I wouldn’t recommend it. I’d even warn against it. In fact, I believe I have warned against it. But I did it.
Our city has a local classifieds website that I have been known to browse and that is where the ad sat when it caught my attention. The ad was worded in such a way that intrigued me and my common sense fell victim to high hopes. The seller stated that the owner, her mother, was tall. Knowing that good wheelchairs are custom fit for peoples’ height and weight, my interest was piqued because I have the same “build” as the chair’s previous owner. The seller lived about 30 minutes away, but I was interested enough to want to see it. Then I discovered it was, in fact, a full hour away….. but near a state park we had never seen. My good-natured husband dubbed it an adventure and off we went. I felt I had asked smart questions – among them were “are the controls set up for the right hand?”, “are there any required stairs that would prevent me from being able to see it?”, “how tall was your mother?”
I do already have a wheelchair. It is one heck of a machine and does enough tricks to impress the average person, but it seems HUGE. Even with my house’s widened hallways and spacious rooms, it comes too close to walls and doorways. It has a special seat which custom inflates on each side separately and is ultra comfortable….but the drawback to that is that it is too squishy to offer support for transferring. Like it or not, I have the wheelchair that insurance helped pay for and I will not qualify for another attempt for at least another five years, if ever. My privately-purchased little scooter is dandy with maneuvering, but doesn’t have a lot of power. This option seemed like a potential “in between” solution.
It was, in fact, a nice drive on a beautiful day with good company. When we arrived, it soon became evident that “no stairs” to the seller meant no more than two. (Fact: People with working legs simply do not notice stairs.) My gallant husband looked the machine over and reported back to me a number of times and then managed to wrestle it to a place where I could see it. It became clear that the chair had not been manufactured for a tall person, but simply adjusted within its capabilities to fit best to the person’s height. We decided against buying it. Then the price started coming down dramatically and we ended up asking ourselves “why not try to make it work for that price?” I may never fully understand how my strong husband got it into our minivan, but we drove away with it. It’s here and plugged in to the charger right now to determine if the batteries are good. If they aren’t, then we will purchase new cells for the batteries instead of entirely new batteries (cheaper and greener). Any modifications or maintenance will be out-of-pocket since insurance did not purchase it; so if there is something wrong with it (beyond dead batteries), it will be a poor purchase and a lesson learned. If it only requires new battery cells, the cost will still be reasonable for the benefit it may offer
So against my own advice, I bought a used wheelchair. We’ll see how this works out.