Thursday, 5 October 2017

In which I grumble, and I don't.

Sometimes, it is all just too much. But rather than try and explain the absence, I'm going to just get on with it.  Unlike me, I know, but I'm trying to turn over a new leaf.  You know, more of the live and let live,  less of the grumbling.  Except I'm going to start by grumbling.  Well, kind of.  Bear with me.

We're lucky to be able to run two vehicles, but a couple of people have commented that they don't match.  Not match as in complementary colours, but match as in they don't seem like two vehicles that would be owned by the same family.  

The usual transportation is TheCar.  Electric car, boot big enough for the wheelchair, and great for sneaking up on people in when you're in a supermarket car park (seriously - people pushing trolleys laden with groceries rarely look over their shoulders before they veer gently off the pavement > over the road > towards their car - after all, they'd HEAR if there was anything coming, wouldn't they?  No.  Not necessarily).  So, electric car combined with the solar panels on the roof mean we get to feel righteous about the lack of fumes while keeping track of all the free-to-use 3 pin chargers in the city (which are disappearing every month, so we need to buy a lead - can you imagine?  Having to buy a new charger wire for your car 😯?)

There's TheVan, a pretty old, diesel powered thing, which fits all of us in (including the dogs, the wheelchair and shopping when necessary).  But it's a bugger to park, noisy to ride in, and hard work to lift Smiler in to.  He's 16 now, same height as me, and weighs about 65kg (10 stone plus a bit in old money), and lifting him in to TheVan is ... well, it isn't as easy as it was a few years ago, put it that way.
Nothing to do with TheCar or TheVan - this is Meg, our aging kitty cat

The theory behind needing the van isn't, as some may assume, to do with going on holiday (because we haven't done that in ...erm... roughly nine years.  It isn't even mainly about the distance that TheCar limits us to (though that could be interesting when it came to Smiler's six monthly hip checks at Southampton).  It's about it being a van.  A van which, if/as/when it becomes necessary, we could adapt to being able to push Smiler into via ramp or lift, if/as/when he is no longer able to walk.  You can see I'm covering all the bases there - that's because every couple of years there's a new health crisis that makes it appear that that is where we're heading.  In the very early days we were told he wouldn't walk, he wouldn't be capable of learning how.  Then came the seizures that lasted for hours, and meant he was constantly exhausted.  Then the almost organ failure.  Then he started taking steps - with the support of a walking frame and people moving his feet.   Then, by chance, we found out neither of his hips had any socket, and we were faced with him needing a stretcher bed as he wouldn't be able to sit, unless he had major surgery and it all went far better than everyone dared hope that it would.  After the surgery, rehab was a nightmare, and recovery took a long long time.  Then seizures again.  Then Smiler's physical skills began to decline, and no one knew why.  He could hardly walk, then couldn't walk, then couldn't stand.  Then more meds.  Which is why it still feels like tempting fate to believe he won't be a full time wheelchair user in years to come.  I need to be really clear here - I don't consider him being a full time wheelchair user to be the end of the world - I've known to many other young people and their families facing far worse to ever think that.   But it would be a change.  Right now, *whispers*  we don't even have a hoist in the house.  Because he's on his feet,  and so much more stable than two years ago, when he started to decline.  But we never know what is around the corner.  Which is why we still own our horribly polluting diesel TheVan.  Because getting rid of it would feel like tempting fate, like we were proclaiming "hey, look, we don't need a van, he can transfer, he can weightbear, he can walk.  No van here, just a car, like an ordinary family".

But back to TheVan and TheCar. 

This last fortnight, both TheVan and TheCar have been misbehaving.  TheVan was due an MOT, so Mr dutifully dropped it off and ran home (literally ran - it's a thing he does. For fun. No, I don't understand it either).  A few hours later got a phone call saying it had passed (I know!) so he arranged to pick it up the next morning.  He ran there, paid the bill, walked out to TheVan (dripping with sweat - it was a seven mile run) and said "Um, this big dent,  that wasn't here when I brought it in.  Also the bumper was completely attached, not hanging off at an artistic angle..."  Someone had hit it, while it was in the garage.  Garage accepted responsibility (obvs) and said they'd sort it.  So Mr ran home (yes, ran - no TheVan, no choice).

Riley - my very own black dog (the irony).  Also nothing to do with TheVan or TheCar

A few days later had a phone call - new bumper, and the bodywork was being done that morning, so we (I say 'we', I mean Mr) could collect it that afternoon.  Yay!  Two o'clock, another phone call - "We couldn't get it to start when we were trying to drive it back to the garage from the bodywork place, and then it ...erm... Well, there was a lot of smoke, and it might have caught fire".   Might have caught fire.  They weren't sure.  So they towed it back to the garage, and had a look.  Turns out it hadn't caught fire, there was just a lot of thick black smoke, but the starter motor had died and had to be replaced.  I think the garage took pity on us since they only charged us for the part, with nothing on top for the labour. So finally, over a week after it passed the MOT, TheVan was home.  Yay!  All sorted!  So. 

Mr parked TheVan and got into TheCar, and collected Smiler from school.  All good.  Parked TheCar on the drive, then realised he needed to move it up to fit TheVan on next to it.  Tried to move TheCar, but the handbrake wouldn't release.  At all.  So the next day, TheCar had to be towed off the drive and into the garage.   They sorted it and we smiled and nodded as we were told how lucky we were they'd been able to fix it without needing a new caliper, because that would have cost £180 for the new caliper plus VAT plus two hours labour at £95/hour (hands up if you too are in the wrong job, and are now interested in learning how to fix cars), while since they'd sorted it without needing the new part we only owed for the labour.

And I thought that was the end of the story, but after writing the rest of this yesterday morning, we collected Smiler from school yesterday afternoon, parked TheCar on the drive, and the brake - the one that was locked on - won't engage.  So Mr drove it back to the garage this morning, and we are once again TheCar less, because the brake is now locked .

This is why we don't like to tempt fate - it's all swings and roundabouts.  And here comes the opposite of grumbling bit (well done for sticking with me so far, do treat yourself to a biscuit in a minute, I'm almost done...

TheVan got bumped, but if it had been anywhere other than the garage we would have had to pay to get it fixed, as no one owned up to having hit it.  But as it was in the care of the garage, they sorted it through their insurance, so we actually ended up with a brand new bumper for nothing.  And if the starter motor (which has been behaving temperamentally for the last 18 months) had given up the ghost a day later, and started billowing smoke when Smiler was around, we would have had to pay to get it towed, then paid for the labour getting the new starter motor fitted, as well as dealing with Smiler's anxiety and likely refusal from then on to get in TheVan.  The brake in TheCar got stuck, yes, but when TheVan was back - not while it was gone, which would have left us with no vehicle (which always feels just a little bit dangerous).  So yes, it would be easy to focus on the bad stuff, but that's just part of the picture.  So that's me, not grumbling.  Onwards and upwards, looking on the bright side, taking time to smell the roses, dancing in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass.

Let's see how long that lasts 😉

Some of the sixty odd cupcakes I made for Smiler to take and share with various friendship groups for his birthday.   Yummy, and yes, nothing to do with TheCar or TheVan
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1 comment:

  1. Yaaaaay for not grumbling - glad your wheels are working again and great to get an update


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