Thanks to City Lodge Grand West, on Friday 14th September my little Warrior got his wheels. My deepest gratitude to Stefan and Francois and all others involved at City Lodge. We were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown to us at the handover.
This dream began in October 2011 after I decided to do the Argus and that our goal would be to raise funds for a motorised wheelchair for Damian. Going into his teen years, this would be a huge step up on the road to some form of independence.
In the short while that he has had his new chair I have been amazed by how quickly he has learned to use it. I will admit I was quite worried the day he got it that it would be difficult as the joystick is very sensitive. But this brave little boy astounds me time and again with his adaptability, sense of logic and determination.
The first day began back at my office. All I can say is that there were skid marks all over the carpet, black marks on the walls and a scratch along the door. The elevator in the building was a hair-raising experience. The doors don’t stay open long enough and either Damian in his chair, or I, would get lodged in the doors before they reopened. Somehow in the panic, Damian reversed up the wall, wedging my hand between the chair and the wall and ramming my ankle. My hand was swollen and sore for a week!
When we got home, we practiced out in the streets where there were no doorways to manoeuvre or walls to wedge me against. It suddenly dawned on me that a whole new area of learning has just opened up… traffic safety! Damian has never had to learn to be conscious about looking left and right, using zebra crossings, pedestrian lights etc. Obviously he has seen me do it, but has never had to be concerned before, now he has to learn to be aware and responsible.
The next day, we decided to walk/ride the ten avenues to visit Helena, Gary, Denise and the children so Damian could show them his wheels. We also managed Pick ‘n Pay without wiping anything off the shelves. This same day was where I got my second glimpse into just how big an impact this would have in Damian’s life. The only space he has to ride at home is in the driveway if I park my car outside. Our parking area and entrance to our cottage is in the same area as the entrance to our neighbour in the main house. When I told Damian it was time to come inside, he promptly rode away to visit the neighbour. It is the first time ever that he could decide to do as he pleased – and assert his first bit of teenage rebellion!
When Stefan and Louise visited to come and see Damian’s wheels, we also all commented on the fact that while we were talking and having tea, Damian went out and visited our neighbour and watched her in the garden. Another first for us.
Damian decided that even though the only space he can ride in at home is outside, he would give it a go inside anyway. He very quickly managed to ride in a straight line down the narrow path in the lounge, AND to reverse back again. He also found a way to parallel park his chair in it’s storage space. I have had my driver’s licence for many years now and I still cannot parallel park. So kudos to Damian!
As much as Damian is learning and adapting, so am I. Sometimes harshly. Like putting my laptop on the lounge floor while going to do something else. This cannot happen anymore as I discovered when Damian rode over it. When I squealed he stopped… ON the laptop. And I must just add that this wheelchair is insanely heavy. I cannot lift it at all. So you can imagine how my heart sank when I saw it parked on the keyboard of my laptop. I am happy to announce that I am typing this from said laptop and I am very impressed with the brand!
So it has been fun and games for the past couple of weeks and with just a little more practice and arrangements Damian will soon be taking it to school. We are all very excited for what this means for Damian and the possibilities that lie ahead for him.
Once again, a huge thank you to City Lodge.