On this International Day of People with Disabilities #IDPWD2020, I am grateful for my new found freedom with my power wheelchair. It has been interesting becoming a part-time wheelchair user. Reactions from others have been both positive and negative. For people who don’t know me well, they become concerned when they see me rolling by, “Oh, what happened? Oh, what a shame!” They feel sorry for me or they feel like I am “giving up” on walking. Strangers who don’t know me are confused when they see me step out of the wheelchair and pick up my crutches.
Those who know me well know what a joy this chair brings to me! My next door neighbor was super excited for me as she has seen my daily struggle with walking. I have gradually been slowing down in my walking. I can’t stand for more than five minutes at a time. I still walk around my house but now I don’t have to outdoors. I have pain in my left knee from walking, and now pain in my left shoulder from using my crutches for so many years. To me, my chair means less painful days ahead.
My power chair also means freedom. It is a joy today when I can stroll around my neighborhood and enjoy some fresh air without having to fear falling down, or fear being in pain and not being able to get back home. It is a joy to stop and chat with a neighbor (socially distanced) and stay there as long as I want to, because I am not experiencing the pain I would from standing. I even got to surprise my mom by rolling over to her house (a couple blocks away) and surprising her with my new chair. My chair also allows me to spend the energy I have on physical therapy, and yoga rather than using all the energy I have in walking. I will be so excited once the world opens up fully again and I will be able to enjoy going to a mall, or an in-person conference again. Whenever that happens, I will be ready!