Wednesday 15 November 2023

A Matter Of Wheel Importance

Hello, dear reader!

There are certain things in life which seem constant companions. Death and taxes is probably the most oft quoted of these inescapable facts of life, but there are others and, depending on who you are, your inescapable facts could be completely different to mine.

For instance, money might be more or less of an issue in your life than mine, as could health, or relationships, or, well quite frankly a million other concerns, annoyances, and considerations that seem baked into our existence.

For me, at this precise moment in time, my inescapable fact appears to be a less than robust wheelchair.

Those of you who know me, either through these inane ramblings or in person will know that I rely on such a machine to get about. I have since my late teens, or at least my very early twenties, due to being born with Spina Bifida and spending an inordinate amount of my youth laid up in one hospital bed or another. The operations number in the teens. The record for consecutive nights spent in hospital at just over nine months. With each bed-bound stay, the strength in my legs dwindled. The operation to rebuild my left hip, and the aforementioned months of recuperation, the bulk of which were spent in a hip spica (look it up, it’s such fun) was probably the final straw.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I need my chair (while garnering some ill-deserved sympathy, natch) and makes the wait for a new one rather irksome.

My current ride, you see, is a bit on the broken side. Not quite as dramatically as previous chairs have been (see here, or here), but enough to mean its main purpose (i.e getting me from A to B with an option of C) is becoming harder to fulfil. If it were a race horse it would probably have been shot by now. If it were a car, it would be sold for scrap value and possibly put in one of those crusher thingies.

Loose Screws
The right wheel rim, a tool which comes in quite useful for self perambulation, is only held on by two of the six specialist screws designated for the job. The right front castor likes to jam at a right angle to its more useful ‘heading straightforward’ alignment. It’s almost as if the chair wants me to turn right at any and every opportunity. A useful thing if that’s where you’re headed. A decidedly less useful thing if you’re next to a main road or, I don’t know, a nettle patch.

Now the new ‘chair was ordered some time ago, after Wheelchair Services brought me in for an assessment which lasted all of around two minutes before they declared it condemnable. I think it may be around two months, if not a touch more. This made the news I received, upon making a polite enquiry as to progress, that it was still in the queue to be manufactured somewhat hard to take.

To what I believe to be my credit, I didn’t shout, scream, or say any naughty words. In my experience, if you’re wanting something from the person on the end of the phone it seldom does any good, anyway (now, if they’re wanting something from you…). Instead I expressed my exasperation in polite terms, mentioning the upcoming plans to spend Xmas at my Step-daughter’s in London and how getting off the bus with a build-it-yourself wheelchair kit, minus some key parts, would be less than ideal. I think the mention of family, Xmas, and the manly quiver in my voice might have stuck some kind of heart string, because the lady I was talking to said she would see if she could make my case a priority. Slightly unconvinced, I thanked her for her trouble and booked in a repair.

Which brings us bang up to date.

Heavy Wait
It is, as I write, some three hours since an engineer (a man who, coincidentally, originally hailed from Greater London) left the house. The left rear wheel rim has been secured by two new screws, of slightly different lengths, and two small bolts that required an Allen Key to tighten. The right front castor is pretty much a write-off, but he removed it, cleaned it, and replaced it all the same. Despite this, it still wants to go sideways.

All of which leaves me only very slightly better off and still waiting for that wonderful new chair. The engineer chappy did say that Wheelchair Services receive delivery of new chairs all the time from the manufacturer (who’s in Germany), and they don’t get any kind of update or warnings until they do. This coupled with the helpful intervention of the lady on the phone gives me some kind of hope but, until the van pulls up outside I guess, in the words of Robeert E Heinlein, waiting… is.

Until next time…


Hey, there! If you enjoyed reading any of the above, why not take a look at some of my published work? Below you’ll find links to a number of short stories I’m lucky enough to have included in anthologies. I’d love to know what you think

New Tales Of Old

Death Ship

Pestilence: Drabbles 1

Reaperman: Drabbles 3

The Musketeers Vs Cthulhu

Eldritch Investigations

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