Wheelchair to Reopen my World

Friends! 
 
I used to be obsessed with weather reports, which would determine whether I'd be climbing, riding my bike in the hills of the Peak District or going for long walks.  The wonderful outdoors was, and is, my world, and the reason I moved to Sheffield within easy cycling distance of the Peak.   
 
As you may know, I've since acquired Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), also referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It's not simply tiredness; it's a multi-system neuroendocrine immune disorder.  I've recently also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a frequent bedfellow of ME's. 
 
So what does ME do anyway? 
 
For me, it means I'm now unable to walk more than a few metres using crutches without considerable pain and stiffness.  I have cognitive problems.  Often I can't bring to mind words, sentences or faces and have difficulty comprehending written material that isn't saturated with appropriate punctuation.  Mostly full stops.  I also have visual disturbances which can make it a challenge to read as the print dances on the page, and I get very frequent migraines.  It affects my autonomic nervous system which means my heart doesn't pump blood around my body effectively.  It dances to its own funky beat.   I have orthostatic hypotension, which means that being upright for any length of time can bring on pre-fainting warning signs and, if not dealt with swiftly, could lead to me passing out.  Queues at check-outs are my ultimate nightmare! 
 
And yes, there is fatigue.  The fatigue of ME doesn't go away with sleep.  It's often likened to a battery which cannot charge beyond 30%, and drains away with the slightest activity.  Counterintuitively, and frustratingly for somebody who craves physical activity, any exertion – physical, mental or emotional – is harmful for people with ME.  The defining characteristic of the condition is post-exertional malaise (PEM), which is an exacerbation of all the above symptoms following any exertion.  This can lead to me being bed-ridden for anything from a few hours to several days.  Exertion does not mean a 5km run.  It can be having a shower, writing emails, having a conversation, doing the dishes.  Doing any of these day-to-day things might mean I have no energy left to do anything else during that day and am confined to bed.   
The good news is: there is a cure for ME.  The bad news is: nobody knows what it is yet.  Until the hero boffins who are able to scrape together scarce funding for biomedical research find that cure, there is only symptom management.  This means very careful pacing, with energy conservation at the heart of everything I do.  As a result, I rarely go out and am very familiar with every inch of the walls in my house.  I need to get out and feel the cold, the wind and the rain.  For the first time in my life I am shocked to realise that I don't own a waterproof jacket; I have no use for one.  This needs to change.  I need an escape!   
 
What's the Plan? 
 
So, Plan A:  About a year ago I bought myself a lightweight manual wheelchair.  It's lovely, but I can count the number of times I've used it on the fingers of one hand, and still have some to spare.  It requires energy which doesn't exist for me.  It also causes pain in my shoulders, arms and hands. 
 
And so to Plan B, and this, Lovely People, is where you step in.  A powered wheelchair would give me back my freedom and open up my much-narrowed world again, whilst at the same time conserving precious energy.   
 
Requirements: It must be light-weight and foldable for maximum versatility and so I can get it through the narrow entrance to my house, must be able to cope with Sheffield's hills and, crucially, it must have a long range so I don't have to be dependent on the car and be capable of coping with rough terrain such as forest tracks and Sheffield's famed potholes and uneven pavements! 
 
My research has led me to this: Freedom Wheelchair A08L 
 
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£2499 would purchase the wheelchair with a single battery giving a 9 mile range. 
£3199 would purchase the wheelchair with additional batteries giving a full 27 mile range. 
 
Thank you for your patience with my ramblings.  If you've got this far, I'm hoping you might consider contributing towards my wheels, and/or sharing this page as you see fit, to open up my world again, get me back to my beloved outdoor world and give me a reason to obsess about the weather again! 
 
With love and huge thanks 
Ingrid xxx 

PS  I don't intend to keep this page open for an extended period. My plan is to keep it open for 40 days - which would conveniently take me to my birthday! - and take it from there.
 
 
These photos, together with the one at the top of the page, demonstrate the Before and After of my outdoor life.  I'd settle for halfway between!   
 
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Donations

  • Alison Glithero 
    • £10 
    • 24 mos
  • Catherine Lewis 
    • £10 
    • 25 mos
  • Penny Stokes 
    • £100 
    • 25 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • £250 
    • 25 mos
  • Maryam Akram 
    • £135 
    • 25 mos
See all

Organizer

Ing SonOf Ferg 
Organizer
Sheffield, Yorkshire and the Humber, United Kingdom
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