As many of you know from Facebook, about a month ago my trusty wheelchair of 15 years had its frame break. It is repairable and will be repaired, but it will take months to get the part due to the age of the chair. Plus the chair really does need to be retired to being a backup chair. My current backup chair is about 22 years old; the frame has been twisted and screws have been stripped by the abuses of jumping many curbs and international travel so it is literally "on its last wheel".
A Quickie RX
The replacement with a new Quickie® with the features similar to my old chair would be between $2200 and $1800 depending on discounts that I might or might not be able to get. This is a BIG, unexpected expense so I checked ebay and second hand sales places like Missouri Assistive Technology's Swap N Shop, but I was unable to find what I needed at a reasonable price. I decided to look for other brands that might offer better prices and I was intrigued to find a chair listed for $235. It looked a lot like my first Quickie called a Quickie RX. (Some of you may remember the old Quickie company slogan, "You'll never forget your first Quickie"...well its true. My Quickie RX made me a lifetime customer and a wheelchair snob*.) The $235 chair's knock-off design intrigued me.
Drive Cruiser III
I researched this knock off called a Drive Cruiser III and found it at Wal-Mart online for only $195. Plus it had free shipping to the store or 97 cent shipping to my house. I have NEVER considered buying a wheelchair from Wal-Mart and certainly not for less than $200. I ordered the chair on Tuesday and it arrived on Friday. So we took it out of the box, made some adjustments and I've been using it for 4 days now. The following is my thoughts about the chair.
I was pleasantly surprised by the two axle heights that truly assure it is a hemi-height (can be pushed with a foot because your feet touch the ground when adjusted for this use). Additionally, I was surprised by the 3 position fork so I could have the inclined seat that I like to reduce the pressure on my left hip.
The seat is comfortable and seems very durable. Since I like to fold and load the chair with my right hand only, I would have preferred a single strap across the seat to help fold the chair rather than the loops on each side. The back is not adjustable and too high for my preferences.
MAIN POSITIVE: The front wheels are welded to the frame rather than screwed so it is more durable. My 22 year old backup Quickie chair suffers from the screws shifting and enlarging the holes until the front tires no longer functioned properly. I've made temporary repairs on this problem for years.
The chair weighs about 7 pounds more than my Quickie did so right now I feel like I'm in an exercise program when I load and unload the chair.
MOST SERIOUS NEGATIVE: The wheels are bald indoor tires that can leave black streaks on the floor.
The look and style is not bad. It is kind of like owning a knock off Coach bag, but only a few people can identify a knock-off wheelchair. For my preferences, the back push handles are TOO inviting. As a full time chair use, those handles are a part of my "personal space" so if someone wouldn't touch my shoulders, they shouldn't push my chair especially without asking. My kids even get this and from age 5 on, they don't push me unless I ask. (Before age 5, it can be a handy way to keep track of kids, if they quit pushing, then I know to start looking for them because kids push all the time even when you stop.)
MY SUMMARY: A seriously good value for indoor home use. An excellent choice for a back-up chair for a wheelchair snob, but I'll be saving up for a new Quickie as my full time chair. This chair could have been my full time chair 1) if the back was adjustable to be lower, 2) if the tires had tread, and 3) if it were 3 to 5 pounds lighter.
*DEFINITION Wheelchair Snob: A wheelchair user with the attitude that medical supply sales people should not try to endorse or recommend a brand of wheelchair unless the sales person has personally used the chair constantly for a year, hauled it in/our of taxis, checked it on an airline and navigated many curbs without twisting the frame beyond what the warranty on the chair will cover.
The BIG news, Nate IS 3 years old! I took off his Oxygen for a few minutes and let him play in his cake and open presents this year. He knew what to do as he tore into his cake and presents without hesitation. He would tear the paper, peak in the package and clap with delight over each of his presents. It didn't seem possible that he was the same kid as his 1st birthday when he was so sick and so scared of his cake. It had been hard to even get a picture of him with his 1st birthday's cake because he didn't want it that close to himself! We have certainly been blessed to see God provide doctors, surgeries and continued healing to our growing toddler. It truly is hard to believe that he is the same child with whom I would wake up, and pray while listening for him to gasp his next breath, pause, pause and then the feeling of relief as he gasp again and again. What a tough, but fragile little guy; he was! Oh how hard I prayed!
Three years old!
Yeap, Nate's definately 3!
Now next week, Nate will start a developmental pre-school program two mornings a week so he can get his therapies while he is there. He seems ready to go after his couple visits, but I'm still getting geared up to actually take him and leave him for 3 hours with people who don't know what each snort, wheeze or glassy eyed expression means. Nate and I have a long list of sounds and signals that mean all sorts of things such as more Oxygen, less Oxygen, nose spray, suctioning, breathing treatments, too hot, too cold or too much air freshner/parfum/dust. However, even I know that I'm not sending him when he is actively sick and a few hours of needing a squirt of nose spray is not life theatening.....but oh, this is going to be hard....almost as hard as waiting for the next gasp. So if you could pray for Nate & me next Monday the 14th, we would each appreciate it! Nate needs to fight off the germs and keep healthy, and I'm depending on those prayers to get me through what is a little change for most folks.
Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD
hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living
thing, and the breath of all mankind. ~~Job 12:9-10