Driving Skills

Driving Skills

Now I have always thought of myself to be a good driver, something of a cross between a formula one world champion racing driver and the Queens chauffeur ,perhaps a little more of the former than the latter but be that as it may .However ,put me behind a wheelchair and it is entirely another kettle of fish . I tend to use the wheelchair , wife ensconced , as a battering ram to gain access to all buildings without automatic doors . Many a door,including my own front door,bears witness to the frontal assault . It has taken me some time to master the"bum first reverse "movement .Beware if you are standing in front of me in a queue as you are likely to catapulted backwards onto my wife's lap . If people greet me from behind then I tend to turn ,wheelchair and all in a scything movement which is akin to Bodicea and her chariot cutting swathes through the Roman legions . Little old ladies leap back with alacrity beyond their years but sadly not always with the same ability .

Recently I have acquired a set of wheels driven by a small electric motor which clips on the back of the chair. This allows me to propel my wife up the high street at speed with the wind in our hair and dreaming of the freedom of the open road - well at least we can go at a fairly sedate 3mph ! However the accelerator , call it what you will is designed like a brake handle . Consequently when I want to stop I tend to pull on the handle which simply increases my speed forward.

Our local shop has become fairly used to my somewhat erratic driving- to date I have ripped off the plastic moulding on a deep freezer ,demolished a display of cat food and don't ask about the newspaper stand as quite frankly , that was embarrassing . Imagine my horror/delight when I called at the shop this morning to buy some milk and was confronted by an irresistible obstacle course ( see photo ) Could I slalom between the smaller of the two displays and with one swift turn remove the bottom layer of toilet rolls from the ten foot tower and leave it still standing ? Whilst I considered my options , the manger came haring round the corner ,grabbed my usual bottle of milk and thrust it into my hand with the words "there that will save you the bother" Thwarted I put my machine into reverse - forgetting that it now had the capacity to run me over !Such is life .

19 Replies

  • Oh Georgepa, how I can relate to your description of your driving skills. We now have a very large electric chair, the fastest speed enables me jog but rarely use it for fear of getting out of control. I think every shop owner, manager, display putter upper etc should be made to drive a wheelchair around their shop and use the toilets for the disabled. In a department store before Christmas, I was trying to manoeuvre between racks of clothing and Colin ended up with a jumper on his head, hanger still attached. I didn't even notice until he started to laugh. In another quite posh store, there was a large display of cushions stacked up very high on a silver pallet. It looked beautiful with the cushions arranged by colour with dark ones at the bottom, gradually fading to pale colours at the top. No, I didn't knock them flying. I dismantled the display one by one, piling them up in a not so organised pile a foot away and then moved the pallet. I was there for ages but no one said or did anything, although several staff members saw me. I didn't rearrange them after I had manoeuvred the chair past.

    Looking at your picture, I'd love to take my grandsons in there. They'd demolish the towers in seconds, followed by, "We didn't mean it Nanna B".

    Happy driving!

  • I can't swear to it NannaB but I think that they are deliberately setting up an obstacle course in my local shop -there may very well be a points system 10 for a tower 5 for buckets of flowers and so on and money may very well change hands . By the way do bring your grandsons down - we could have a ball in there! Georgepa

  • You gave me an idea Georgepa. You could raise money for the PSPA. People could pay £1 for every pack of toilet rolls that landed on it's side after you made your way to the chilled cabinet I see beyond. Your dear wife may need a hard hat but they wouldn't hurt much.

  • I too recently purchased a large brute of an electric chair for Don who is far to difficult these days to manoeuvre in and out of car seats and manual wheelchairs. Pity I didn't think beforehand about the degree of difficulty in driving these things. I am sorely tempted to get a large L plate and attach it somehow to the front of the beast to alert unwary pedestrians of their potential to be mown down by the novice driver behind the wheelchair.

    Still, I guess practise will make perfect, or at least a degree better than I am doing right now. Meanwhile, I just wish Don would stop shrieking in fright every time we go over a bump or squeeze through a tight space!!

  • Lohall, do you also have to keep vacuuming up white bits from the floor? Paint from the constantly cloncked door frames, skirting boards etc. Not my fault of course, C's carers also drive it......well not all my fault, maybe just a bit!

  • Not so far NannaB. Our house has quite large open spaces and so it is very easy to drive around our living areas. However, I suspect as Don's ability to weight bear decreases, and we use the big brute more regularly indoors, I'll be joining the vacuuming brigade.

