It’s been an interesting, if challenging, week for me. Early signs, just five weeks in, with a new drug are that it is working which will give me another respite if this continues. Always a temporary respite but might last a few months or even a year or more. It’s a lottery on which I won’t ever draw a winning ticket but have had a few good small wins over the past 5.6 years so I am not complaining. It comes with more fatigue which just means I have to take things easy and I am getting better at doing that. I get it wrong some days and I have to stand back and just quietly withdraw. Bigger side effects have not yet materialised so hopefully I can tolerate it. It’s one of the expensive drugs so if it stops working they will take me off it but that is for tomorrow, I hope. Life remains a little uncertain under the NHS but I for one am eternally grateful for it, while we still have it.
I’ve also been out looking at cars and mobility scooters. I have been struggling to walk any distance for a couple of years now so I decided to apply for a Personal Independence Payment. Given the horror stories associated with PIP in recent years I was not hopeful. As 64 was the final age you could apply I was encouraged by friends to try. I know my life has become distinctly circumscribed in recent years. Although I can drive to places – Dales, nature reserves, Clumber Park, Peak District etc etc I cannot roam around them as walking is increasingly a trial. The freedom a scooter would bring would transform my life in the short term. Simple goal.
I was recently assessed and waited for the outcome. To my pleasant surprise I was awarded an enhanced mobility payment enabling me to get a leased car, buy a scooter with the savings and put the two together to get out into the countryside. Then the fun started. Car companies are able to help you with some wonderful cars which can be leased on Motability and happy to tell you of the admittedly many benefits. But they rarely have a clue about which scooters might go into which cars. So having spend a week with Skoda going backwards and forwards with different scooter models it was concluded that for the scooter I needed they do not have a car which, with a hoist, will fit it in.
So I tried the reverse approach and talked to the scooter sellers who again did not routinely know which scooters fitted in which cars but ‘helped’ me change my mind, again and again, about the best scooter for me. So I found a lovely scooter which ticked all the boxes and would enable me to go ‘off-roading’, I love the sound of that, but still not a car to fit it in. Another couple of car companies bit the dust.
So my third approach was to go to the hoist company and to ask them what scooters will fit into which cars. I had a Scooter in mind but it was not stocked there so once again a new scooter was found, actually on offer and ticking all the boxes at a more competitive price. It had the virtue of being there so I could trial it and the engineer was able to measure it. He suggested yet another car/van. The choice of the car is getting bigger all the time. With PIPT a premium is levied on the car as an advanced payment so the bigger the car the higher the payment. Was I being priced out of what had started as a simple project and my dream of off-roading reduced to rambling round the village?
Once again my long suffering son came with me as we went back to a garage from where, over 40 years ago I had bought my first ever car – a Ford Escort Popular. I had a tour around a car called the Grand Tourneo, (see pics below) I was exhausted once I had walked round it once, it seems so big. But the boot, with seats down, appears to be long enough, wide enough and having a large rear aperture to take a hoist and my preferred scooter. This was the car recommended by the firm from whom I am buying the scooter so I hope we have a fit. I have a nervous few days awaiting the phone call which will give me the green light. If this fails it will be a ford transit or small lorry neither of which are in the scheme! This may be my last chance so i’ll keep you posted.
It has been a tiring week. I am not a car lover and have always had a pragmatic approach to car buying. I get frustrated about discussing all the options. Car companies will regal me about its technical specification when I just need to know: if it’s an automatic, whether I can get into and out of the seat ok, which must be comfortable and whether it has rear parking sensors, as the bigger the car got the more frightened I become about ever parking it.
I never thought this opportunity would come along and I do hope I can pull it off. I have felt a little trapped in the last year when I cannot get to places which interest me. I also think that getting out with friends becomes possible again as they walk and I can move alongside them, not worked out a term for this yet – mobility walking, aided walking, scootering? It opens up possibilities whereas closing down opportunities has felt to be the theme of the past couple of years. It will help with the tiredness I discussed at the beginning as walking is so tiring whenever I attempt it, even over short distances. My desires are simple but I will once again get out into the country rather than just viewed through my car but ‘walking’. I am cautiously optimistic I am nearing this goal and if the new drug continues to work, I may get some time to fulfil this dream and take some more expansive photos. Watch this space for an update.