New wheelchair needed

2015-11-11 06:00
SUSAN KESEABETSWE SCHALK (62) and her sister. Photos: Supplied

SUSAN KESEABETSWE SCHALK (62) and her sister. Photos: Supplied

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(62) from the Kamden village in Kuruman has been using the same old worn-out wheelchair for more than ten years, ever since she was involved in a car accident in August 1988 that left her paralysed for the rest of her life.

There were six passengers involved in the accident; the other five died on the scene. She was hospitalised for ten months after her spinal cord injury.

Schalk, who is a single parent of three children and two foster children, says she never expected the joy of going on holiday with her boss would lead to such a bitter ending.

On top of her needs for a good Samaritan to sponsor her adult nappies and catheter tubes, her biggest plea is for the donation of a wheelchair that is in good condition.

According to her, the current wheelchair is old and worn out and can no longer carry her weight.

She is well known as an active community member, as she has a good relationship with councillors and other community leaders. She sometimes misses her scheduled clinic appointments for regular check-ups due to her worn-out wheelchair.

“She really needs a wheelchair as she is in most instances the first person to identify her community’s needs and highlight them to the relevant parties,” said Kedi Maluleke, a family friend.

“I find it difficult to wheel myself as the handles are broken and the wheels are cracked.

“And even if I find someone to push me, the squeaking sound is so irritating.

She is now seeking help to get a new wheelchair that is in good condition.

“I tried speaking to social workers, but they keep on promising. The last time an auxiliary social worker told me I should buy myself a new wheelchair from the pharmacy.

“With a good wheelchair I will be able to assist with some household chores and get to the clinic by myself. My current wheelchair can’t even take me to the social grant pay point on pay days. I have to ask for help from other people.”

Life has never been easy for her, but she tries to keep a positive mind for the sake of her children, who have always been there for her – especially as support from family, friends and the community were overwhelming but only when the incident was still recent.

The worst and embarrassing times are when Schalk runs out of nappies and urine bags – something she cannot live without.

“These days I buy them myself, because all the people who used to sponsor and help seem to be tired of it now. I must admit with only the old-age grant, this is draining me financially and emotionally,” she said.

“My children and grandchildren are helping to buy me nappies and urinary catheter tubes, which costs about R60 each and last for less than a month. And because of my body weight it is also a struggle to get the right size catheter tubes from the pharmacy.”

With a sad expression, Schalk further elaborated how using small urinary catheters causes health problems.

“The ones that the clinic offers are not good for me as they hurt me, but the clinic can’t do anything about it because that is what they keep in stock. I really wish I could get the right ones from the clinic or hospital.

“There are times when I have to use towels that I would personally wash and I wash the catheter to re-use it during desperate times,” she said.

Schalk’s problem has been reported to the chairperson of the civil society, but nothing was promised.

Schalk further revealed that she could do almost everything for herself. The only problem is that her legs cannot carry her.

“My daughter-in-law is the one taking full responsibility and I am very grateful for the love and support she is providing to assist with bathing me and helping during nappy changing.

She is pleading for a wheelchair because she can’t even attend community meetings, meetings for disabled persons as well as school parents’ meetings, or go to church.

“Besides the wheelchair being old, I can’t even fit into it well. A bigger size would be good, as this one is very small and is uncomfortable to sit in.”

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