Many of you will have read 100-year-old Kay’s cycling story, which we published on the Wheels for Wellbeing website back in September 2020. Her journey into cycling started after arthritis and gradual hearing and sight loss made a mobility scooter impractical. Since buying a Van Raam O’Pair from Tomcat Trikes in 2019, Kay and her family have been able enjoy cycling to the shops, park and even on holiday to rural Norfolk. More recently, her wheelchair cycle has proven to be extremely helpful to the whole family in an unexpected way – you can read about it here:
One of Kay’s sons-in-law, Graham, has been an active 70-year-old and a keen obstacle course racer (Kay calls it mud-running). Last autumn, Graham found himself running ever more slowly due to what seemed like a muscle problem. It started off with him having to cut short a race as he was getting hypothermic, and then over the next few weeks walking became even more difficult. Approaching Christmas, he was shocked to experience excruciating pain in one leg that made it impossible to stand or walk. He was called to attend a series of tests and scans, which he was able to drive to the hospital for but needed help transferring into a hospital wheelchair.
For one of these appointments, a bone biopsy of the hip, Graham was advised that he would not be able to drive home. With lockdown looming and no bubble member who could drive, his wife borrowed Kay’s wheelchair cycle to take Graham to the hospital. Graham had to wrap up warm for the early morning start, but the ride was a change, and he enjoyed the experience. Traffic was light and the drivers were as courteous as Kay had described in her cycling story.
At the hospital, the Van Raam cycle was accepted as a mobility aid and was allowed inside the building, which saved them from having to transfer Graham into a hospital wheelchair. The staff in the specialist department also found the wheelchair cycle a great talking point, and they made room for it by moving a trolley out of the way and parking the cycle behind a curtain.
A few hours later, Graham’s rather painful procedure finished up and he got off the bed and dressed. He was able to sit on the wheelchair, which saved him having to wait for hospital transport or share a vehicle, and also from having to be transferred from a wheelchair to the car. His journey home was in one comfortable chair, right to his front door.
Graham was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer from a lung tumour he didn’t know he had. In the following weeks, Graham used the car for some appointments, and his wife took him by Van Raam cycle for others. In spite of strong pain-killers, walking was still very difficult, and he needed to borrow a wheelchair at the destination if he used the car. As you can imagine, he was beginning to feel a bit beleaguered.
When the invitation came for his COVID-19 vaccination, Graham’s wife suggested a trip out on the wheelchair cycle, to minimise delays and transfers. The vaccination centre had narrower corridors, so on arrival they separated the two halves of the cycle. Graham remained in the wheelchair and they locked up the cycle half nearby to the exit. The wheelchair half steered remarkably easily and again was admired by the staff and volunteers in the building. The jab was a breeze compared to a biopsy of the acetabulum!
After waiting the required 15 minutes, it was time to go home. It took a couple of attempts to couple up the back and the front parts of the cycle, with Graham’s wife saying: “It does require a knack and a little bit of strength, but with care it can be done even by a middle-aged woman with a bad arm! Other people are always offering to help.” Then it was back home with a little diversion though the park for exercise and fun.
Graham had begun to feel a bit fed up with being stuck indoors with the pain in his hip and uncertainty about the future. He couldn’t walk, he couldn’t mount a bicycle and he had no access to a gym…but the trip out gave him an idea.
He still had legs and the muscles needed exercise. Being in essence a tricycle with a very low cross-bar, the wheelchair cycle would remain stable while he stepped into the saddle and put both feet onto the pedals. First he tried back-pedalling indoors, which was easy! Then he tried cycling around the block with his wife as the passenger, knowing that they could swap over if necessary. The next day Graham pedalled over a mile. As well as not feeling any extra pain, Graham also missed a dose of pain-killers without noticing until it was time for the next dose. Over the next couple of days they went cycling round the local streets and estates for a little bit longer.
This is clearly not the end of the story. Though Graham has an incurable illness, he is feeling a lot better and has recognised that it is possible to live with his medical condition, rather than have his life ruined by it. The plan is now to go out on the cycle as often as possible – weather and medical treatment permitting. Graham’s new ambition is to take 100-year-old Kay out for a ride!