Christopher's blog - taking to wheels
"In the last couple of years my walking range and stamina have shrunk so much that I decided last summer to get a wheelchair so that I could do longer outings without getting completely shattered.
I have always loved being on wheels ever since I was a very small boy. I had a tricycle, then I had a scooter of the sort you push yourself along on with one foot on the ground, and I pestered my Dad to make me a go-cart.
Many people, I suspect, would see taking to a wheelchair as a disaster, a capitulation, something to be dreaded, something to get very depressed about. With me, this wasn't the case. It has been liberating, because I can now undertake outings which are no longer possible on foot - big shopping trips in town, galleries, museums, going to the tea-hut on the Common. Above all it has offered loads of opportunities for sheer fun - for example, tearing downhill at great speed from Cambridge Circus to Charing Cross Station, dodging tourists and theatre-goers. Another exhilarating spot is the slope leading down to the new ticket hall at King's Cross Underground Station, which is absolutely smooth and level and certainly brings out the five year old in me.
The very first outing in the wheelchair was a big shock, though. We are not born with wheelchair skills. I was very dismayed at the huge effort I needed just to move myself forward a few feet, and within a hundred yards I was shattered. I had absolutely no control over the unruly beast, and nearly ended up floating, out of control, into the road - luckily my partner caught me in time. I had naively imagined that because my arms were still working, I could simply go anywhere in the wheelchair immediately, just as I used to walk anywhere.
This initial disappointment soon evaporated as I learned to control the wheelchair and as I started to build up pleasingly butch muscles in my arms and shoulders. Within a couple of weeks I was able to propel myself half a mile and more. A very happy spin-off (groan ... no pun intended) was that I was at last getting some proper exercise, so my mood improved hugely, I was no longer so prone to anxiety, and I was sleeping better.
Altogether, then, taking to wheels has been a very positive and happy experience."