I found comfort in the four wheels that made me visibly different from everyone around me……
It took me months to accept the fact that I was going to have to be okay with being different. To realize that people were going to stare, and it was going to have to be okay.
And after a year, the four wheels that once made me more self conscious than I had ever been, became my safe haven.
They were the only thing that made it possible for me to be human again. The medicine, it wasn’t a fix, it didn’t make it completely possible for me to be me, but the wheels, they gave me freedom, not the kind of freedom that ones own legs provide, but it was more freedom than I had experienced in months, and it was liberating.
I remember very vividly the first time I ever completely relied on a wheelchair, my mom and I were at the Cleveland Clinic for what we would soon find out would be the turning point in this entire journey. My body was so weak and frail, I could barely stand without instantly feeling dizzy or passing out. It became such a chore for me to walk around, that I was staying in bed most of the time, only getting out when someone was home to assist me to the bathroom. We had no idea how we were going to navigate the city of Cleveland with me not being able to make it more than a few steps. At hospitals, there were wheelchairs but we hadn’t come to realize yet that maybe, after all it was time to consider it. That day we hijacked a wheelchair from the hotel we were staying at, and my mom took me on an adventure. I hadn’t been out of the house in forever, and she knew I was struggling emotionally with it all.
I don’t remember a whole lot of that trip but I do remember my mom pushing me down a torn up sidewalk in the hotel wheelchair, Starbucks in tow. She showed me that anything I wanted was possible in this world, it might look a little different than I had planned it, and it might not be as easy, but it was possible.
We returned home from that trip, and shortly after I was the new owner of a blue wheelchair, I’m pretty sure his name was Murphy but I can’t quite remember. That wheelchair provided me for a year with the accessibility, and freedom I had longed for, for months.
To this day I find comfort in wheelchairs. An odd comfort, a safe haven, a reassurance, that I often don’t find in my legs.
I guess that after so long of your body failing you, you begin to doubt it, and search for reassurance and safety in something else, I found that in the chair.
Murphy rests in my garage at home, and most days I forget I even once relied on a chair, unless I see pictures, or spend time with my friend Mia.
If you read my blog regularly you know that my best friend Mia relies on a chair due to a stroke she suffered, as a result of proton therapy radiation. When I’m with Mia I am reminded of what it was like to be in a chair. And while most people look at her and judge her, I understand. I know what it’s like to be the one in the chair. I get it.
It’s hard to be the one on the receiving end of the criticism, and judgement that comes along with being different. Our society is rude, and judgmental to anything that is ‘different’. My best friends mom in high school always joked that I needed a sign on the back of my chair that said “I’m Fine”, because there was nothing I hated more than being stared at. Everyone wanted to know what the normal looking girl was doing in a wheelchair. And I get that, I’m nosey too, we all are, I think.
I’m not quite sure where this blog was going other than the fact that I saw a picture of myself from my best friends prom this past weekend, and I was sitting in her chair, as I often do, and it brought me a kind of comfort, that I don’t often feel. The kind that makes you feel invincible, as if you can do anything.
It’s been four/five years since the accident, and three since I’ve relied on a chair, and I would be lying if I said my body wasn’t still affected from it. I still suffer and struggle with being de-conditioned after spending so much time without reliance on my legs. But everyday I learn to trust my own body, and my legs a little more.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that what might seem uncomfortable/inconvenient at first, may eventually open you up to a world of possibilities.
I’m thankful for what my wheelchair gave me.
I encourage you to be understanding, and treat our fellow souls in chairs the same way you would treat someone relying on legs. We are all the same, and just wanted to be treated equally no matter what we use to get around.
It is okay to be different, and no one should feel ashamed or worried about how the world will react to them.