The Cushion Disaster That Nearly Was

My trip to Penang to conduct the Disability Equality Training (DET) workshop at Universiti Sains Malaysia almost turned into a disaster. As always, whenever we travel up north from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Wuan and I will make a stop in Ipoh to break the monotony of the long journey.

We went to pick up Wuan’s parents for lunch with us. At the restaurant car park, as Wuan was setting up the wheelchair for me, we realised that we had left the wheelchair cushion behind in Kuala Lumpur. I use two cushions of different thicknesses, the thinner Supracor Stimulite Sport when I am at home and a thicker Supracor Stimulite Classic XS when I am out and about.

The wheelchair was customised to be used with a cushion. Without one, my posture would be affected. It would be very uncomfortable and considering the long hours that I would be in the wheelchair at the workshop, there was a possibility of getting pressure sores on the buttocks as well. The first inclination was to make the 2-hour drive back to Kuala Lumpur for the cushion after lunch and then drive all the way to Penang. I estimated that we would arrive at the hotel in Penang at around 10pm.

The other option was to look for a cushion in Ipoh. There are no Supracor Stimulite dealers in Malaysia. I had to bring both of mine in from the USA. The next option was to get the ROHO, an air-filled cushion that I have pressure-mapped at the hospital with favourable results. I am not too fond of this cushion though because the air pressure has to be constantly monitored and being air-filled, there is always the issue of it springing a leak, more so when we are living with cats with sharp claws.

Roho Quadtro Select High Profile and Supracor Stimulite Classic XS
Top – Roho Quadtro Select High Profile. Bottom – Supracor Stimulite Classic XS.

The good thing about using a smartphone is that I could access the Internet to look for the address of Lifeline Innovators, a medical and rehabilitation equipment dealer, that I knew had a branch in Ipoh. I was surprised that for a shop that deals with rehabilitation equipment especially wheelchairs, it did not have a ramp to the shop. The helpful staff had to carry me in my wheelchair up three steps to the five-foot way and another step into the shop. It is ironic that while they sell enabling gears, they are also the source of disablement with the non-existent accessible facilities for disabled customers visiting the shop. The management of Lifeline Innovators should seriously look into this issue.

I wanted the Roho Quadtro Select Mid profile but they did not have my size. The staff let me test the Quadtro Select High Profile instead. I was seated rather high and felt wobbly and unstable. The good thing about this cushion is that the air can be released for better positioning. It felt more comfortable after some adjustments.

So, after haggling over the price, I parted with RM1,300 for the cushion and continued with our journey up north, praying that nothing else would go wrong after that. Considering the situation, it was a small price to pay. The decision to buy the Quadtro Select, although not as comfortable as my Stimulite Classic XS, was the better choice as opposed to driving all the way back home to pick the cushion up or the possibility of getting a pressure sore that could take months to heal sitting without the cushion.