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Excel G Lite Pro wheelchair review

As someone needing a wheelchair for the first time in their life, I had no idea where to start. For weeks all my internet history was me searching the lightest, most durable, and cheapest wheelchairs in the UK. And I quickly became aware there are very few in depth wheelchair reviews out there 😂

My first wheelchair was bought when benefits were messing us about and we had no income. With asking my parents to pay us some money they owed back, we were able to buy an extremely cheap wheelchair. Say hello to the dark destroyer, who cost £59:

DD was pretty damn crucial in paving the way to us getting out the house again.

DD taught me that a wheelchair saved me pain & energy on days that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to manage. It showed us how much a chair helped in terms of my safety. But there were huge drawbacks with DD, too –

  • It was so heavy I could only self propel a few feet unless we were on optimal flooring (the shiny, hard supermarket floor!)
  • We removed the footrests to make the hefty beast lighter, but due to the bad design that left annoying spiky bits of metal that everybody kept catching themself on!!
  • It was very cumbersome & hard to move; Lyle really struggled to push me on anything but the flattest surfaces & getting me over curbs was out of the question

Introducing the Excel G Lite Pro wheelchair

This was my big purchase when two different benefits paid us a total of 18 months back payment 😉

The excel G cost us £229, and it’s a work of art. There is *so* little wrong with this beauty!

For starters, he (yes, I’ve named my chair & given it a gender 😆) weighs just 7kg. 7kg.

The difference between the weight of this chair and my last is mind blowing. I can lift Raptor with ease. He can also be tipped (for getting over steps or curbs) SO easily. We tried to illustrate that in this video:

In addition, the wheels sit much further forwards and the chair’s seat is almost at the same height as the wheel. That means it’s extremely comfortable to self propel, & takes much less energy to move myself.

With my last chair, when I pushed myself I had to bend my shoulders way back & stick my elbows right out. For someone with hypermobile joints and generic chronic pain, this isn’t good 😅 Here I am pushing DD

And here I am pushing Raptor 😍

The other thing I should mention is comfort. Not only is the padding that comes with this chair comfortable, but you can raise/lower the arm rests, and the footrests.

The fact the arm rests go down means the chair is designed to fit under tables & desks. For safety, the chair has a seatbelt which fastens around the waist, & breaks to lock each rear wheel. If you have somebody pushing the chair, there are rear pedals for them to push down on to aid in tipping the chair to get over steps/curbs/potholes.

Finally, let’s cover how easy it is to transport the chair. The chair folds in the usual fashion; you hoik the sides & it folds in on itself, to probably less than half the width. In addition though (& this is really cool for fitting in small cars), each wheel pops off with one push off a button!

The one negative I can even come up with in regards to this chair, is its width. The chair comes in 3 different seat widths. I got the 18″ seat, which is the same as my last chair – however the Excel G Lite Pro is wider overall. My other chair can fit through my front door, this one can’t. It can fit through my kitchen door though.

Not much of an issue, but worth mentioning 🙂

In conclusion, this chair is AMAZING!

For a fairly- cheap-but-good wheelchair, I cannot recommend this enough.

It’s bIggest attribute has to be it’s weight, or lack thereof. I struggled to find ANY chairs that were even within 2kg of this chair’s weight, & feeling the difference in person in terms of ease of movement, its incredible.

But aside from the lightness, this chair feels like it was designed by someone who understands what people need/want from a wheelchair. So far, I cannot fault it, & this is the best £229 I’ve ever spent 😂

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Fall-outs, weird days, depression be gone

Sorry I haven’t been posting much, I’ve been going through such an intense depressive episode 😫

It’s been really tough, I’ve shed a lot of tears and have spent most my time feeling guilty & hopeless. Add to that family arguments/conflict on both sides, the stress of PIP assessments and other benefit crap, the daily struggle of various disabilities, and the fact I’m still grieving for our dog that was PTS before Christmas…and yeah, things have been awful.

But I hope I’m kinda climbing my way out of it.

