Well, at least I'm getting started!
Yesterday they delivered a manual wheelchair for me to try out. This one is bright blue but when I order one myself, I will order bright red. You may wonder why I'm moving from an electric chair (which costs enormously more) to a manual chair which is a lot more work. I'm doing this so that I can get some serious exercise, have a lighter folding wheelchair for travelling, and have a quieter chair for indoors. Both my doctor and my physiotherapist have been recommending it.
Apparently most wheelchair users, younger than myself, start out with a manual wheelchair and may eventually end up in a power chair when their shoulders give out from pushing. I was given an electric chair initially because I did not have the strength in my arms to push a manual wheelchair, but I have now built up enough strength to manage that. And it's about the only way for me to get a serious cardio workout.
I plan to use it indoors over the winter and by next spring be out on the street going up and down for that exercise. I will still be using my power chair part time and for longer trips like going downtown for coffee and for outings with Mrs. F.G. That being said, it will take a good deal of getting used to and building up more strength for pushing over any distance. Yesterday it was difficult to even hold the wheelchair back while driving down the gentle slope of our driveway, and very hard to turn around and drive back up the driveway, so I've got some serious work to do. A manual chair also makes you sit up much more straight, whereas my power chair is set so that I'm always leaning slightly backwards. The new chair is therefore a good deal more demanding on my trunk muscles.
It would be very easy for a person of my age to stay in a power chair for the rest of my life, and perhaps that's what they expected at the rehab hospital. But if I'm going to have the active life in the community that I want this is an important step for me to take. If anything I have arrived at this point sooner than I expected and I plan to enjoy it!