Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Well, the wheelchair man has come and gone and I'm flattened from the whole thing, but it's done.

After reading the comments people left this morning, I was certain that I would not be happy with a stroller-type wheelchair. If we had to have special seating then I wanted the real deal--a wheelchair. I told the rep as much when he arrived and he agreed. His belief is that kids who will be good candidates for power chairs should start off in regular wheelchairs. That way, when they eventually move up to the power chair they'll have a back-up chair for days when the power chair needs servicing.

Made sense to me.

Unlike some some other places, there are no showrooms of wheelchairs in the New Orleans area and I pretty much have to go with the dealer's recommendation. He recommended the Quickie Zippie which come in two models: the GS and the TS. The TS has the option of tilting back to allow the person to rest. The GS can be moved by the child independently. I felt strongly that the room (the rep, the OT, and the PT) wanted me to choose the TS with tilt.

I wouldn't agree to the TS, though. The TS cannot be self-propelled. This means that the chair would only be pushed by me and Charlie would have no chance for independent mobility. I have no idea whether or not he'll be able to propel a wheelchair at some point. Right now I'm not sure if he has good enough use of both arms, but I hate the idea of making it impossible. And since this will most likely be his back-up wheelchair for as long as ten years, I just can't feel good about that. When it comes time to purchase his power chair, we'll address the issue of tilt again, but for now I'm more interested in independence. He probably won't be spending long hours in the wheelchair at this age, so I'm less concerned about fatigue. This is a stepping stone to what we really want--some form of independent mobility.

So we went with the GS in yellow with charcoal cushions. Charlie will be embroidered in yellow on the seat. Those decisions took about five minutes, which surprised the dealer. He said that picking colors is usually the longest part of the process. I won't get into how much it scares me that parents are more interested in colors than in the actual chair.

With the PT and OT there, there was also a lot of talk about standers, positioning chairs, and the fact that Charlie will be aging out of Early Steps in June, which is less than a year away. There will be many more decisions to make then. At that point I was pretty spent. I have some ideas regarding the stander and chair, and I'll keep you posted. All the wonderful advice I received on my last equipment post was extremely helpful.

It's hard to pick out a wheelchair for your child--I'm more emotional than I expected to be. Rationally, I know that this is a good thing, but my tear ducts don't seem to get that. I also worry that this meeting is just a sign of things to come. A foreshadowing of many more meetings where my expectations for my child are so much greater than anyone else's. I'm a little exhausted thinking about it.