I think it’s time I tell you why I’m in a wheelchair even though, technically, I have the ability to ambulate. While I might be able to physically create the motions which one requires for walking, I have less than zero balance on my feet. To illustrate how little balance I have something I often say to people, and I’m not exaggerating, “A brick would float before I’d be able to stand unaided.”
So, why the wheelchair?
In a word: simplicity. Yes, I can ‘walk’ in a walker but the majority of them are high-risk to use as, although the help with walking, they often do very little in the way of supporting you. Combine the lack of support with non-existent balance and the result is not a pretty one.
Yes, I can ‘walk’ in a walker but the majority of them are high-risk to use as, although the help with walking, they often do very little in the way of supporting you. Combine the lack of support with non-existent balance and the result is not a pretty one.
‘Walking’ worked for me but as I got older, I got taller. The only kinds of walkers which provided me with the kind of support I required could be upgraded as you got taller but for every 3 inches it is taller, they assume you grow a little wider (which is not true in my case) so they make it 1 inch wider. By the time I switched to a wheelchair, the walker was fitting through doorways but not was one maybe two upgrades off of not fitting. So the walking option was rapidly becoming a non-option.
I switched to a wheelchair for a protracted period of time after a surgery that bungled up and landed me in a situation which was life-threatening. During the roughly year-long recovery period, I was forced into a wheelchair and I began realising a few things:
- my back wasn’t hurting as much. Why? I wasn’t having to stoop as much and so I was taking pressure off of my back
- It was safer.
- It was more socially-accepted.
People understand wheelchairs; they didn’t understand the walker. Often people asked me what was wrong with me or children would stare and I’d hear the odd child ask their parents “Why does he walk funny?” I got sick of it. Now people assume I’m paralyzed. I’m OK with that, it gives them an answer to their question even if it isn’t the right one.
Also, because I wasn’t expending as much energy walking which would result in back pain etc, my social life improved. Since I was not as tired when I got to class/meeting places, I had more energy to spend on other things like classes and getting more out of life.
Yes, the chair was a choice. Then again, with all the benefits it gave (and still gives) I feel it was a choice that I’d be insane not to make every time.
P.S. If you want to find out what chair I chose it and/or anything else you want to know about me, I’m going to release a Poll on Twitter with some post ideas. The highest ranking gets a post on the next due date.