‘Tis the season for holiday gift lists.
For about eight years after my injury in 1985, I was bothered by annual variations of “gift ideas for wheelchair users,” and I couldn’t figure out why. I’d learned to live and thrive as an adventurous T10 para, and would have been thrilled with a gift of, say, a new race chair. Heck, I would have been thrilled with a pair of wheelchair racing gloves. So why the resistance to lists?
Finally, I decided to solve my befuddlement. This meant visiting the dark corner of my mind where the remains of my “life turned upside down” — that sense of loss and confusion over my injury — were kept under lock and key.
I realized that bits and pieces of the locked-away feelings had escaped and crossed synapses with my “little kid” understanding of a “gift.” When I was young, I would ask for gifts that were related to my latest interest or passion — first drumming, then oceanography, then skiing. I certainly never had a passion to be a wheelchair user. … Aha! So that was what was creating the confusion.
As simple as it sounds, it took some serious introspection to unwind the various feelings and sort them into their proper place and become OK with this.