For some people wheelchair use is a lifelong thing, but for others there comes a point where everything changes. Whether it’s some sort of paralysis or a degenerative condition, many of us reach a point where the choices are to sit on the sofa/stay in bed all day, or use a wheelchair and get out and experience life as a wheelchair user. When I reached the point where I simply could not get out of my home any more, I cried and then purchased a wheelchair from a healthcare organisation. After the grief came the big realisation, the ‘where have you been all my life’?
I campaign/moan an awful lot about poor wheelchair access and everyday ableism, and I still stand behind my assertions, but here’s something I’ve yet to tell you about my wheelchair. It saved my life. It changed my life in such a profound way I truly know I could not live, truly live without it. Yes it’s a different life, maybe not the one I imagined when I was growing up, but by god is it exciting. I went pretty quickly from being a virtual recluse, grounded because of disability, to getting back out in the world, if anything more than I ever did before.
I have spoken with many people in similar situations, either injured or just diagnosed with a ‘life limiting’ condition. The thought of using a wheelchair upsets them greatly as they see it as a step back, and it really can seem that way at the time. For my, my personal experience was anything but.
My wheelchair was my second chance. When I was diagnosed, and even before then when my body was falling apart, I had made my peace with what I thought were certainties in my life; that I’d never meet someone to love me and that I’d never have a ‘normal’ life. Fast forward several years later and I’m married to a man who loves me as I am and who I love more than words can describe. Normal life? Stuff that! I go out to concerts, wheel catwalks, meet old friends and make new ones. In short I do what I want and I bloody love it!