Recently, the arrival of my brand new ultralight chair was delayed- indefinitely. I had been counting down the days to its arrival, and to find this out was heartbreaking.
“Why?” I was asked. “You have a chair, and you can walk! What’s the big deal?”
The wheelchair I have is an El-cheapo ‘out of the box, one size fits all’ chair. Whilst it certainly allowed me to have a small amount of independence again, it was hard to explain to others why it was so important to have something more suited to the task…. So I wrote this analogy. I have spinal osteo-arthritis so yes, I can stand and walk- for short periods.
I’ve taken your shoes away.
You can walk around your own home, but there’s broken glass spread about. You don’t know where. You’ll just step on it occasionally, sending sharp pain into your body, occasionally making you lose balance or fall over. The more steps you take, the more likely you are to step in this glass, until eventually you can't walk at all.
If you want to leave the house, you can wear these concrete thigh high boots. They’ll protect you from the glass, you but you can only walk over smooth surfaces, as you are basically shuffling and can’t lift your feet.
Curbs are a no-no, unless you can find someone to help you. Even some ‘accessible friendly’ ramps you’ll find too steep.
You’ll drop stuff as you attempt to go up and down these inclines, getting stuck instead. It’s a good thing your phone is in a protective case!
Don’t forget to make room for your thigh high boots when sitting down too. They take up a lot of room. Turning in small spaces is difficult as well!
Wearing your concrete thigh high boots suddenly takes a lot more planning and foresight. They make a lot of noise when moving around too, creaking and groaning.
Everyone will notice you. People will look at you strangely, while you're wearing those thigh high concrete boots. Many will do their best to stare at you discreetly. Some will do it more openly. Some people will go out of their way to help you. Most will treat you like the biggest inconvenience of their day.
After all, who are you to get in their way, with your stupid thigh high concrete boots? Can’t you just do stuff at some other time and let them go about their business?
Also, be sure to watch out for stares when taking off your thigh high boots before getting back in the car. I mean, those multiple steps you take (even if there a risk of stepping on broken glass), obviously mean you are a liar, a fake, a fraud.
You can walk! What’s your problem?!
Now, what if you could trade those thigh high boots in for a sleeker, quieter, more flexible pair?
You could wear them at home a lot more, meaning there'd be less chance of standing on that broken glass. You would be able to put them on whilst still in your car, meaning those two or three steps, potentially eliminating some of the painful staring. Small curbs and steeper ‘accessible’ inclines will be achievable now- you’ll be less likely to need help and less likely to drop stuff. Fitting under tables, or even approaching check-out counters, as well as turning around in smaller spaces will be much easier for you. Over time, you’ll learn to maneuver in your new sleek boots, and you will be much more independent. People will still look- but you won’t feel as awkward in your sleeker boots. Maybe they’ll even be looking at how stylish they are? Your life will still take planning and foresight, but things will become much easier over time.
It's a lot of big changes, right? But you can walk. So what's the big deal?