with that Damn(it) thing. You have the 'Hummer' version that could make the wheelchair makers rich with new orders! Say hi to Karen and I am still thinking about your lonely wedding ring you lost in Central Park waiting to be found and reunited with it's owner. Take care birthday boy. Kate Flynn, MN.
Hi Kate, and thanks for your comments. Just to be clear, my birthday was back in August, but thanks anyway for the birthday wishes. So glad to hear that you don't have lung cancer, though it is unfortunate you had to go through surgery to find out. All's well that ends well, I guess. I didn't maim any pedestrians this weekend, so I trust Sam made it back safely. That wedding ring remains lost, waiting for some future archaeologist to dig it up and wonder how it got there… Hope you are staying warm up in Minnesota, from the weather reports I've seen the temperatures have appeared ghastly…Delete
Hey, I see the old irreverent WK is truly back from the latest medical fiasco --oops-- intervention attempt. I think it was the rampage through tendons and kneecaps on the streets of New York that was the final clue, although your hypochondrial tales last month were a good sign too. When I saw the first "Dammit" I suspected, and by the second one, I was just gleeful to know that we would once again be regaled by and treated to your unique take on the travesty and hilarity of life.ReplyDelete
Ah, yes, the travesty and hilarity of life. Throw in some absurdity also, in liberal doses. I am feeling almost recovered from the medical fiasco back in October, not all the way back but that's the way these things go. Thanks for your concern. Thanks for commenting, and I hope things are copacetic in your world…Delete
I really enjoy your blog. I've passed on the URL to my local MS chapter. I hesitate to confess, however. that I only just today noticed the wonderful photo slide show that graces your blog. Wonderful pics! Dammit. ;-)ReplyDelete
Thanks for passing on my blog to your local MS folks, and also thanks for the kind words about my photos. I have a bunch more from this past summer that I have yet to process, must get to that so I can post them to the slideshow. I think there are some good ones in the batch. My medical fiasco back in October set me back a piece, but then again laziness has played its role. Dammit.Delete
"...a maniacal gimp gleefully careening..." Love the double alliteration. Sorry for focusing on the less important stuff, but by now you must realize it's like a twitch for me to notice such things.Now, on to the more serious stuff. In describing your new wheelchair, you have managed once again to find the silver lining in a very dark cloud. In doing so, you lead by example and inspire. Thank you. Good luck on your new journeys.ReplyDelete
Thanks for commenting on the verbal gymnastics, Judith. I very well know how much you appreciate them, but I think this particular double alliteration was done subconsciously, if consciously at all. "Maniacal gimp gleefully careening" does have a nice ring to it, though. Gosh, it can sometimes be awfully damned hard to find that silver lining, but if you don't all you're left with his dark clouds, and who needs that? One of my favorite expressions is "you can't polish a turd", but then again you never know what's just underneath that turd, either… Could be something shiny, but then again, could be another turd…Delete
In your usual style, you have wryly created an image of the dark side of the light or is it the light side of the dark?
As the grinch at the party, I must admit that the picture of that chair brought back memories of the first time George sat in his new "toy".
We thought it would be the key to a new freedom, but it also brought home irrevocable losses. May yours be the BMW of your dreams. We await word of your new adventures legal or otherwise.
Hi Hilda, whether the dark side of the light or the light side of the dark, it all amounts to the same thing. Triumph and disaster are both impostors, it's perception that counts. Of course, there are some disasters so encompassing that perceiving them as otherwise might border on lunacy. The chair definitely is a physical manifestation of all of the losses suffered, but without it those losses would be truly unbearable. Thanks for your well wishes, and I'm sending back the same…Delete
I am awaiting insurance approval for a Quantum 06 Edge. It (only) goes 4 mph. and 8-10 miles per charge, but I think that should do for me in the relaxed Pacific Northwest. As MS is slowing me down this Winter, even more than usual, I hope I get it sooner rather than later. I can get used to the controls in the house, and when Spring comes I'll be ready to get to know, to really know the neighborhood.ReplyDelete
Congrats on your new ride. (Is it usual for them to last only five years?)
I hope you get the approval for your Edge soon. I understand it's a very good chair, quite rugged and good for "off-road" use. I you sure it only goes 4 mph? I thought it was a little faster than that. The controls shouldn't take much getting used to, after a few days you'll be a pro.Delete
My old chair is still in pretty good shape, but Medicare allows for a new chair every five years, and the progression of my disease dictated that I get a chair with enhanced seating functions, thus the new chariot…
Marc- so so happy to hear that immature voice of yours again! Thank-you for making me laugh while my heart hurts- I've always loved that combination. It seems you can refuse to progress in some ways so yay for that anyway. much love! and Happy Birthday!?ReplyDelete
Hey Jan, so nice to hear from you, someone from back when my immaturity was more appropriate to my age. Lots of crazy days back then, certainly makes for some rich memories. Yes, I'm very much still in touch with my inner child, thank heavens.Delete
Thanks for the happy birthday wishes, but the actual day was back in August. Still, 50 was a big one, so I'll take all the happy birthdays I can get… Hope all is great with you and your clan.
