I hear it all the time: people think that using a wheelchair is somehow demeaning, which is completely wrong on so many levels. It’s simply a mobility device that makes it possible for us to live life to its fullest.
I grew up walking with crutches or braces & spent a lot of time in the hospital with hopes to keep on walking. Looking back, I wouldn’t call it walking. It was a slow stagger, a slothy kind of a thing. For a while, it seemed I was getting better and making strides, but after my last surgery, everything started to fade away, and I could no longer do what I had been able to, no matter how hard I tried. I hung in there until I was about nineteen, still not wanting to give into the wheelchair.
Once I had no other choice and got my first wheelchair, I felt different. I felt good with no pain. The first time I went into the mall, it was freaking magical. I could look people in the eye and carry on conversations while moving about, which I could never do before because I had to concentrate so hard, looking down to watch my feet, to avoid tripping. I noticed boys and felt free for the first time in my life. No shackles, no crutches, no braces, nor that fatigue I had always felt. My back wasn’t hurting, not one bit. It didn’t take me long before I loved my wheelchair and named it “Chariots of Fire.” I finally had a life-- a real life. Boys started asking me out. They never had before.
The lesson here is that folk's quality of life is the most important thing. If a chair makes your life easier, then use it. I hear so often that families get bent out of shape when a disabled family member goes to the dark side and gets a wheelchair, regardless of how much easier it is for them. Don’t worry what others think. It only matters what you think.
When I was hovering around 25, my chronic pain developed. they associated it with all the years of walking wrongly and actually said (which is now burned into my soul): “If you didn’t walk the way you did for as long as you did, you wouldn’t have chronic pain." I almost fell onto the floor (good thing I was already sitting in my wheelchair).
I could have saved myself a lot of pain and misery and enjoyed high school. I may have actually been invited to dances or the prom. Yes, it still irks me when I think about all those years I struggled because the doctors kept saying it was going to get better.
I am blessed to have a family who not only supported me thoughout, but who also encouraged me to get my wheelchair, because they saw how miserable it was for me (and for them to watch). It had been like watching a drunken sloth trying to get from point A to point B.