With more than 50 kilometers done, the friends can almost smell the finish line. But then Matthee drives down a hill and hits a raised rim with his front wheel, causing him to roll over. “I can’t remember anything that happened. What I remember is that I didn’t feel my arms and legs anymore and I said ‘it’s over’. I had just sold my farm in Bergen op Zoom and was building a new house to enjoy our retirement.” With a Corona lockdown approaching, Matthee ends up in the hospital with a high spinal cord injury, ten broken ribs, a broken spine and a pulmonary embolism.
“The first weeks were a disaster. My wife and I had never been apart for more than two days. And when you need each other the most, you are not allowed to see each other.” After a few very difficult weeks on the ICU, Matthee is taken to a rehabilitation center in Rotterdam, where he will stay for the next nine months. No one will dispute that Matthee has ended up in a nightmare. “But I’m a fighter. If I get stuck in my injuries, then life is over. Of course we have difficult days sometimes. I can only comfort my wife with words, but I cannot hold her. That is a great loss. Yet I am also a sober man and I try to approach the situation with humor”.
Proving the contrary
In the rehabilitation center Matthee regains some feeling in his arm and legs with intensive therapy. “Another patient already told me about Scoozy there, but I didn’t pay much attention to it, because I couldn’t use my arms well then. But the name stuck in my head. Then I got a wheelchair with chin control. I was not allowed to go outside with it, because that was too dangerous, they said.” But as a fanatic cyclist and runner, the blood creeps where it can’t go. Matthee had to go outside. “I then took the occupational therapist with me and drove so fast onto the Westersingel that she couldn’t keep up with me. In the end I drove 500 kilometers through Rotterdam. No one in a wheelchair had ever done that before. I do like challenges. Before my accident I was cycling 20,000 kilometers a year. If I hadn’t exercised for three days, it always started to itch.”
The disbelief of others in what is possible was no stranger to Matthee. As a farmer’s son, he started running at the age of nineteen, much to his father’s dismay. “A farmer’s boy has to work from home, you don’t have time for all that running.” But I joined the athletics club anyway. I had worked twelve hours and then I went for a 20 km run. At one point I was one of the better runners in the region. I was very fit and always had the mentality of ‘I’ll show that I can do it’.” That attitude now helps Matthee to fight for improvement. If the therapist tells me ‘you have to do three times ten’, I will do five times ten exercises.
Once home, I drove over the quay in Roosendaal past a scooter shop. I went to have a look, but thought that steering a mobility scooter wouldn’t be for me, because I can’t do much with the right side.” When the salesperson tells me they became a Scoozy dealer and that Scoozy can be controlled with one hand. “Scoozy, I had heard of that before. And so I made an appointment in Delft for a test drive with left-hand operation. I was very well received and guided during the test. Only a small round inside was not enough for me and so I went full throttle on the bike path outside the gate.” Matthee now has more than 3000 kilometers on the odometer.
“Scoozy is much more stable on the road and goes faster than my regular wheelchair, about 10 miles per hour. That is more fun for my wife, because she can cycle with me. There is also some sort of security. If I want to go left or right, I have to pull the joystick back slightly. That’s nice, because then the chair doesn’t suddenly shoot to the left or right. Matthee thoroughly enjoys his trips in the area. “Being outside is an outlet for me. I look at the condition of the yards, how the potatoes are and enjoy the cows. I see everything that happens in the countryside. Actually, I’m still farming a bit. And Scoozy is the perfect tool to keep doing that. Scoozy has replaced my racing bike. I also enjoy nice moments with friends and have a great time with our grandson. That gives me great satisfaction and a feeling of purpose in my life”.
“The Scoozy is much more stable on the road and faster than my regular wheelchair. It is a lot more fun with my wife, because then she can cycle along.”
Scoozy can help you continue to enjoy what is so important to you as well. Would you like to give it a try? Take a test drive or contact us.