Instead I used a machine (it is not a wheelchair in the sense you know) which enabled me to live as the able-bodied self I had grown up as. To be fair, that machine was a prototype when it was new and is now nearly ten years old. If it were a horse it should be put out to pasture - spend its retiring years in the lap of work-free luxury. To use an experimental (and some will know that that means temperamental) Dan Everard design was preferable to any of the best wheelchairs on the market. I had no choice.
When I took driving lessons in a car all the obvious comments were made - how easy it would be and how good at driving I would be because I had been using wheels all my life. Do you know how many times I have heard "careful speedy - did you take a driving test for that?" as I walked past people - funny.
How frustrating then that I could not do it - I could not master a car on my first lesson. Like every other learner driver I got in the car thinking "how hard can this be?" - HARD. Because, like every other pedestrian, I had never moved in a way which did not come instinctively. I failed my driving test twice before I passed, yet there had been a point before my second birthday when I would be told off for knocking into things in my first chair - my parents and I knew that it was my own clumsiness and not the fault of the machine.
I have been asked to give anecdotes of my life using my Turbos and Dragon, but the more I try to think of them the more I realise that it is rather like asking you for stories specifically about your legs and feet - it is unlikely you have many - they were just what got you between your anecdotes.
Now, after all the perseverance, the prototypes and experimentation have paid off. My ten-year-old Dragon is about to go into retirement and the new generation is here - bring it on.
Ruth Everard, September 2003