From hating, to loving, your wheelchairApr 28 08:58
There’s a strange battle that goes on in the minds of wheelchair-users when it comes to how they perceive their wheelchair. It’s the classic love/hate relationship humans are notorious for. From fatty foods to cigarettes, we can simultaneously love and hate something and it can drive us crazy.
Its especially uncomfortable for us to have that duality of feelings towards something as powerful, both socially and mentally, as the wheelchair. You feel guilty for hating it, you know there are people across the globe that need wheelchairs, and you should feel lucky you have one at least (you’re allowed to hate your condition still), but you can’t help it.
It changes over time, the way you feel towards your wheelchair, and it can change in an instant. You could love your wheelchair on Tuesday because it got you out in the woods (without anyone’s help w00t), and you could hate it on Saturday because the cool new club downtown has a flight of stairs; and no elevator. When I was first injured, the hate I had for my wheelchair was strong. Everytime my nurse rolled my wheelchair beside my bed in rehab, all I could think was how I wanted to throw the damned thing out my 8th floor window.
When I was new to it, all my wheelchair represented was what I couldn’t do anymore. It was a symbol of my great big mistake (diving into that lake 18 years ago). I had yet to see it for what is really was: The best pack mule a girl could ask for.
Oh how times changes everything. I had no idea the breakdowns and frustrations that were in store for me, the sheer helplessness one feels when your wheelchair isn’t usable. I had no idea how awesome my wheelchair was in the grand scheme of things, how lucky I should feel when it actually works, how no one else would carry my ass around like my wheelchair does. Have no doubt, I still hate that I have a spinal cord injury, I just don’t put the hate on my wheelchair anymore.
Instead, I’ve learned to absolutely LOVE what it does for me.
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1. Tara | Apr 30 02:00
I spent from the ages of 2 to 19 to keep from having to use a wheelchair no matter how hard it was for me. Braces-surgeries-therapy-canes... I struggled everyday and eventually one day it dawned on me and my doctors, therapists that I indeed needed to give in and get my very first wheelchair.. The thing I had avoided like the plague was the very thing that changed my life.. Gave me a life a fun, adventurous life that I didn't have before. Instead of concentrating on every single step and being so tired...I could just hang out with friends and roll around not worrying about anything. Dating was way more fun. So for me it was a god send and I've been rolling ever since. I do love my chair it fits my personality my body... It turned out to be not as scary as I thought it would be.
2. Tiffiny | May 02 04:15
Awesome Tara! Thanks for sharing your story. I think a lot of people out there have experienced the same thing. Wheelchairs FREE us. They don't limit us :)
3. doria evans | May 03 04:07
still in the 'hate my wheel chair', frame of mind
4. forestgoober | May 05 01:01
My ability to walk unassisted was quickly compromised with my MS diag- nosis. It struck early and hard. I wasn't walking and I wasn't going anywhere. Socialization became an issue and the wheelchair discussion was inviting. My wheelchair opened the door and out I went for adventures and memories. I like to say I oozed into my chair without too much thought about it at all; it was actually welcomed. With crutches I felt a social stigma, but the chair was perfectly acceptable and competitive giving me the edge in life. Unfortunately, a spinal condi- tion later developed (apart from MS) making "wheeling" a little more uncomfortable and almost impenetrable to solutions. Oh yeah, the pain, too. I'm going to borrow this from the U. S. Marines: "Adapt, Improvise, Overcome." It's been tough, taking a lot out of me but it has also given me incentive to seek alternatives to life's problems.
5. RG | Jul 22 01:38
I don't know if this will mean anything to anyone, but when I see a beautiful woman in a wheelchair, I don't think of anything but how strong and independent she looks. After a second I don't see that chair anymore. So if a man offers to hold a door open for you, or push an elevator button, or whatever; its not because you're using a wheelchair, it's not because we pity you, its not because we feel we have to. We might just be flirting with you. RG
6. wheelinallover | Sep 01 07:44
I hated my wheelchair until it broke. The nearest replacement parts were six hundred miles away so I had to stay in bed and wait. When the local VA found out they sent a loaner wheelchair which made me mobile again. From that day on I couldn't hate the only thing which made my life bearable. Since with a wheelchair I am mobile and active the lesson I learned was never only have one wheelchair. I now have five and I love them all. From the antique to the newest each give me a different feeling of freedom.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.