When Mojo first got her wheelchair it was so exciting. This small buggy like chair which was fitted to support her needs exactly. The length of each bone in her legs was measured, the exact angle to best support her difficult hip joint, the correct strap lengths to support without limiting her movements. It was a prescription chair, bespoke and truly liberating for her to be able to have a ‘grown up’ chair of her own.
|Mojo’s first fittings|
Since then the wheelchair has been everywhere with us. It is battered, scratched, it’s been covered in food (and sick, lots and lots of sick). It’s been on the receiving end of a significant amount of what my granddad used to call Navy language as I’ve wrestled with it in the pouring rain or caught my foot on the brake which clamps shut like a vice. We’ve driven it over beaches, cobbles, woodland trails and approximately one million muddy puddles. It’s been on buses, trains, boats, aeroplanes, even a horse and cart. It’s almost like a pet, its something that comes everywhere with us. We love it, it is a part of Mojo and it gives us all far more freedom than we could have without it.
The only problem we’ve had with it is it’s size. Living in a Victorian terrace, space is not abundant so during the week when it’s used just for the school run it lives in the boot of the car. When our car was stolen last January we thanked God that we had removed the chair from the boot the night before. Imagine we said, what we would have done if that had been stolen.
Fast forward a year, almost to the day, and I arrive outside school (late, as ever) on a freezing cold morning and open the boot to get the chair out only to find it’s not there. My first thought was that I’d forgotten to put it in the boot but I knew that we hadn’t used the wheelchair the previous day so it was definitely in the boot.
|Flower girl throne|
|COVERED in food|
I think I must have repeated the words ‘WHO DOES THAT?’ thousands of times over the course of the morning. I felt violated, worse I felt that Mojo had been violated, that someone had stolen a part of her, someone had stolen her legs. I felt that I had allowed that to happen, that I’d not protected her from it.
I cried with anger as I carried her from the car to school, it was the only choice I had. She’s too big to carry these days and it felt undignified. Despite my carrying her regularly at home, out and about feels different. I was so deeply sad and so blazingly angry.
I’ve had to tell myself that whoever took it mustn’t have known what it was. That they must have thought it was a fancy pushchair. I don’t even like to think about where it might be now, dumped somewhere, sold for scrap? It’s not like children’s NHS wheelchairs are a typical stolen to order item!
Mojo in her usual style thinks using her little sister’s old pushchair is hilarious, she laughs when I put her in it. She’s got the right idea, you have to laugh. Later that same day when, still completely distracted by the morning’s events, I managed to lock myself and our youngest out of the house with no house keys, no car keys and a phone with 6% battery life, I did laugh. So did the locksmith. So did the afterschool club who had to look after Mojo until I made it to school.
Always on the lookout for the brightside, all of the drama of Monday did distract me from dwelling too much on the fact that Mojo’s next surgery date has been scheduled. A meeting to discuss the specific dangers of sedating such a complex child is imminent and endocrinology are drawing up a Mojo-friendly fluid plan.
The two positives I chose to take from the stolen wheelchair saga are as follows. The NHS is just amazing. Within a week Mojo will have a replacement chair. It won’t be as bespoke as her own chair but it will mean she doesn’t have to be carried or use a baby buggy for long. The other overwhelming positive is that I have a really remarkable support network of friends, family, school and even neighbours who made me feel better with both practical support and just by sharing my outrage and reminding me that I shouldn’t give up on my faith in humanity just yet.