It was supposed to be my MRI this weekend, but because of how fraught things were with my parents, we phoned up and delayed it so that it could take place at the hospital 15 minutes away instead of 90+ minutes away. My EEG & neurologist appts should also be there now, too, so that’s good 🙂

In order to switch where the appts were, my partner had to ring the following:

Call the neuro switchboard. Be put through to my neuro’s secretary. Be referred to the neuro switchboard again. Be transferred to the secretary AGAIN 😂 Be pushed back to the neuro switchboard for the 3rd & final time, then referred to the x-ray department HAHAHA 😶😂

The nurse we finally spoke to, in order to switch where the referral was, couldn’t believe we’d been sent to their hospital when our local is so much closer…we were like, “yeah, us neither!” 😅

I’m really, really glad that’s sorted though.

I’m knackered tonight. Seizure cluster this evening exhausted me, so I’m heading to bed now…hoping this post makes sense…?

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Oh ffs

Thanks to the inordinate amount of stress I’m dealing with atm, it was always gonna trigger a depressive episode.

But it still really, really, REALLY sucks that it’s happened.

This is the last thing I needed right now 😞

I’m tired of my life being so, so limited. 

I’m tired of having dozens of seizures every day and living with all the after effects. Of living in fear. Of being unable to do anything for myself. Of having so little support from the NHS. Of benefits HEAPING stress onto my already difficult life. Of family & friends being totally oblivious to how awful everything is. Of my parents lacking all caring. 

I’m sick of everything…

I’m already scared of how this depressive episode is gonna go.. I hope it’s ended before Christmas 😭

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Money struggles

Gog here. If you’ve been reading Anon’s posts you will know we have been struggling a lot at the moment, with various things.

Anon’s mood has been absolutely crippling – not just depression, oh no that would be far too easy wouldn’t it, but suicidal depression alongside hateful thoughts towards herself the like of which I’ve never seen, and anxiety that means she can’t breathe when it hits her hard.

That’s been fun.

Alongside all that the rescue puppy we recently brought home has seriously injured her leg, meaning she’s been prescribed 6 weeks crate rest. Because of the lack of exercise she is being an absolute brat (hard things to deal with like barking, whining, an increase in biting which we’d almost gotten rid of etc) and she’s recently decided she doesn’t like her crate, and so whenever we shut the door she is barking and screaming constantly.

This is after we’ve put weeks into crate training and she has always loved her crate, so it’s very hard for us to deal with. I know it doesn’t sound much, but imagine being with a puppy you can’t leave because it panics her, and who barks and tries to run and bite you 24/7 because she has no release for her energy! It’s draining.

Finally we’ve had some serious money issues.

We’ve been struggling with money since the start of this year, after a manic episode brought us down to so little money we had to use a food bank…slowly our money was increasing, even after we unexpectedly brought a puppy home and she had injuries and vaccinations to deal with.

For the past 1.5 months we have had next to no money, and we haven’t known why. It has been incredibly hard to deal with as we had scary vet bills for our dog’s leg, rent bounced last month but we managed to pay it quickly, and we couldn’t afford food yesterday.

I’ve been wanting to get in touch with Anon’s bank to see if we are victims of fraud (this happened with my account a few years ago) but we either have to travel to a branch, which Anon can’t manage due to crowds, public transport, and she’d have to answer security questions – or she has to speak on the phone, something she also can’t do.

Anyway yesterday I phoned the bank and explained everything, and the person we spoke with was actually really helpful. She said she had one question to ask Anon, and it could be done on speaker-phone, so we managed that.

She then went through every transaction from May until now, and I said I was really confused because we didn’t have the money we should, but all the money out was us. Then she realised we hadn’t been getting a regular income payment, it hadn’t come in for the last 6 weeks.

It turns out Employment and Support Allowance had stopped paying us, for absolutely no reason, so for the last 6 weeks we had been living on £220 a month – no wonder we had been struggling with money. I’d really have appreciated it if they had contacted us to let us know they weren’t paying us!

I phoned them up, and the gentleman I spoke to on the phone was absolutely amazing – I wish I had got his name to tell someone he was so kind to us. He said the problem was on their end, and he was so sorry we had had to go through this.

He had to speak to Anon twice, but only in that he had to read things to her and she had to say she agreed – before each time he asked her if she was okay.

