The Role My Wheelchair Plays in My Life
Perception is an interesting thing. People were born with a natural curiosity and the ability to assume. However, I find it even more interesting that people see others like me who may be dependent on a wheelchair to survive and automatically assume it also limits my ability to be “human” if you will. I won’t lie, sometimes I wish I were able to run/walk/jog, but the fact that I am not able to does not somehow “blur” my lust for life. Sure I sometimes get depressed, but don’t we all? I don’t think it is humanly possible for us not to experience sadness or possess a grumpy demeanor from time to time. Our sadness, our happiness, our attitude, our life, whether able-bodied or not, is what helps shape us.
One difference should never deter you from evolving and living life. So, it’s not that I really am being ugly to the folks who label me as “wheelchair dependent,” because it is a piece of medical equipment I need to survive my daily life. But I am not dependent on it for my attitude, and I certainly do not let being born with a disability hinder me. I want to be as independent as I possibly can while being dependent on a wheelchair. I often refer to my wheelchair as my car and my legs. It is an accurate description of what my wheelchair does for me, as I do not walk at all and my legs certainly do not work properly. I also cannot drive due to my spasticity. So, my wheelchair serves as my car around my house. It is freeing in so many ways and adds to my level of independence as well. Let’s be honest, without my chair, I would not be able to do much of anything!
Of course, like with most anything, having to live dependent on a wheelchair has its negative aspects as well. Sitting in the chair all the time can cause chronic back pain. It is certainly annoying, but I have learned to just live with it. After all, life is often about sacrifice. My comfort must be sometimes be put on the back burner so I can live my life.
I use my chair constantly, so it must be custom made. This means every six years, I must go to a wheelchair evaluation and pick out what I need in terms of footrests, arm rests, seats etc. It is exciting to pick out a new model of chair, as well as looking at the different array of colors! It is a bit like picking out a new vehicle. At the moment, I use a Quickie Q7 lightweight chair. This makes it easier for my mom, who is my primary caretaker, to load it into her car. It being so lightweight also makes it easier for me to push.
Living with quadriplegic cerebral palsy plus residual chronic pain conditions makes using a wheelchair my only option. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but truth be told, my wheelchair does not change who I am at heart. It is only a mere fraction of who I am. The rest of me is someone who wants a chance to be loved and heard just like everyone else on Earth. Growing up differently has been a challenge, but it is one I have learned to accept and adapt to.
Getty image by Shironosov.