We recently read of the British nurse who is believed to be the first working nurse to operate from a wheelchair. Michelle Quested qualified as a nurse in 2004 and began her nursing career as an able bodied nurse in frontline operations at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
However in 2010 she was involved in a car accident that eventually left her in an electric wheelchair. 4 weeks after the accident, two of her spinal discs ruptured and crushed her spinal cord meaning that she lost mobility and was forced in to a wheelchair. Determined for this not to affect her chosen career Michele adopted the attitude that ‘But nurses are born to be nurses – and I wasn’t going to let being in a wheelchair stop me.’ So she set about getting an electric wheelchair adapted to allow her to work effectively.
She used a manual wheelchair away from work however this was not suitable due to the use of her hands interacting with the wheels meant that she risked contaminating her patients after taking a more hands-on clinical role.
Her electric wheelchair has been modified to some extent to allow her to work effectively. The changes to the wheelchair cost in the region of £1800 and included changes that make the wheelchair slightly narrower to make it more maneuverable.
At the age of 33 Michele appears to be the only electric wheelchair user working as a nurse, ‘I cannot find any other frontline nursing staff in the UK who use a wheelchair, after doing a lot of research,’ she said.
Michelle underwent surgery and several months of rehabilitation after which she could still only move her big toe. It was then that a consultant told her she was unlikely walk again.
It was then that Quested decided she would be ‘the best possible wheelchair user I could be’ – and decided to go back to work.