Sorry for the silly title. On to my second cup of coffee after a 4am wake up call (thanks little Bean!) and starting to feel a little flakey.
There is a point.
For the past few months, we’ve been on a waiting list for the ‘wheelchair clinic’ at our city children’s hospital and we finally had our appointment yesterday.
Since I started telling people we were going to the clinic I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve expressed surprise.
‘Really? Are you sure?’, ‘A wheelchair? Does he need one?’ ‘But he can walk, can’t he?’
The answer to all the above questions is Yes.
Yes. I am sure. Of course I am sure. (Geez, how can my friends NOT know how much time I spend pondering these sort of issues before making a decision??!!)
Yes, he needs one. He’s getting too big for a pram and besides, I am sick of hearing him referred to as a ‘baby’, mostly by little kids who are making the obvious connection between a stroller and babies. BUT he’s not a baby anymore and in fact he will tell anyone who suggests it no uncertain terms ‘I am a big boy’ (with his arms out wide in front of him, looking perhaps, rather menacing to someone who doesn’t know that this is the sign for ‘big’, not an attempt to reach out and grab them ).
And yes, he can walk with his kaye walker, for which we are very grateful and quite thrilled. BUT, he can’t walk for long distances. He gets tired. There’s also the fact that he doesn’t always want to walk. And sometimes, to put it bluntly, we just don’t have time for him to walk or the environment is not suitable for walking in a kaye walker (hello tan bark, hello gravel, hello badly damaged footpaths that should really be replaced).
So. Off we went to the wheelchair clinic.
We were in and out in all of five minutes. Not just because we sort of already knew what we were wanting to get (a ‘stroller’ style manual wheelchair), but also because there just isn’t that much of a range of manual wheelchairs available for a pint-sized four year old. In fact, the one we’re getting is the smallest manual wheelchair/stroller available.
The system of getting a wheelchair in Victoria through the RCH works like this. The wheelchair clinic has a ‘bank’ of chairs. They loan them out, review them and exchange them as necessary as kids grow and their needs change. I am not sure how much more difficult the process would be if we were after an electric wheelchair, but for the manual stroller type we are after, the process was surprisingly simple.
Luckily for us, they didn’t have the one that we are after in BC’s size. Why lucky? Well, this means they’ll need to order a brand new one. And that in turn, meant that BC got to choose the colour.
Guess what colour he chose? My first guess would have been yellow (for some bizarre reason, his favourite colour) but fortunately yellow was not an option. So he chose purple (for which I am secretly or perhaps not so secretly thrilled as this is MY favourite colour ).
We will get the wheelchair in about 4 weeks. I can’t remember the EXACT model that we’re getting, but it’s a ‘Convaid’ brand stroller and it looks something like this:
As much as I am excited about it, I am also a little nervous. Not about having a child in a wheelchair, nope, not at all. If you’d told me in the months after his birth that we’d be getting him a wheelchair at aged 4 I probably would have been devastated but we’ve come so far since then and learnt so much for it not really to be scary prospect. In fact, I feel great about where he is, and where we are, these days. My concern is much more selfish than that.
Here it is: I know, I said I don’t like him being called a ‘baby’ when we’re out, but at least the pram is some anonymity. Because he IS little, people don’t question much the sight of him in the pram. With the chair, I just worry that it will be a new opportunity for strangers to feel it’s OK to stare and point and ask a whole new bunch of questions for which I will have to develop a new stock of standard-giving-a-little-information-but-not-to-much-to-invite more-questions-or-feel-like-BC’s-privacy-is-being-invaded-whilst-also-being-sure-to get-the-message-across-that-he-should-not-be-pitied-nor-shall-I-be-rude-if-the-questions-are-too-pointed-and-ongoing-whilst-also-taking-up-as-little-of-our-time-possible-so-we-don’t-get-parking-fines-arrive-late-or-generally-just-run-out-of-good–humour responses…
Well. We will see. I am wheely, wheely sure that we will find out soon enough. And I can tell you I will be working on BC getting his own bank of responses which I am sure will be much better than my own anyway .
Oh, I nearly forgot. I haven’t even tackled the issue yet about how the chair will work when I am out on my own with my little runaway super quick Bean at the same time. That’s another adventure that we’ll have to face when we get there. I’m considering looking somehow at maybe being able to use one of these buggy pods, one of these skateboard type things OR even this ‘Strollirider’ ride on bike attachment.
If anyone knows of ANYONE who has found a good way to tackle this dilemma of having a baby or toddler as well as a child in a chair, I’d love to hear it. And I will keep you posted on what we decide to do and how it works!