Many years ago, I began amateur blogging, not really certain of what the point of it would be or who would read it (I know, that sounds like the first line of every blog anyone has ever started), but doing it in earnest nonetheless.
My first one was all about my life with spina bifida and various issues involved with disabilities. In my community. In America. In the world.
The experience gave me a wide-ranging perspective on myself and others. I’d never known a ton of other people with major disabilities before that. The blog grew in its reach the more I wrote from experience. But more importantly, it grew the more I wrote from a growing inquisitiveness on the subject.
My second just-for-kicks blogging project was even more in earnest. It was a blog about the Hindu religion/culture/community. In my city. In America. In the world and beyond.
It gave me a greater understanding of a culture I had begun to delve into deeply, but had just reached the point where I could fluently share my personal insights on it. In doing so I made connections with some people who mean a great deal to me to this day. It showed me that what I thought of as my “self” was a much more vast inner experience than I’d ever imagined.
Fast forward years later and the next two freelance projects for Dailey Freelance Blogging are for a wheelchair and medical supply shop and for a local international community. Though the material from those original blogs has been dispersed in various ways, the experience remains with me.
Though I come to the wheelchair shop project with a lifetime of experience, I can now confidently say I will “write what I know.”
The Hindu blog was an even more life-changing experience. I learned new customs, systems of thought, new ways of looking at the world. With that background, I can now approach the local international community with a mind that is heavily inclined to opening, and embracing.
Sometimes you don’t know until years later why you took on certain projects with such diligence.
Yeah it is definitely a cliche, that your wheelchair is “like your legs” but you aren’t going to get very far without it if you use one.
And they wear out over time, sooner or later, depending on how hard-core your life is. I am going on 11 years in my current chair. So it is entirely possible that if you are reading this you may be looking for a chair for your first time alone. Or maybe, like me, you’ve picked them out before but never really gave it much thought. Maybe you just got what had worked before.
This time, it is worth really looking into all of the different options you have. I mean, you spend most of your life in it. Because…umm…it’s like your legs.
I, myself, am considering my next chair with a set of nine different criteria, in no particular order:
- Cushion – Usually you get your cushion separate from the chair itself, but as long as you are getting a new chair you might as well look into a new cushion. And you might as well get the right one. I can’t tell you which is right for you. I’ve had air cushions, the honeycomb type, and the gel filled type. Two of them have been disastrous for me in the long run while for friends of mine they’ve been the answer to all of their problems. Only you know.
- Tires – You’ll probably change tires many times during the lifetime of the chair itself. But again, as long as you’re getting a new chair you might as well start off the next phase of your rolling life right. So you’ll want to consider the season it is when you make the change. If it’s summer, do you plan to switch to winter tires once that season comes around? If so, then you may consider all-season tires. If you live an active lifestyle, there are different types of tires that perform well on different terrains.
- Brakes – Brakes have been a major source of irritation for me over the years. I used to get the fairly standard brakes with the vertical knob which, when pushed forward brought the horizontal bar back across the tire. They work fine but I was always slamming my thumbs into them.
For my last couple of chairs I got the horizontal scissor lock type brakes. You have to reach down underneath your seat and pull the lever forward in order to push the other end of it back across the tire. Not only is this not very handy, but its also very tough to lock if it is tight. If it is loose, it will lock easily but not very well. Both types loosen over time especially as the tires wear down. At this point you are forever ping-ponging between too-tight and too-loose brakes. But at least your thumbs are fine. So it’s your choice.
- Width – Consider your living space and the spaces you frequent (your office, your friends and relatives’ homes, favorite stores and restaurants). Could you improve your mobility in these places greatly by simply decreasing the width of your chair? If so, this could either involve changing the camber of the back wheels, or making the seat itself more narrow.
- Weight – Since you got a new chair last time, your life could have changed in many ways. I used to have a car, for instance, in which I could easily swing my chair into the back seat. Now we have a hatchback. My wife takes the chair to the back and picks it up and puts it in the hatch. I am in the market now for a lighter chair to lessen the burden on her.
