Protect The Chair! Making Waterproof Wheelchair Covers for Swimming (for under £20!)

Swimming is the best excercise when you have pain everywhere, but swimming in a wheelchair can be a pain in the arse (clearly not in the chair, but using the chaur before & after).

So I made myself some covers.

The towel was an important factor here, and I used a Turkish Beach Towel as it’s smooth cotton on one side so it’s not scratchy once it’s dried, but has terry on the other side to make it absorbant.

My 1st job was to cut the edges from the mattress protector. This had two advantages – firstly, it makes it easier to work with, and secondly it has built in elastic which I could use later instead of buying extra!

I measured my seat cushion by placing the lining & towel under my cushion & cutting a square around it, making sure that I’d left enough to go around the sides plus an extra 2 inches so the finished cover would wrap underneath like a fitted sheet.

I also cut tassels off plus 2″ of towel to make ties for the backrest cover. This was another excellent reason for the Turkish Beach towel – the finshed thing with it’s ties looks like I’m ready to go on holiday instead of hospital!

Once I’d cut same shape of mattress cover that I had for the towel, I lined them both up with the towel faced down & cover faced up* and trimmed any edges that were wonky (remember I was measuring around an oddly shaped Jay cushion with crap hands weilding scissors!).

*this is important as you’ll want them to match up when you sew them together.

Next, I placed my seat cushion back on, making sure that it was in the middle of the fabric & cut out squares from each corner. These went to 1cm away from the cushion.

Now I was ready to place the towel & cover with right sides facing in and sew together – it’s important to remember that you only sew the outside edges and don’t sew the corners! Otherwise you can’t turn it right ride out.

Next, I sewed the elastic that I salvaged from the mattress protector onto the straght edges that I’d just sewn (not the corners).

Once the elastic was in, I turned the fabric right way to create what can only be described as a giant showercap! With the right side of the towel together, I sewed corners together.

I’m sure there’s a neater way to do this as you can totally see the seams on the inside, but it’s a functional cover…

Making the back was a similar process. If you have a square back, then it’s identical albeit with no elastic.

If like me, you have a moulded/ fitted back, you’ll need to cut the shape of your back from the towel & mattress protector (this can be the rough shape plus 2 – 3 inches seam allowance). With a moulded back, it’s useful to add elastic at the too & bottom to help the cover “wrap” over.

Once I’d cut out the cover pieces (before sewing them together), I cut the tassled edges into 4 equal lengths then folded over the cut edges of the ties & sew along the edges to keep them from fraying. I attached the ties to back piece by sewing the top two to the inside of the corners and the bottom two in the middle. I then tucked them in as I sewed the seams.

(For a square back, sew the ties to each corner).

And this is the finished cover:

And from side (any reason to take a photo of my wheels!)

And from back – I’ve tied the straps in diagonals because it keeps the back cover more secure.

I promptly tested how well the cover worked with a day at the local pool & bubbles. Not a drop of water on my cusions even after some git sprayed with the shower (joys of tinypants helping me get showered).

Since then, I’ve used the cover weekly for swimming and we’ll be taking it on holiday. It’s doing exactly what I needed it to do and is as simple as chucking in the washing machine, or just hanging up like a towel to dry (just don’t tumble dry as it has plastic backing!!!).

What’s the one product that you resorted to making for your chair?

* This post contains affiliate links. I don’t recommend products unless I genuinely think they’re worth buying. By clicking / purchasing you are heloing me to maintain this site and my professional site over at www.TeachAllAboutIT.school

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Just keep swimming…

As a general rule, when people do the whole “I don’t know how you stay so cheerful” speech I just look (and feel) uncomfortable until they’ve run out of metaphors. I just attempt to get on with life and splurge all my frustration out in my blog instead of at real people. But this evening I’m awake past a reasonable hour yet again and wondering if I just don’t sleep anymore.

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I’m not going to lie, despite it being half term and being at home, this week has been quite shit so far. We’d just got to a place where I could step back and assess the spoon situation and start looking at ways to maybe improve my health, then something unexpected and more than a bit scary starts tapping on the tank. Wake up fishy! Why are you sleeping?? Probably because I was blogging at 1am again.

I’m not my generally perky self right now. This could be related to having fully dislocated my shoulder last week which is still bothering me, this new work issue, increasingly dramatic looming threats of Ofsted and a general sense that I actually have no control over my personal standard of living. And there we have it in a nutshell. I am a control freak. I’ve lost control.

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Each morning I need someone to help me get up and dressed – I hate this, but it’s a fact of life. Right now, Mr Geek does this at a time and speed that generally suits my needs. What if he couldn’t do that? Do we have the financial reserves for a carer? Would the kids cope? If we did have to rely on a carer, could I be sure that I’d be ready for work on time every day? Would it be dignified or would I get yanked out of bed by someone constantly watching the clock and tutting at someone too young to be needing help from others?

My appetite is sporadic at best. I fly from nothing to everything and it’s not based on hunger, but my emotional state. I rarely eat from hunger anymore. What if Mr Geek wasn’t here to remind me to eat? He cooks the things he knows I will eat and that won’t make me ill. He sneaks vegetables into my soft, bland carbs. He accepts that me sipping on slimfast is better than nothing when my stomach doesn’t want to play. What if he wasn’t here to regulate my diet? Can I live on slimfast and gluten free pretzels?

Financially, we need me to stay working. We’ve looked at it objectively and are acutely aware that I’m fading fast in terms of stamina at the lower end of the year groups. Being in a chair doesn’t command the same type of authority as much as I used to and I arrive home exhausted. Where I once would put in another 3 hours of marking, I lay in bed on a heated blanket letting the oramorph do its thing. If Mr Geek wasn’t there to help me undress and crawl into bed, what would I do? I know the kids would help out, Tinypants has certainly helped me undress a few times and lives sitting in bed watching Netflix with me in our PJs. But how awful for them to not be shielded from my worst.

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We’d created a routine that had not only shielded the kids and the world from how bad things had got, but also me to an extent that I hadn’t realised before. Mr Geek does so much for all of us so discreetly that it isn’t until there’s the concept of him being taken away that it hits home.

It’s not just that I’d miss him (and I would, because he is my lobster), but this once fiercely independent woman actually can’t get out of bed without his help. Even if that’s because mentally, I’m not ready to let someone other than a very few select people see me naked. Of those handful, distance and health rather scupper any backup plans. Welcome to the inner selfish thoughts of the physically ineffectual.

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I wish there was a way to wave my magic wand and make everything better. I wish I could stick my usual fake smile on and keep going, but when Mr Geek being happy looks on rough ground, my lioness instincts kick in and I get frustrated that I can’t kick arses like I used to.

The previous me would’ve got angry. The current me just feels anxious and isolated.

The only thing to do is just keep swimming…

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