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Friday, June 4, 2010


Hi. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Danielle and I'm writing this blog because I need a new power wheelchair, and I have been thus far unable to get one. Don't worry, if you're interested in the details behind my need for said wheelchair, I will blog about my life story at a later date. For now, it suffices to say that, 20 years ago, I was born at 27 weeks gestation, and as a result I have Cerebral Palsy.

About the wheelchair issue: Right now, I'm on my second power chair. It's eight years old, and was part of the last shipment of chairs before the Canadian wheelchair manfacturer Everest & Jennings went out of business. Basically, this chair was discontinued before ever I got it. So, the only parts availble to repair it are recycled from other chairs that have already broken down. Not ideal. I'm sure you are stratching your head wondering why my parents would choose a discontinued wheelchair for me. Well, they didn't.

In Manitoba, and in fact, accross the country, wheelchairs are paid for by the goverment. Before you take that as a credit to Canada's eutopian socialist society (with public health care), consider this. When you are approved to receive a chair from Society for Manitobans with Disabilities Wheelchair Services Program, you have a choice of exactly one model of wheelchair. The add-on features you recieve (tilt etc.) are determined entirely by the OT assessing you. The person / family actually using the chair doesn't get a say in any aspect of the process. In the last five years, SMD has even gone as far as far as to say that they will only order the chairs in black. I know that's not of paramount importance, but for me color is a huge deal. I see my chair as an accessory of sorts. At least with my first 2 chairs, when I picked purple and blue respectively, the prescribed model of chair became "fun" in my eyes.

But the biggest issue with this system is that SMD will not give my new chair until the one I have can no longer be repaired with their stash of recycled parts. Usually, this means a year or so of constant breakdowns, followed my a 3-6 month waiting period before the new chair actually arrives. I do not want to go through that. I live alone in Downtown Winnipeg and I'm a full time university student with a grad school ambitions. When my chair stops, I stop. It's unacceptable.

So, together with one of my best friends in the world, Jesse, I'm embarking on a journey of fundraising to buy a chair of my own. At the moment, I'm set on the Permobil C300 PS (in Pop Star Pink), but I won't know for sure until I have a demo. It will cost somewhere between $14,000- $21,000 depending on whether I opt for tilt. It's exciting, and scary, and I think I m might be nuts, but I promise you, if you stick around, you're in for a fun read.

Pictures to come later :)