So far this week we’ve bought a new house, agreed to rent our current one out / changed our minds and think we’ll try to sell it again before we move / decided to rent it out again, signed the paper work for the new WAV to make travelling easier on us all, and I’ve taken delivery of a new piece of equipment for my craft/jewellery work.
My brain really, really hurts. Sam seems to know this, and therefore feels that what Mummy needs is to be kept awake all night so she doesn’t have to worry in her sleep. Gaaaah. Pre-Sam, buying a car was also a simple affair of how much can we afford then finding a car that fit the bill within our price range. Since Sam, such mundanity is long gone… I think we’ve test driven more vehicles in the past 6 months than I have in over 15 years! The new car needs to be wheelchair accessible - we originally thought we could get away with a normal car and put his wheelchair in the boot… then he got a new wheelchair that doesn’t fold down so much. Que rethink.
We were introduced to the lovely people at Motability, without whom I can safely say I would have lost my mind months ago, and who gently guided us through the process and yet I still manage to get confused; by being on the scheme, we in effect sacrifice Sams mobility component of the DLA so it goes directly to the motability charity. In exchange, we get a brand new car every 3 years (5 for WAVs), and our insurance and breakdown cover are included.
It took a lot of number crunching but in the end we worked out that it would save us a LOT of money over the course of 12 months. Not to mention the reduction in strain on our aging bodies… Sam is 3 and tall. Very tall. And very floppy due to low muscle tone. Getting him into his car seat has become more and more difficult as he’s grown bigger and, frankly, it isn’t very dignified having your Mother hoik you up by your pants and in effect drop you in a chair, only then to wiggle your bottom back into the seat and straighten you up so you’re in the right position to do up the straps! Poor mite.
So, early last year we decided that once he got high rate mobility as part of his DLA (when he turned 3) we’d apply for a wheelchair accessible vehicle for him. I have to say, the process has been relatively straight forward but the financial side of things scares me. Sam has a lot of equipment we have to transport with us – oxygen, suction machine, specialist chair, standing frame – and come June 2015 we’re getting a puppy to begin seizure alert dog training, so a dog crate also needs to fit in. All of this means that a standard Citroen Berlingo or similar simply won’t be big enough to accommodate all his STUFF. And that pushes the cost up through the roof.
After trying various vehicles we settled on a VW caddy 4life; Sams wheelchair sits in between the two passenger seats at the back, so its easy to reach him in an emergency and get his oxygen on him, he loved how smooth the ride was in the 4life and really loved the view he gets through the front windscreen! The only issue is the £6500 advance payment we need to find. A lot of people we’ve spoken to have cheerfully informed us that we’ve so lucky because we can get a brand new car for free… and it tests my patience every time as I smile sweetly and explain that while that may be the case if you don’t need major adaptations to the vehicle, if you do then you still have to pay *something* towards the cost of those adaptations.
Adapting a vehicle to take a wheelchair isn’t just a case of removing a seat in the back and adding securing straps – the car needs reinforcing underneath to support the wheelchairs weight, suspension needs to be tweaked to ensure a comfortable ride, and winches need to be considered as some of the wheelchairs out there are really heavy. Motability DO have a grant scheme which we’re applying to, but we’re pretty sure our income will mean we won’t be able to get much if any help.
Still, this is something that will have a huge impact on all of us so we don’t really have a choice in the matter – paper work was signed on Monday, and the 4life should be with us in around 2-3 months :)