Anyway, they are back-paying us £900 which should be here Friday-Monday. We will be able to buy food 🙂

Then today I had to phone up Personal Independence Payment, as we got a stupid letter through the post saying that we must send them evidence about how ill Anon is. Which is ridiculous, as we don’t have anyone who would send evidence, because we have been waiting these past seven months for Anon to see a psychiatrist!!

You can see my issues with PIP here.

I phoned the PIP number, and the person I spoke with was initially very rude and unhelpful – refusing to speak to me and demanding to speak to Anon. Wow yeah, if you think you can talk to her when she is psychotic, suicidal and suffering from a panic attack, go ahead you moron…

Of course I didn’t say that and I’d never put Anon in that position. I patiently explained again and again she couldn’t talk on the phone, I was her registered carer etc.

Finally she was willing to speak with me. I explained there wasn’t any evidence we could send, but if they could access medical records they could see our recent dealings with the NHS – countless appointments with people who prescribed emergency medication and contacted Crisis Team, and obviously our recent trip to A&E because Anon was suicidal, and how the police were called afterwards. I said that should be evidence enough to support everything we had put on the form.

That was pretty much it. I just know they won’t count that as evidence, because it’s not the same as being able to write and talk with a person who has seen Anon several times…but it’s all I can give them, and if anything it should show how bad things are better than talking to a Doctor.

I’m scared that either they are going to give us the same rate again, or more so that they will want to do a face-to-face meeting with Anon (the last one they did, years ago, was terrible.)

How can I explain to them that we can’t even do bloody medical appointments with Anon because she has the most terrifying panic attacks whenever I so much as mention them, so a PIP appointment is a definite no no? They won’t understand that, they won’t even try…

And that’s the end of my money whinging. I sure hope things pick up soon!

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Slowing down with mania

Gog here again. I seem to write a lot when Anon isn’t doing so well. Helps me feel like I’m pulling my weight with this blog.

Anon’s thoughts are speeding today which ironically often makes her much slower at talking and typing. It can take several hours to write a blog, if she’s able to concentrate long enough to write one at all.

Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it, mania slowing her down.

But because Anon’s head is racing so fast she can’t pluck the words out as they rush past, and she can’t focus on conversing – she once described it by saying “imagine you have a bowl of earthworms, all wriggling about and identical. You are looking for one specific earthworm, and you only have a short time to find it…it’s impossible!”

She quite often talks in analogies when she is ill, it makes it easier for her. Maybe it’s the writer in her. Some of these analogies are hilarious, some are amazingly clever.

One time she said her brain is like a sponge saturated with water because of all the racing thoughts and hallucinations, and trying to concentrate on the TV or what people are saying is impossible because she can’t soak up anymore information…I love her analogies, they’re clever and they help me to get a glimpse into how she is doing too.

Anyway today at points she has really really struggled to talk – earlier today it took her several minutes to manage to form one sentence, but she did it. “You know I……read…that……when – no, with….Mini Lops…” etc.

THIS IS YET ANOTHER WAY SHE STRUGGLES TO COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE.

Yet the benefits system says she “just” talks fast?? She’s manic right now, so in the best place she ever is for talking with others as long as her psychosis isn’t too bad, but she couldn’t talk to anyone right now.

Thoughts keep getting stolen from her head which unnerves her too. Halfway through a sentence she will stop talking and the entire sentence, topic, whatever, has just completely vanished. She thinks her thoughts have been stolen from her head, and then worries that if people can take her thoughts they can insert their thoughts into her head too.

Nevertheless we’re in a much better place than we usually are, we just need to stop this mania from rising any higher.

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From 0 to 100

Gog here

Such small things trigger such severe mood episodes.

We’d been doing well for two, maybe even three weeks. Anon wasn’t stable, but she was doing great. Days were enjoyable and Anon was trying hard to avoid stress and cope with symptoms.

Then I tried to sort out some benefit information, and as ever they asked to speak to Anon on the phone.

Now even though I am her registered carer, and Anon’s illness means she can’t talk on the phone, AND I am on the records, they insist they go through security questions with Anon before they will talk to me about anything.

