This blog post is dedicated to Bumblebee, the fashionably yellow scooter that opened me back up to life’s endless possibilities.
Disclaimer: no thing can replace the humans in my life that lift me up day in and day out. No thing can replace the giving and undying commitment of my family and friends to help when I ask for help and even insert help when I am too stubborn to ask. There are things however that can help you maintain your independence and also help to not exhaust your loving relationships. That is what this blog post is about. It is about a mobility aid that lessened the burden of multiple sclerosis on me and my village.
I have many mobility aids, and many that came before Bumblebee. But you know how something can just click with you? It resonates at just the right vibration. It just vibes with you. Like a favorite t-shirt, your soul mate, your best friend, a song, the perfect home that you walk into and say, this is the one. That is Bumblebee, my electric folding mobility scooter. She’s the one. My legs on wheels.
I’m sitting on Amtrak train 157 looking at Bumblebee tucked into the front corner of the rail car. The quiet time has me reflecting on the past year and all of our adventures together. I spend a lot of time at home where her main duty is a bus stop run most days to the corner, up a good hill and back down again. It can feel and actually be isolating with a chronic illness and when I begin to verbalize everything we’ve done this year I realize I haven’t really been isolated at all. That becomes a choice and I chose to get out. I chose to insert myself into busy life with all the walkers out there. No working legs was no problem. I now had wheels. My life was saved. This is as dramatic as it sounds. Yes, it is. Any second chance is glorious in that there is another chance, and an opportunity to make another choice.
As a superbly independent and stubborn person I needed a thing to fill a very critical position in my life. The position I was hiring for was a replacement for my legs. I resist feeling burdensome and love the freedom of wandering. I needed to desperately not rely on another person for yet another area of my life.
And so with lots of research on Google, Amazon, and YouTube I took a leap of faith and ordered a scooter I had never set my body on. Had not tried. I had not stepped foot into a mobility devices store in years. It was an expensive leap of faith however I never doubted that it would work for me. On the Internet the specification met my immediate needs: it was a travel scooter that folded up in one piece. That’s it, that is what I needed.
There were other specs to compare and look out for – weight, distance on a full battery charge, type of battery, 4-wheels vs. 3-wheels, speed, handling. And…pizzazz. It needed to have flair in that sunshine-y Jodi way. And let me just spoil it for you. Bumblebee is all style, and a lot of other things too.
Please, read on. This is Bumblebee, known as The Transformer Electric Folding Mobility Scooter by Solax.
The very, very excellently good:
1) She’s yellow. The end.
Oh, just kidding. There’s more.
2) She’s sturdy. Sitting on a 4 wheel base makes her a safe ride in cities, up and down inclines, slightly uneven surfaces.
3) Great for travel by car, train and plane. In just one year she’s logged miles on 4 train rides, 10 airplanes and countless car rides. She’s seen malls, grocery stores, backyards, museums, theaters, New York City, New Mexico, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Baltimore, Washington, DC, amusement parks, restaurants, public bathrooms, stadiums, concert arenas, wineries and breweries, the beach, soccer fields, Christmas tree farm, and simple strolls through the neighborhood.
4) Battery life per charge and miles per charge are excellent. At one year old with regular use defined as at least twice per week, I have not noticed any diminishing qualities in charge or distance. The battery is, however, affected by extreme cold.
5) Easy to handle. Electronic folding is life changing. She even has a key fob that can fold and unfold without needing the key in the ignition. There is a telescoping handle that makes it comfortable to adjust for your height, and also easy to hold onto and roll, like a suitcase.
6) Folded size is similar to a large suitcase making it east to stow.
7) Speed is decent enough, at 4 mph. I’ve tipped other scooters so while I wish she had more kick, it’s probably just right.
8) She fits through standard doorways.
9) Stylish. Did I mention? The color on this machine pops without being overdone.
The could be improved:
1) Turning radius. For me, this isn’t that big of a deal other than I have another scooter whose turning radius is awesome, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed. With Bumblebee, I have to sometimes pull back and forth to make tighter turns, such as getting into a public bathroom. It can definitely be done, and your driving skills will only improve as a result. I have some use of my legs so when I really get into a jam, I can sort of stand and manually push or pull her to where she needs to be pointed. I do this mostly out of impatience, not necessity. You can absolutely get around easily.
2) Reverse beeping. DEAR MANUFACTURER, PLEASE HELP. The reverse beeping is shrill and obnoxious. From a safety standpoint, and also sitting beneath the height of a standing person, it definitely lets people know you’re there or need room to back up. Also, dear friends, if there is a person in a scooter, please make room for them to maneuver. I can’t tell you how many people stand firm in their place and stare at me as I am trying to back up or make a 100-point turn to get out of tight spots. Do you think that if the machine had a pivoting arm I would use it? Of course. But since I have never seen a mobility device with a streamlined pivoting arm, or one that could hover and spin around in mid-air, or that can fly, it won’t burden you to move 2 or 3 or 5 steps away so I (and you) can get on living. And if you’re standing in line, I am pretty sure making way for a scootering person will not be an invitation for someone else to cut in front of you. I ran astray from my point, which was the reverse beeping is loud. Especially when you’re having to get around in a calm and quiet atmosphere such as fine dining. And she waves to patrons awkwardly, I have arrived.
3) Weight. Total weight of this scooter including the battery is approximately 57 lbs. I am unable to lift the scooter on my own mostly because it would throw me off balance. I do need a partner to go on car trips with me – errands around town, etc. – in order to take my scooter. I have gone on my own, and asked a stranger to help me. I have actually called the grocery store and asked them to send an employee out. Yes, I have. #notashamed
4) Seat positioning and seat back height. One of the detriments of my MS is poor posture so the support could be improved. If the seat back were a tad higher and maybe the positioning a little more upright I wouldn’t fatigue as fast. This scooter leans back just a little which makes it hard for me to sit up straight after awhile.
5) She pops wheelies. I feel the wheelie popping really enhances her personality, but it can be a little much if you’re worried about tipping over. I have never tipped this scooter like I have others, however the wheelies make my heart skip a beat every time. You could always just say she has a lot of torque, no?
This is not an ad or sponsored post. The most important thing to me is to help other people find ways to live as fully as possible. One of my favorite quotes is “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.”
Break down your barriers, shed your fears. I was once ashamed of how I was losing control of my body. No shame, no more. Get yourself a bright yellow friend like Bumblebee and go conquer the world.