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Testimonial Peter ter Veld - Vicair Active O2

Peter ter Veld testimonial Vicair wheelchair cushions

My name is Peter, and I am 55 years old. At the age of 52, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It started with pain that got worse, so I eventually went to the doctor for that. From then on, I was caught up in the medical system with the diagnosis revealing prostate cancer that had metastasized to the lymph nodes and two, thankfully inactive, tumours in my spinal cord. I started hormone therapy in June 2021, which was highly effective from the first pill. This went well until December 2021.

 

“What began as a numb feeling in my foot ended in emergency surgery.”

In early December, I experienced paralysis in my left foot. It began with a numb sensation in the foot and a strange feeling in my back. Each day, this sensation worsened, and by December 14th, I was paralyzed from my midsection (T5) down and couldn’t move anything. I was rushed into surgery and attempts were made to remove as much as possible of one of the tumours in my spine. This was followed by radiation treatments to shrink the remaining part of the tumour. The tumour was pressing almost entirely against my spinal cord, which was the cause of the paralysis and the incomplete spinal cord injury.

After the surgery and radiation treatments, I began a recovery process: first, waking up well from the anaesthesia, then trying to reduce medication and gradually trying to sit up again. The advantage I had was that I’ve always been active in sports, so I had good trunk stability and a lot of muscle control, which allowed me to sit up a bit straighter quickly. However, I still couldn’t use the bathroom by myself, nor could I stand or walk. Eventually, with the help of the nursing staff, I was able to push myself in a wheelchair up and down the hallway a little bit.

The rehabilitation process began on December 31, 2021, at the Hoogstraat Rehabilitation Centre in Utrecht (The Netherlands), focusing on learning essential activities of daily living (ADL) skills, such as performing transfers independently. And that’s hard work! The sweat was regularly on my forehead, and I often thought ‘what am I doing’ during rehabilitation. Despite the challenges, my rehabilitation progress was quite promising, and after about two weeks at the rehabilitation centre, I was able to send a video to my wife showing my toes gradually regaining mobility! My ultimate goal for the rehabilitation centre was to be able to walk up and down stairs again.

To be able to do more and more myself during rehabilitation, I was given a manual wheelchair on loan that contained a small foam wheelchair cushion. I didn’t like this cushion because I just couldn’t sit on it. The incontinence cover caused me to slip out of the chair. I then started testing various wheelchair cushions. I started with a ROHO cushion, but it made me bounce in all directions. What I desired was a cushion that would provide more support and envelopment for my buttocks, ensuring a more secure and comfortable seating position. My occupational therapist saw that I didn’t like this cushion, so I was able to try a Vicair Liberty cushion from the warehouse in the rehabilitation centre. This immediately felt much better and more supportive.

“The wheelchair cushion Vicair Active O2 gives me the stability I need.”

Because my occupational therapist listened carefully to what I needed, we then decided to make a trial service request (service only available in the Netherlands) and choose the wheelchair cushion Vicair Active O2. We wanted to create more peace in my body with the stability of this cushion and use the stability when I played sports. Because whenever I had a little time and felt well, I could be found in the gym of the rehabilitation centre. When the Vicair Active O2 arrived and I sat on it, it was truly a relief! With this cushion, I could play basketball and badminton.

When you sit on the Vicair Active O2, the foam part forms purely by pressure. The buttocks naturally land on the part with the SmartCells and they mould to my body. My buttocks then get stuck, and I no longer slide on the cushion. Thanks to the Vicair cushion, I can control my own body again, ensuring that my body integrates seamlessly with the wheelchair, preventing any unwanted sliding. Especially during handbiking, the cushion provides me with the stability I need.

“It's a beautiful learning process to tackle the things that don't go well so that eventually they do!”

Rehabilitation went well. Sensation returned gradually to my legs and buttocks, and I could walk small distances again. Until October 2022, when I experienced another setback, this time at L1. I immediately underwent radiation treatments again. Around the same time, I started feeling pressure and discomfort in my chest, and it turned out that T5 was becoming active again. It was decided to irradiate this one immediately too and to start chemo. The first chemo was the toughest I have had. Gradually the chemo went better and better.

The energy is coming back more and more now. I can go to my son’s football and my daughter’s volleyball again. I can also drive a car again and do some work. I’ve regained stability with standing and can even bend my knees again. My ultimate goal is still to ride a bike again. Every day, I try something new! Training with the physiotherapist and maintaining flexibility are crucial.

I like to push my limits. I have always done this through sports. Sport is a way of releasing tension for me and that’s why I know my body well. My approach to rehabilitation was mainly trial and error. I often laughed at myself during rehab for things that went wrong, simply because I was doing things, I wasn’t familiar with and hadn’t mastered yet. Just try it, and if it doesn’t work, try falling flat on your face once in a while. And that doesn’t mean if it doesn’t work the second or third time, it won’t ever work, because maybe it will. So, keep trying! Sometimes it takes blood, sweat, and tears. But it’s a beautiful learning process to tackle the things that don’t go well until they eventually do.”

Review Peter ter Veld

“I remain wheelchair-dependent, but that is not a bad thing. The wheelchair has become my best friend!”

Right now, I’m kind of at the maximum of what I can physically achieve. I used to need a crutch to walk from my house to the car, now I can do this without a crutch because I have regained my balance.

I remain wheelchair-dependent, but that’s not a bad thing either! The wheelchair has become my best friend because I can do everything with it. Combined with the handbike, I can go anywhere I want to go.

– Peter ter Veld

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