- Footplate – I am looking to change my footplate for two reasons. One being the aforementioned weight. It’s a very heavy footplate. It makes the chair heavy overall, but it makes my chair front-heavy too, which affects my maneuvering. The second reason is that the plate sticks out more than it needs to. Many wheelchair users have their feet tucked back a bit more. This, just like reducing the width, makes different spaces much more accessible, and increases maneuverability.
- Handles – My current chair is, I think, the first one that did not have the handles sticking out in the back. They were always a handy thing for anyone to grab onto if they were helping me get up a step or four. But my chair does have a sturdy metal bar that runs across the back which functions just as well, I’m told by those who’ve given me such assistance.
- Seatbelt – It’s real simple. Do you need it? Generally speaking, I don’t for everyday life. The only time I wish I had it is a time when I shouldn’t have to worry about it in the first place. That is when on public transit and I find that they don’t have belts that go over a chair user’s waist. They only have the belts or clamps that hold the wheels in place on the floor. It is unacceptable in the first place to be in that position, but it does happen. So a seat belt probably should at least be an option on your chair.
- Casters – I have somersaulted out of my chair and onto the pavement more times than I can count during my life. A smaller diameter caster can improve maneuverability but can make bumps in the road more hazardous. A wider caster, meanwhile, can improve your chances when it comes to a crack in the road you may otherwise fall into, but maybe aren’t quite so sporty. Like with all of the options I’ve listed, it’s up to you to decide what’s important for your lifestyle.
I hope you’ve found this list helpful in making your own list of priorities with your next wheelchair. I hope the change vastly improves your quality of life.
I recently marked a whole calendar year since the day I publicly announced myself as a professional commercial blogger. I made that announcement last year by creating a Facebook page for Dailey Freelance.
A lot has happened. Doors have opened at unexpected times. It has reminded me that I have always been a writer at heart though. In fact in my younger days I casually blogged for about eight years.
Just for the pure hell of it.
But looking back, I can see some definite tendencies toward the kind of messaging that is employed in commercial blogging. Many times I felt inspired to promote a product or event or show.
Below are a few links to some of those oldies but goldies, with some descriptive commentary. Ignore the occasional typo in these examples, please. Remember, I was just goofing off at the time. I’m not screwing around anymore.
Having said that:
- This is just a strong call to action post. I stated my agenda. I gave my reasons for doing so. I provided benefits of compliance.
- This one was to report on a local event that had just taken place. It was designed to bring more attention to their agenda in case it had been missed by the general public. It was meant to go more in depth to explain it’s importance.
It is eye-opening to look back on where you’ve been and see for the first time that it pointed the way to where you were going.
My company is called “Dailey Freelance Blogging” officially. But some of my bigger projects have been proofreading and editing books. Unfortunately all of these projects are still in the works so I cannot provide clips.
But the three major projects I have worked on are:
- a memoir by a white American Buddhist heavy metal enthusiast and painter with Tourette’s.
- a memoir of a Hindu woman with a rare disorder called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, who is a devotee of Swami Sai Baba. HHT is a condition related to the clotting of the blood.
- a work of fiction involving the author’s personal genealogy, the history and mythology of Ireland, as well as a heaping helping of metaphysics.
So as you can imagine, I have grown accustomed to working with material that is quite complex, with a great amount of depth, and of deep personal importance to the authors. It has been my great honor to have had these writers entrust me with their stories.
On these projects, I have considered myself merely an editor. The content of the work itself is up to the author, and I’d never dream of intruding on their vision. I provide suggestions when asked, but beyond that my job is to help the author’s story (as they tell it) come through in the most cohesive, coherent, and effective way possible.
I understand that as the author of the work, it is YOUR labor of love. It is your life. I have a great respect for that.
Again it is my honor to work with you.