Last year, when I decided to apply to become a Quantum brand ambassador, I was nervous. Being a manual wheelchair user for most of my life, I questioned whether I really needed power mobility and if I’d be a good fit for the role. I hadn’t used a power chair for any significant amount of time. I had no idea how it could impact my day-to-day life and how it would increase my abilities. In retrospect, this was an absolutely ridiculous line of thinking, as well as a lesson I had learned years ago. I was downright angry when someone suggested to second-grade Jill that a manual wheelchair would really help me as a tool in addition to my crutches. Later, I discovered I could push faster and longer and that a manual wheelchair was a super useful device.
How My Power Chair Helps Me Get Coffee
Upon receiving my Stretto with iLevel® Technology, it was like reinventing my second-grade self. Turns out, there’s always room for new tools in our ability repertoire. I had my first “ah ha!” moment during morning coffee. Holding a mug full of a hot beverage in a manual wheelchair is a bit of a dance. You can’t hold it in your lap (nor should you) and you’re pushing one wheel at a time, using your arms to push off walls and furniture to maintain momentum. Then, once you put the coffee down on a surface, you can comfortably readjust and keep yourself on track. The activity could probably count for a day’s worth of cardio on its own.
I had my mug in hand, mentally preparing myself for all the usual propulsion points, when I looked down and realized that all I had to do was use the joystick. I could even move my power wheelchair and drink the coffee at the same time. I could take a pit stop to look out the window at the snow storm, have a nonsense conversation with my dogs, grab my notebook from the other room, and then cruise into my office. I could do all of this while holding the coffee (and sometimes the dog too) comfortably.
Obviously, this is an extremely small activity in the grand scheme of things, however, carrying coffee around my house at a comfortable pace was something I’ve never done. These small day-to-day moments started to add up.
Taking Out the Trash with iLevel
Taking out the trash was a similar perilous ride. If you weren’t holding the trash bag high enough, it’d rub on the ground, inevitably get stuck on something, and leak gross garbage juice across the house. Elevated at iLevel, I can carry three bags at a time and easily put them into the trash can. No more trying to hammer throw leaking garbage into the bin at an upward angle.
I’ve never felt like I’ve lacked independence. Now, I realize how much more efficiently I can move and discovering I can complete activities I hadn’t even considered (I’m looking at you, snow shovel I never used.) I’m ecstatic about my power wheelchair. We all benefit from different tools in our artillery to make our lives better. I can say with certainty that this is a tool that grants me a far more able life.
About Jill Moore White: Jill is an inclusive play specialist, bringing accessible playgrounds to local communities. She volunteers with disability organizations, including the Disability EmpowHER Network. Jill enjoys music, sketching and playing video games. Click here to learn more about Jill.
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