Solving the ambulance-wheelchair problem…

… and also avoiding further damage to my legs (there is no doubt in my mind that the devastating resurgence of Lymphoedema was caused by being deprived of my wheelchair for a week by the ambulance crew who refused to transport it).

Originally the chair was set up to carry a holdall in front of me. Since the growth of the ulcer on my right leg, and the return of Lymphoedema and subsequent bursting of my left, that’s no longer feasible (way too painful and potentially damaging). Add in the dangerously unhelpful ambulance crew who refused to transport my small manual wheelchair (and who also connected me to an oxygen bottle they’d forgotten to turn on!), and it all needed a rethink.

This is it:-


The “rocket launchers” are my crutch-holders, and the red caps (held in place with black shirring elastic), are to cover the slightly sharp edges where the former plastic mailing tubes were cut to size (PVC pipe of an appropriate diameter would do just as well). I melted the cut edges with a small blow-torch, so that a bead formed, but there are still some sharp spots – this seemed to be the easiest solution, as when applying a flame to plastic unwanted meltdown is always close.

The repurposed bootlace across the seat back is to tension the fleece seat cover (if you spend a lot of time in a chair, they really are worthwhile). I might add a seat-back tensioner (a.k.a. comfort strut), so that the weight of the full rucksack doesn’t stress the uprights (though as they’re designed to support me and to be pushed, that might be unlikely. Still, cheaper to be safe than sorry. Do shop around, though – there are substantial savings to be had. Cheapest I’ve found is here,** 25% cheaper than the next closest.

**They seem unsure whether they’re in stock or not!

I had planned to take enough spare PJs for a month in hospital, as I have no-one to bring in clean ones, but sod that now, I’ll pack one set plus whatever I’m wearing at the time – I can always wear hospital PJs if I’m in for more than a week.**see footnote

Adequate toiletries are a must, as are my electronics and their chargers – my smartphone (Galaxy S3), wifi/3G tablet (Lenovo A8-50 – the best tablet I’ve found so far), and two duplicate Kindles so that I can carry on reading while one’s on charge. The tablet can also be pressed into service as a reader. if necessary. I also need room for my meds, depending on what part of my re-ordering cycle I’m in I could have a small suitcase full, or none, and my rechargeable tyre pump (and charger), to keep my tyres at my preferred 120lb psi (hard tyres make for easier rolling). Obviously, I’ll have no idea how long a stay I’m in for – the shortest to date has been 5 days, the longest almost 7 weeks – and tyres naturally deflate as the CO2 leaks away through the innertube material.

To accommodate all that I might well need an underseat bag as well. Trouble is, these are either way too big for my chair, or about the size of a woman’s purse – both equally useless, so it’s time to have a rummage and see if something I already have can be repurposed in the way the rucksack has – that’s saved me the thick end of £50.

And then we come to the second phase. I’ll ensure I’m in my chair when the ambulance crew arrives, and I will flatly refuse to move – they either take me and my chair, or they return empty and I do all in my power to get them fired. Assuming that their refusal doesn’t kill me…

So, tomorrow, I’ll get the rucksack packed – no point in leaving it empty as there’s no telling when the next crisis will strike.


**I might have to rethink that, too. My PJs all have shorts because of the damage to, and dressings on, my legs and hospital PJs are long. Like most long PJ trousers they have gaping flies, and unless one wears underwear as well, modesty is hard to cling on to. It will take up little more room to pack PJ shorts than to pack boxers.

5 thoughts on “Solving the ambulance-wheelchair problem…

  1. Okay 👌, Ron,
    Which hospital are you going to and guess what? There really are kind and caring people out here who do not like to see a fellow cook go without their dignity in hospital. What happens to people without family to care for them? I really don’t know. I will get a petition going if I have to.
    You are soooo resourceful, and I am seriously impressed. So…mention the hospital 🏥 and keep the posts going.

    • I have given the hospital a very public – and deserved – kicking in the past but I’ve backed off from mentioning them now as the way things are going I’m likely to need them much more than they need me – I can’t afford to piss them off even more! And in fairness, letting me out of hospital at the time could have killed me. But could isn’t the same was would, and if I was willing to take the risk they should have been too. As it is, forcing me to be on my feet for a week has caused a massive Lymphoedema relapse which, if it gets infected, could also kill me. And no, not exaggerating, sadly.

      Having said all that, and with no further criticism intended, it’s Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral.

      The main problem is the ambulance service. Claiming they had no room was a blatant lie. The thing is, because of my Addison’s status, I get a priority service which could be a life-saver, so I can’t afford to piss them off either! Otherwise I’d be looking for legal advice.

    • I forgot, when I wrote this post, that I have done this in the past. Sat in my chair (a different one but about the same size), and just said – I paraphrase – Me and my chair – we go together. Didn’t get an argument.

      That’s something I learned many years ago. Asking (Is it OK if I bring my chair?), gives them the chance to turn you down. Telling them (I’m staying in my chair – it’s coming with me), doesn’t give them that chance. And that was the mistake I made last time.

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