- Gender: Female
- Condition: Multiple Sclerosis
- Prior Device: Merits Power Wheelchair, TiLite Manual Wheelchair
- Main Use: Work, house chores, errands, outings — everything!
What’s your story?
I was diagnosed with MS in 2002. Quickly thereafter, my legs developed spasticity, which made my legs progressively more stiff. I transitioned from a cane, to a rollator, then a wheelchair, and finally, a power wheelchair. I fought it every step of the way, I’ve even called myself ‘disabled in denial’. I was always on the lookout for innovative equipment that didn’t have the typical ‘disabled’ look because I questioned, “Why do I have to compromise style?”
Being in a power wheelchair has been a difficult transition, as there really isn’t anything available that does not remind me of my disability. On my continued research I found WHILL when they only had a prototype. I’ve followed WHILL since, and now my dream of driving one has become a reality.
Why did you choose Model M?
WHILL Model M has just about the same footprint of my manual wheelchair, which is paramount, as I’m a school teacher and need to navigate tight spaces in classrooms. I move around the room, move from a desk to student stations that require getting close to computers, and to be in reach of necessary materials. The power sliding seat allows me to interact in a more natural way while teaching or meeting with colleagues. When I sit at meetings, my Model M blends in with all other chairs, which allows people to focus on me as an individual rather than try to accommodate the footprint of my old chair.
What do you like about Model M?
I love how I can get close enough to doors that I can open them by myself. The power sliding seat allows for a much smoother transfer to sit with proper posture at any desk or table. I love that I don’t feel like I’m driving a car making three point turns, instead I can do a full 360, which is so useful when having to address multiple students. Also, I don’t have to transfer from an indoor device to an outdoor one because Model M’s all-wheel drive can handle multiple terrains and obstacles with ease.
How has WHILL impacted your life?
I really enjoy that it doesn’t scream disabled. It’s had a positive psychological impact, as I’m more eager to go out and actually enjoy the attention that the Model M gets rather than the pity stares I used to get.
Honestly, it’s so comfortable that, when I go out now, I can make several stops instead of one because I’m not as exhausted as when I had my old power chair.
Note: Ivy had an extensive test drive with a demo unit.