The security questions vary in length; the shortest is just getting Anon to give her name, date of birth, and agree that I can talk for her…if they make it longer for no apparent reason they try get her to talk to them about why I’m phoning, too.

Because Anon’s anxiety, paranoia and psychosis has gotten so bad this past year, I no longer try and pressure her to talk on the phone – it doesn’t help.

A few days ago I made the huge mistake of saying “they want to talk to you for security checks…?” and it completely broke her. She completely shut down and sat staring at nothing, crying. This is what no professional or assessor can ever understand; if Anon struggles with something (even if to them it is insignificant) it is enough to cause an episode.

This is why saying she “just” needs to do it doesn’t help, at all.

Since Tuesday her mood has been much worse. She’s still trying hard, but the stress certainly has triggered an episode.

Today we walked to a nearby supermarket to pick up a handful of items. I asked Anon how she was doing and she was low, anxious and very paranoid.

As soon as we entered the supermarket she began to panic; too much stimulation, too bright, too many people etc. Within two minutes of entering Anon had to leave. She sat outside whilst I grabbed a few things.

By the time we got home ten minutes later Anon was really, really struggling.

She took 5mg of Valium, and the great thing about this med is that it works insanely quickly – within 20 minutes she was far less anxious, and after an hour or so she fell asleep and had three hours rest.

When she woke up she was still struggling, bouncing from coping well to being surprisingly angry (Valium side-effect, we did notice it last time?) and feeling like she’s about to burst  into tears.

She’s just taken 2.5mg of Valium to see if it can soothe her and help her sleep, as we haven’t been to bed yet and it’s 5.30am.

If anybody is wondering, she was prescribed these Valium a while back, and told to take such a high dose by an idiotic Doctor that we have a lot left over. I have no problem with Anon taking meds we have in the house if she needs to, at a low dose especially.

It’s not like the NHS  are helping her.

We’ve been waiting 21 days now for the service to get back in touch after the emergency GP appointment

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The problems with PIP

Gog here.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Also if you didn’t know, it has been made much harder to qualify for anybody who is disabled, but the new forms and point system make it significantly harder for people with mental illnesses to qualify.

Anon received the same amount of DLA for about six years: Highest Care rate, and Lower mobility rate.

When she was switched to PIP the form to fill in was novel-like in its’ thickness.

A lot of the questions are biased to people with physical ailments – it isn’t so much about if you’re a danger to yourself or need supervising, it’s more focused on can you *physically* manage to communicate, feed yourself, eat, wash, dress etc.

We filled the form out and sent it off, then waited. And waited. And waited.

At some point we had a face-to-face assessment, and as Anon was manic at the time I tried to do a lot of the talking, but the assessor wouldn’t write down anything I said and kept saying “[Anon] can tell me herself”. It was ridiculous because Anon was saying how great she was, when she was actually very ill, but they wouldn’t listen to me.

This is a huge issue, and assessors ARE supposed to listen to carers / family.

Close to a year later we were told Anon would be getting the standard (lower) PIP rate. She had scored 11 points; 12 points gets the higher rate.

Considering they hadn’t given her several points they certainly should have, I started an appeal, & visited with a local charity who sent the appeal off. We then received a letter from PIP that we needed to sign so the charity could speak on our behalf, so we signed that and sent it off.

18 months later we received a letter with the same thousand page form to fill in. Sigh…

There was no explanation as to why we had to fill it in again, so I obviously assumed they had finally gotten around to our appeal. I helped Anon fill it out and, as she had started having psychotic symptoms 24/7 since the last one, her symptoms were different and her illness worse.

Several weeks later we were given yet another face-to-face assessment.

This was disastrous as Anon is too ill to do anything like that – if she can’t manage medical appointments, how would she manage an assessment where they are automatically against her?! She can’t even talk to strangers on the street for Pete’s sake!!!

Anyway, we ended up missing and having to belatedly cancel the appointment because it was just a few days after we went to A&E, and I was told it would be no trouble & PIP would be in touch to arrange another.

Yesterday we got a letter through the post, it was PIP saying they had looked at our details and awarded Anon 11 points, the same as before – one point off getting the higher rate.