I love it when a grown man says "boink." Enjoy the new wheels.ReplyDelete
Hey, who said you could call me a grown man. Boink boink boink boink boink. There can never be too much boinking.Delete
Thanks for your comments, and for contributing to this blog.
It's Lynne, your neighbor in Queens!
I'm so glad you're enjoying your new wheels!!!
This is my first winter in an "electric chair" (love it when you say that and people look at you like "who did you murder?????" Wow.. I wasn't prepared for the "lack of traction" in snow (although I should probably have anticipated it). I don't know about you but in MY neighborhood, no one seems to take care of the curb cuts, so I often find that I have to find my way around by going around the block , and depend upon the kindness of strangers if I get stuck in a patch of snow or ice. I think I can count on ONE hand the number of times I've been out of the house since the beginning of the year....
I got a "Quickie" (not a quick boink, although that would not be unwelcome) but a sunrise medical Pulse 6 chair. because I'm a "little person" (I'm only 4'6") it's always a pain that nothing seems to fit my little body. THE CHAIR FITS ME and I love it! I also don't use it much in the house. I'm going to be taking a trip to DC in March for the Arthritis Legislative summit and will be traveling by Amtrack (staying 3 days/2 nights). Do you have any advice on traveling with a power chair?
Love to hear from you!!!!
BTW (maybe the actuators for the tilt/lift etc goodies on the chair take more power, and therefore cut into the range? just a thought....
Hi Lynne! So good to hear from you, after all these years. My mom and Anne (your old downstairs neighbor) say hello from Florida. Yup, they're still friends, and still raising hell.Delete
Sorry to hear that you are a member of the electric chair club, but better that than being part of the housebound club, right? Curb cuts are pain in the ass, especially when they serve host to knee-high puddles of black sludge when the snow melts, but for the most part they are kept pretty clear here in Manhattan.
Hope your kids are well (Marc and Dana?), I remember them as munchkins but they'd have to be in their 30s by now. Yikes, talk about time flying! Are you still in the old neighborhood?
I haven't traveled much with my power chair, and when I have I've rented a wheelchair accessible van. I understand that Amtrak is pretty wheelchair friendly, though. Careful with the airlines, if you ever use them, as I know several wheelchair folks whose chairs have been practically destroyed by the baggage handlers.
I think you're right about the actuators for the tilt/lift functions, but I don't think they can possibly account for just how much a difference in range I am seeing. We'll have to get the vendor to investigate…
Again, so great to hear from you, and please do keep in touch…
Marc, you mentioned the exorbitant prices of these infernal things (compared to a car), but what drives me nuts (ha, ha) is how the nuts & bolts on my Powerchair just fall off & how the adjustments that I & the wheelchair vendor make loosen & change over short time periods. I never had a car, either new or used, that had those problems. Hope your "convertible" behaves better than mine!ReplyDelete
Funny, my first chair was built like a tank, didn't give me any problems at all even though I rode it hard. The new chair does seem a bit more finicky, but I guess that's to be expected since it's a much more complex beast. I do find myself missing the much more solid feel of the old chair, though. Hoping the new one isn't as fragile as it feels.Delete
Hope your chair behaves itself, and thanks for the comments…
I love reading this blog. The funny thing is my daughter gets so jealous of the little girl in her class who rides in a wheelchair to class. She always gets in her great grandma's whenever she can. Given her love of cars and wheelchairs, I picture her in your wheelchair thrilled to tears. Just think, you're living an 8 year old girl's dream. Try and out immature her. I dare you. OK, in honor of the cold weather and a movie I saw in up state NY as a kid, I triple dog dare you. Just don't lick the flag pole.ReplyDelete
Enjoy the ride.
Well, if you're a-year-old is mature for her age, I bet you I could give her a run for her money in the immaturity department. Whenever my six-year-old nephew comes for a visit, I always give him a chance to sit on my lap and drive the wheelchair around Central Park. It's a freaking hoot, and his driving is just treacherous enough to send otherwise placid park goers scrambling for cover, which tickles me to no end. He's a very smart kid, and figured out all of the knobs on the controller, so even though I try to dial down the power, he always manages to sneak it back up. Hee hee…Delete
I saw that movie too (is there anybody who hasn't), and I won't be licking cold flagpoles anytime soon…
Good to hear that your sense of irony is still intact after all these years Marc! I've bookmarked your blog in hopes to keep up a little better rather than popping in every 6 or 8 months, although you couldn't possibly know that because I only pop in to read!ReplyDelete
Like other commenters, I am delighted by your immaturity! (My blog is composed almost entirely of inappropriate and immature topics. Hmmm, not the best selling points, perhaps.)
Happy to hear the new chair is slick enough to help offset the crappy parts of having to have one...
(I know it was in August, dammit.)