  • Chris is still walking with a stick although we bought him a walker last summer. He walks very slowly with his stick and has recently started to occasionally freeze. But with the walker he is terrifying. In October we went to visit the Roman ruins at Aphrodisias where there is a beautiful museum on site with marble floors. We took his walker and entered the museum which includes one huge gallery devoted to sculptures and reliefs from one street. I started to read the descriptions mounted next to each exhibit but C, no doubt intoxicated with all the space to manoeuvre shot down the full length of the gallery until he hit the farthest corner and stuck. He couldn't do reverse. He looked like the naughty boy sent to the corner in some old-fashioned school. I rescued him of course but wish I had taken a photo. The walker hasn't been used since then though will no doubt come out again soon. I daren't think about wheel chairs, though we shall no doubt get one of those in due course. The later the better as far as I'm concerned.

  • hi all

    i have at the moment 2 manual wheelchairs 1 for inside and 1 for out

    btu i am hoping to get an electric one for indoors as it si v difficult propelling myself around the apart me nt -with the PSP i cannot use my arms to wheel myself andmy feet r not great either - so i am hoping to get a small electric one for indoors . luckily the apartment has v wide doorways as it is an old house but still ia m managing to run Up the decorating bills !

    ;ol jill

    and a :-) for a snowy day (OR RAIN HERE IN THE NORTH WEST)

  • Oh thank you georgepa thats all I can say as I try to make my way to bathroom trying to see through the tears of laughter. Janexx

  • Hi Georgepa, again your descriptions have given us a good giggle! Thank you.

    My best story, is a couple of months ago, S couldn't walk, had gout! So took the chariot out to the local supermarket in South Africa. They don't have the special trollers for wheelchairs, so S had to push a fully sized one around, while I pushed him. I suppose we must of been a six foot train, going around. I did manage quite well, everybody took one look and jumped out the way. It was all going good, until we hit the car park. What I thought was a flat surface, was actually at 45 degrees. So S nearly went flying out of his chair holding on to the trolley. Yes you right, nobody helped, not even the guys in the car park that are always there to push your trolley. So had to park S up, while I took the trolley to the car. Much to the horror of two old ladies. What was I meant to do? Leave the shopping?

    Lots of love


  • Hi Heady, when I first got the electric wheelchair I was reading the manual while the chair was being adjusted for Colin. It said if you leave the chair outside, always lock it using a special combination and complicated series of actions to unlock it. I told the engineer to set it up for me and he advised me not to as he had rescued several couples where the wife had left her husband outside a shop, locked it and on returning had forgotten how to unlock it. He said how likely was it for someone to steal the chair with someone sitting in it and it would never be left outside empty. Your shopping was far more likely to disappear unless your dear hubby was worth a ransome! I didn't do much better with the special wheel chair trolleys . The first time I took C out in a manual wheelchair, he decided he wanted to go to Sainsburys to try out the special trolleys. The first hurdle was attaching it to the chair as ours is wider than the norm. That done and shopping underway I thought it was going very well. Then I walked passed the coffee as I didn't need any but changed my mind as it was on offer. I pulled the chair backwards and all the wheels locked. I forgot the front wheels would spin but also the trolley wheels spun as well totally locking against each other. I ended up on my hands and knees in the middle of the coffee isle with Colin laughing and other customers getting annoyed as they had to reverse, unable to pass. Eventually a member of staff helped. I continued to shop, piling the trolley with my goods. I had forgotten however that you can get a lot more un bagged produce in a trolley than you can bagged. As I hadn't intended shopping, I had to use carriers. I had them hanging from the handles, Colin's lap was piled high and one was swinging from each wrist as I pushed him back to the car. Never again. Now I shop on line, take advantage of my Crossroad sitters, or go at 11 pm after Colin is in bed and the night nurse is with him. Before PSP we never had to think about shopping, we just went when we wanted and did it.




  • what a relief I thought it was just me. I took out a pile of charcoal bags in market yesterday.

  • You do have a way of writing descriptively...paints quite the picture in one's mind. I remember those days well. I took MJ to Target, loaded her in a scooter, and drove the scooter from the right side walking along on her right side and running the controls. After we completed our trip we headed for the door at which time she grabbed the throttle and squeezed with the hand that took a vice grip to get to release. I watched in horror as she went careening thru the doors (which had been designed to take the entire panel up and out). And after driving thru the front glass doors we found ourselves heading out to a busy parking lot. I can only compare it to watching your child have a full blown temper tantrum in a busy store.

  • Thank God for a sense of humour !! I hope I will be able to laugh when we need a wheelchair. It is very hilly here and I don't know how I will manage. I do enjoy reading your posts. Jean

  • Going up is hard work - going down is positively dangerous!

  • To be perfectly honest, the first time I had to push S in a wheelchair, I was totally amazed how easy it was! how much fun! How much quicker it was to get to where we were going and this was on a day when his legs refused to work, I was a total mess, but pushing him in a chair made us laugh!!!

    Lots of love


  • I did wonder if you could be "done" if you were over the limit in charge of a wheelchair ?

  • The only problem of pushing after a drink or two, is you sober up very, very quickly, especially if pushing up a steep hill, says she speaking from experience!!!

    Lots of love


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