Life After Guillain-Barre Syndrome ….. Available in sizes 8 – Wheelchair!

When I was discharged from hospital I was provided with a brand new wheelchair. At the time, in my excitement to finally be released from hospital after 6 long months (I never thought I would empathise with prisoners!) I didn’t look at the size and weight etc, I was just grateful to be given one. Over the last nine months, however, I’ve discovered that the said wheelchair is heavy and cumbersome.

It’s great that I have my new car with hand controls and the freedom to get out and about. However, the wheel chair is so heavy I couldn’t possibly get it in and out of the car by myself. There’s not much point driving myself to Asda, only to sit in the car park! Even if by some miracle I was able to get it out, it’s too heavy for me to self propel more than about 15 metres. Of course this has nothing to do with my body weight!!

I’ve certainly put on a little bit of weight since coming out of hospital. I have what I call my “Wheelchair middle” caused by sitting down for most of my days. To be honest I’m surprised I’ve not put on a lot more, as I can’t exercise. The only conclusion I have come to is that because everything I do takes far more effort than it would for an able bodied person, I am burning off more than average calories when doing very little.

Fortunately the NHS have taken pitty on me, and in October I was measured up for a new light weight wheelchair, which should be delivered to me very soon. Not only does it weigh less, it has quick release wheels, that means it can be broken in to small parts to be put in my car. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to self propel any further in it, but time will tell. It will also look more “trendy” than my existing one and will hopefully be easier for the person who is pushing me.

Having a wheelchair has changed many things in my life. Things are so different when I’m out and about in one. It took me ages not to feel suffocated in clothes stores, as it feels like I’m in a maze with high walls made of clothing! I have to also give extra thought to what I wear. When I went to my brother’s wedding last year I chose a dress that flared out, so it would look nice when I’m sat down. High heeled shoes and flip flops are a no-go when you’re disabled, so I have to think of outfits that look ok with flat shoes. (I so miss my flip flops and heels!) I also get very cold in my wheelchair as I’m not moving. I compare it to being sat at a freezing cold bus stop for hours on end. I’ve invested in two long warm coats to see my through this winter. I’m very grateful that those massive long Dr Who type scarves are in fashion, as I can place one round my neck and across my lap, without looking like a little old lady under a blanket!

I always try to look for the positives in any situation and I’ve managed to find a couple relating to having a wheelchair. For some reason people talk to me far more when I’m out and about. Not just the staff in stores but also the random general public. I find myself laughing and chatting with complete strangers on a regular basis. The other massive benefit of course, is that no matter how busy the establishment I’m always guaranteed a seat!

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