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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All I Need To Feel Normal is Zero Gravity!

What else would I be doing at 7pm on a Friday night than going to the gym….

Ha! Some hope. But I did leave the house. 7pm tonight was my first session in the hydrotherapy pool. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I got into the water using a combo of steps & rails (helped by Mr Geek) into a swimming pool of slightly salty bath temperature water. I was handed a pool noodle to sit on to keep me floaty and I just toddled about moving like a normal human for AN HOUR. Oh yes. A whole hour and I bobbed, I floated, I paddled a bit and stretched out, then bobbed about a bit more, all the while listening to chilled music. It felt marvellous.

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Getting out wasn’t so much fun. I cracked and popped as more of my body left the water and the pain of normal gravity was a bit of a bummer. But on the up side, my appreciation for Mr Geek is far higher, having been lifted out of the water into a curtained changing room where he danced inappropriately at me & wondered out loud (too loud) if we should make Austin Powers style shadows just to highlight that not that much has changed.

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I also had a lovely chat with the hospital physio team earlier today who have decided that they want to pass me on to the pain management team (Whoop!). She also had a bit of a freak out session about me dropping 5kg in 2 weeks without being aware. Despite me assuring her that I really do have plenty of reserves and genuinely don’t mind if I drop a few more pounds, she’s made an appointment with the registrar linked to my GP, combining this with more blood letting & an ecg to work out why I wobble when standing. (Here’s a clue – I’m full of opiates and they make me want to hurl!). Tuesday is looking like fun fun fun!

Exercising when your limbs keep trying to fall off.

Moving isn’t just good for the body, but good for the head too. And frankly, I’ve been a grumpy sod for the past week or so. So, on the back of having rested the whole day yesterday,  I insisted that we take the kids swimming at the local pool today.

It’ll be fine, I said. They have stairs into the pool, I said. I’ll feel better, I said.

So here it is in gif form….

Mr Geek wasn’t sure and was holding in all his internal fretting whilst the kids launched themselves bodily onto the giant pool inflatable.

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I was sat at the side, slightly annoyed as they’d taken out the steps I’d promised would be there. So once we’d discovered steps weren’t going back in, Mr Geek helped me off the crutches into a sat by the pool scenario and he lifted me into the water from there. (OK,  can I get an “awwwwwww!”). Once in, I realised that even standing on the floor was causing sciatica and knee pain, so I sat on my pool noodle and bobbed about like it was a floating throne.

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Once satisfied that I wasn’t going to fall off and drown  (I can swim, it just hurts), or try anything stupid like front crawl, Mr Geek went off to do a few lengths. I was left bobbing around kicking my legs around like a baby in one of those inflatable seat things (except my pool noodle is far cooler, and it takes core muscles of a god to balance! ). This was blissful. I was weightless & moving with only minor twingyness! Stuff started to ache after 1ish minutes, but not anything that indicated imminent death.

Then the kids wanted to move to the “fun pool”. We needed to get out. The life guard had suggested the lift that resembled one of those theme park grabbing machines. I’m not ready for those looks. Too much attention.

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So between me and Mr Geek he lifted me back out of the water onto my bum, then picked me up off the floor.

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Getting into the fun pool was easier (proper steps & much warmer), but because I was exhausted by now and the kids had buggered off to the slides, Mr Geek and I just hung about talking. Without me realising he had positioned me onto his leg and just held me in a sort of floaty position in the water. I was totally relaxed.

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Finally, the kids were done. Sadly, so was I and couldn’t actually walk back to the car, so Mr Geek helped me change and grabbed the chair from the car.

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As soon as we got home, I got (OK,  I was helped into) a hot bath & assessed the damage.

1 hour of happy floating = both knees complaining behind the patella, my right elbow popped back in (Getting out of pool 1 required me lifting myself), my right shoulder making weird noises & shooting pains down my arm and both wrists sore & crunching.

But I swear blind it was worth it for an hour of what felt like normal movement. That and hugging Mr Geek in a pool 🙂

Mum, your roller skating is epic! Oh yes.

Saturday has officially become family day. We will no longer spend the day deciding what to do, ending up actually spending half the day slobbing out then spending a fortune on soft play because of our lack of inspiration. We will have a plan. We will spend rime together. We will have fun!

It turns out that now we’ve swapped our gym membership from the posh club to the local council run one (half the price, but way more child orientated), we not only have unlimited swimming and the kids swimming lessons included and entrance to the local soft play, we also have the weekly roller disco included!

Now, in September I was confined to several square feet having been stuck on crutches for months after dislocating my pelvis and knackering several discs in my lower back. This has meant a long slow recovery to being able to do anything that verges on exciting and we started off slowly in January with a weekly swim on Saturday mornings. While tiny pants had a swimming lesson and beanpole went playing on the diving boards with the long suffering husband, I’ve been able to devote my time to treading water watching them all and hiding in the steam room when, after lessons finish they bring out the giant inflatable for the pool. (Total kudos to the swimming pool though for knowing how to keep hundreds of kids supremely happy for several hours)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve stepped this up a notch by taking the kids to the roller disco, which considering my advice to avoid any kind of impact sport perhaps is a little foolhardy, but as long as I don’t fall over, I’m good. Actually, I’m more than good. I’m having a total ball. This has in a few short weeks taken me right back to going to the roller discos at our assembly hall as a teenager and racing around on skates trying to impress the boys. And to top it off I’m doing something that has totally impressed the kids – they never knew mummy was a skater (I’ve not mentioned that I learnt to skate fast because as a drunk teenager, you don’t care when you fall over after getting air over the speed bumps in the road….).

But this time, we have the added bonus of it returning my legs back to me from the wibbley mess that they have become. In the past year, the lack of movement combined with some serious comfort eating have not done me any good. The gym is not my friend – I dislike the walking balls of testosterone that gaze lovingly at themselves (and each other?!) as they lift heavy things and make faces, I equally dislike the twiglet women who spend hours on the stepper and clearly spent their school life playing netball or athletics.

To add to the excitement this week, I bought my first pair of roller skates since I was 14. Not the roller blades or quad skates that the kids now have with big plastic buckles and shell, but bright blue retro 80s skates. Comfy skates with laces. Skates with bright yellow wheels. Just looking at them makes me happy.

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