My dad has Lewy Body Dementia, but when I'm at the getting-lots-better stage of hospital admissions he often takes me out in my wheelchair for a breath of fresh air and general escape from the ward. However, this is quite an experience and something I've termed Extreme Wheelchairing.
On Thursday Dad took me to Paddy Freemans - the park directly opposite the hospital. I very nearly ended up in the pond. Dad was watching the ducks as he was pushing me along and he forgot not to steer me in the direction he was looking so I was rapidly heading towards the 'steps' that circle the pond. I was holding onto the oxygen cylinder so grabbing the breaks wasn't an easy task, and a certain amount of breath was used in raising my voice in a desperate kind of way until Dad realised where he was pushing me. I survived that only to have him nearly push me off the edge of the cliff into Jesmond Dene below. He was showing me the view, which was lovely (although I've seen it many times before I never tire of it), but I didn't want to become a part of that view. Again, there was a degree of desperation in my exclamation as my front wheels teetered over the edge of the cliff.
I went extreme wheelchairing again yesterday, but only within the hospital. We managed to take out a lady in the lift, which was rather mean as she had a chest drain in so can't have been feeling all that grand to start with. Dad then took me to the little coffee shop in the hospital W H Smith, which is the most wheelchair-unfriendly shop in the world with narrow aisles that the staff insist on making more impossibly narrow with boxes of things that ought to go on the shelves but they never get around to unpacking. It's horrendous. So we crashed into the crips aisle, ran over a woman in the random slippers and dog food (!!!) aisle, couldn't get down the magazine aisle, though that didn't stop Dad from trying, and smashed our way through to the till and coffee shop area, managing to swipe a hairbrush off the shelf with my wheel and not realising until I felt it as I tried to grab the breaks (almost dropping the oxygen cylinder in the process) as we crushed a bloke sitting at one of the coffee tables. Upon leaving, Dad tried to push me through a table and a chair until I suggested that he leave them in the shop and not push them all the way down the corridor in front of us - he just hadn't seen that they were there and attached to me. We came back to the ward relatively uneventfully, except for the close acquantance I made with the wall beside the huge double doors that were open but Dad still couldn't easily negotiate his way through, and a small crash into a porter with a wheelchair.
It really is quite an experience having someone with moderate dementia take you out in a wheelchair.