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How a Wheelchair Makes Date Nights With My Husband Better

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My husband and I took a vacation. I was excited to get out of the cruddy Michigan weather and into the Florida sun. We don’t vacation often, because of all my different issues. It’s hard to find diet-approved restaurants and activities that don’t tire me out.

After a rough first few days of vacation, we decided to take an easy day on the beach that ended in a pretty nasty sun rash (even with 80 SPF!) and a super cranky Claire. I couldn’t go in the water because I was too dizzy to stand on my own two feet, so I stayed on our beach towel reading, while my husband swam around by himself in the ocean. The next day I stayed in bed most of the day, and took every chance I had to sit because I was so worn out. It crushed me to see my young healthy husband have to stop at every bench, wait patiently for me to catch my breath, reapply sunscreen, and add or remove a layer of clothes, but I was determined to enjoy our time.

We decided to go to an aquarium later that night. I was so excited; I absolutely love the water and beautiful sea creatures, but I was terrified that we would have to cut our trip short because of my lack of energy. That’s when I saw a sign for wheelchair rentals. Being 24, young, and healthy-looking, I was always too afraid to ask for a wheelchair, although I have always wondered if it would make date nights easier. I was afraid of being denied, or people staring at me. Just the thought of it brought tears to my eyes. But seeing as the first three days of our trip were pretty miserable, I decided to put my pride and fear aside and brought up the idea to my husband.

He was immediately on board. We sat in the car and called ahead to ask about wheelchair reservations, and he helped me walk up to the counter. (I was still dizzy from Tuesday’s attempted swim.) The receptionist was so friendly, grabbed a chair and set me up, told us where the elevators were, and we were off. No questions about my age, no judgment about my invisible illness and why someone with an apparently youthful, walking body needed a wheelchair. At first, I felt really uncomfortable, and considered giving it back and “sucking it up,” but once we surrounded ourselves with people who didn’t walk in with us, nobody thought differently. And we were able to make it through the entire awesome aquarium without constant breaks, sitting, or slowing down. We could go at the pace that worked best for us, and we both really enjoyed ourselves. Obviously, I could still stand to get my hands on the touch tank or see things that were higher up, but when I got too dizzy or tired, I had a portable chair waiting for me. It was amazing. We would get some dirty looks when I would stand, but I didn’t care because I was so excited to actually make it all the way through a date with energy at the end to walk back to the car.

We ended up renting a wheelchair for a few more outings, and our vacation drastically improved. I wasn’t as snarky as I normally am, trying to communicate my pain through exhaustion and brain fog. For the first time in quite a while, we had some enjoyable dates! We laughed hysterically at the number of times he drove me into walls or near stairs, trying to fit myself through small doorways while he was on the other side opening the door. We haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Usually, he is frustrated we’re sitting again, I’m bitter that he’s frustrated, and we cut our date short because we aren’t enjoying ourselves. But not this time! I’ve been kicking myself for not trying this sooner. I’m excited to plan future date nights with him that have wheelchairs we can rent so we can really enjoy time together again. It was like falling in love all over again.

Getty image by Prostock-Studio.

Originally published: December 9, 2021
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