On Friday Key Medical brought out two wheelchairs for me to trial. One of them had a chin joystick and the other had a sip and puff. After getting so frustrated a few weeks ago when I tried the sip and puff and couldn't get it, I decided I wanted to try the chin joystick to see if I would like it. They brought out both ways to drive it so that I could compare the two and figure out which one I wanted to use to drive my new wheelchair.
I tried the chin joystick first. It's just like a regular joystick for a wheelchair; you push it forward to go forward, back to go back and so on. You have to keep pressure on it the whole time otherwise if you let go the chair stops. That means it's in an unlatched mode. As soon as I started I got it down right away. It was really easy. I was able to navigate through the door outside, down the sidewalk and around the driveway to the side of the house. I practiced for about 20 minutes; trying to learn everything I could about it.
After trialing that chair, I transferred into the chair with the sip and puff. I was a little hesitant at first since I had so much trouble with the last time, but I kept an open mind because I didn't want to give up on it. To my amazement, it took about two minutes for me to get it. Just like the chin joystick I was out into the side of the house in no time.
The sip and puff is also known as a breath control, although you don't actually use your breath to control it. You use pressure to puff into it and sip, just like you would a straw. Depending on what you do depends on which way you move. After trialing both I decided that I liked the S&P better. The major reason why is because like I said before with the chin joystick you have to keep constant pressure on it. When using the S&P, it can be set in a latched mode so you can give it a hard puff to go forward and it will just go. It can also be set on an unlatched mode where you have to continuously puff into it to get it to move, but after a while that gets really tiring and my cheeks would hurt. It was a good thing that they brought out both chairs and gave me the choice between two options instead of just one.
They let me keep the power wheelchair with the sip and puff to trial until this Friday. There's just one problem with this chair and that's that it's too small for me and extremely uncomfortable. I lean to the side because there is no support. I've used it Friday, Saturday and Sunday so far. Today I went into my old power wheelchair (the one that doesn't work) to give my body a break and some support.
Tomorrow I have a doctors appointment at Gillette to get Botox injections in my neck and shoulders again. I'm going to use the trial chair to go there because I want to see how I do with it out in public. I'm kind of nervous right now because if something happens with the chair I'll be stuck out somewhere. It should be okay though because the guy from the company is going to meet me out there to help if I need anything, which is really good. After tomorrow I don't think I'll get in it again because it causes me too much pain.
I should be able to get my new wheelchair ordered by the end of the week. I have to make a few decisions still before that can happen. I'm not sure yet as far as the timeperiod on when I'm going to get it. The wheelchair has to be approved by medical assistance first, and that could take a couple months. I will keep you updated as I know more.