This is despite the fact Anon is most certainly entitled to the higher rate, and despite the fact that her symptoms have changed drastically and worsened since the last time we filled out the form.

Also, and this is absolutely disgusting, they awarded Anon 0 points for communication, saying she *can* communicate with others – she can’t talk to strangers, often can’t manage to interact normally with her friends or family, and sometimes people can’t understand her. PIP had written out this exact quote:

“You are able to communicate, just speak faster than normal”

First of all that is so belittling to somebody with Bipolar disorder, and shows absolutely no understanding of a manic episode.

Secondly we wrote three paragraphs for that section and just one sentence referred to the fact that Anon spoke fast when manic!!!

I phoned PIP immediately and tried to start an appeal, but wasn’t sure I could after already appealing once.

Guess what? The first appeal never went through, they had all the information but they just never did it. According to them we had never made an appeal. Disgusting!

I was told someone would phone me back, and in the meantime spoke with a charity and was directed to an amazing webpage that gives out fantastic information about PIP and the points system.

From this we discovered that where they had granted Anon just 11 points total, she should actually have scored at least 26 points. How disgusting is that?

For the mobility part they had given her 4 points, when I was told she should actually get 12:  “Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid” – this would mean she would be entitled to the higher (enhanced) mobility rate.

The fact that both times we filled in this form they gave Anon 11 points (when her symptoms changed between each form) shows how they will sneak you out of the higher rate.

Also terrible is that at no point do they tell you how many points you could get for each section – they say you got 2 points, but not 2 out of 12 for example.

For engaging with other people Anon was awarded 2 points, which we thought was the highest she could have been given – it actually turns out she should have got this:

“Cannot engage with other people due to such engagement causing either –
(i) overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant; or
(ii) the claimant to exhibit behaviour which would result in a substantial risk of harm to the claimant or another person. 8 points.”

This is why I urge people again to look at this site – these are the exact quotes and tally system that they use, so if you can say to them for example “I need communication support to be able to understand basic verbal information” you can not make it anymore obvious for them how many points you are entitled to.

If Anon was living on her own I have no doubt she would not be receiving PIP

She would not have managed to fill in the form, she certainly wouldn’t have been able to attend the assessment, and she wouldn’t have been able to phone them or start an appeal.

They make it so hard for people with serious mental health problems to a. get the amount they deserve, and b. be able to fight for those points.

Remember when I said she scored 0 for communication? Here is what she should actually have got: “Needs communication support to be able to express or understand basic verbal information – 8 points

Finally for the mobility section she was given 4 points, which was “Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant.”

Actually she should get, at the very least, ” Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid.10 points” – this would mean she should get the lower mobility rate, at least.

I am writing this to show that people with serious mental illnesses are being cheated out of the help they deserve.

We struggle for money. We have had to use a food bank. Our lives are incredibly, incredibly difficult.

We are not lazy. We are not ‘benefit scum’.

My partner is drastically ill and our lives are a struggle. Anon struggles with the most basic things, and because she can’t speak to people / on the phone, it is hard for me to sort out a lot of things because (even though I’m her registered full-time carer) they will not talk to me. What do they want me to do??

We should be offered help and understanding, yet here I am having to fight tooth and nail for money from the government and for help from the NHS.

Contrary to how the media reports it, we don’t get much money.

We can generally manage very well with money, but Anon’s manic episodes often cause huge issues. Right now for example (with Anon’s last manic a month or so back) we have around £600 to our name; rent is £450 a month.

I try my hardest to manage manias and money; even though it’s hard we’ve never missed paying rent, bills, & have never had debt.

This idea that people on benefits are lazy and are rolling in cash needs to stop, it’s so damaging to those that are struggling.

When Anon was first struggling with depression, mania & psychosis, I got a job so we wouldn’t have to rely on benefits. We both wanted to work.

But when me working put her life at risk, I had to quit after 6 weeks, and I have been her full-time carer ever since. We even tried to run our own business, but again the stress was  too much for Anon and the resulting mood episodes put her in danger.

After that we volunteered at least weekly, but again had to stop as her illness deteriorated.

It is not easy, and we are doing our best.