Everyday is a life lesson some way or another.
I have a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy a progressive muscle wasting condition I use a wheelchair 24/7, 365 days of the year unless we have a leap year of course. That has been my reality of more than two and a bit decades. But my wheelchair has given me a unique perspective that I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China.
Transitioning for adults and children new to the disability community, the thought of having to use a wheelchair can already be hugely daunting and scary place but it’s also surrounded With some negativity. You only have to look at the words and phrases we use to describe it: “bound,” “confined,”. “have to use,”. While old-fashioned these words and phrases, unfortunately are still in our everyday language and the way we/Society think about disability.
My first wheelchair was when I was 25 wasn’t anything fancy or powered it was your standard run of mill manual wheelchair in sexy black of course from wheelchair services, with big wheels and long handlebars which gave me the option to not only be able to push myself and get around but it also allowed my partner, family or friends to push me where I needed to go. Hubby on several occasions wondered off and left me hanging around the shop aisle forgetting he needed to take me with him!!
Since then I have upgraded and had a few powered wheelchairs over the years that have given me even more freedom and independence you could say a whole new lease of life. At times, my wheelchair has also allowed me to see the not-so-nice side of life, but it has also opened up a world of opportunities that would not have been possible without it.
Example, my blog, the campaigning work with Tesco and Changing places, being a freelance writer, the awards I’ve won and tv/ radio opportunities without my wheels I probably would not have done any of these things.
Let’s face it when people see/met you for the first time your wheelchair is the first thing they see, it’s definitely been a conversation starters. using a wheelchair, you’re going to either stick out like a sore thumb or become invisible. I’m one of those really annoying people that constantly has a smile on their face which seems to work – allowing people to feel comfortable approaching and striking up a conversation.
While my wheelchair has opened up some incredible doors and positive lifelong friends, my husband and other amazing people. it’s also a reminder that there are some not so great people in the world. Having a wheelchair or any type of disability you will quickly notice that people will judge you. Stare at you. Say ignorant things. Say some pretty awful things. Say you can’t do it. Tell you no. Ask you a lot of questions.
Life can be hard. But life can be hard for everyone. Life can also be really, really great.
In the past, It would make me so angry I would want to scream and shout at them I quickly realised you can’t argue with stupid and ignorance will always be ignorance. But what I can do is teach the ones that want to make a difference by sharing my story, my struggles, the barriers I face every day. A wheelchair will quickly teach you who is worth your time and energy.
A wheelchair gives you the platform to be an advocate not only for yourself but for creating a more equal playing field for everyone else.
I’m thankful that I’ve been able to see the world on both sides of the fence from being non-disabled to disabled it’s definitely made me appreciate the life lessons, it’s taught me to see the world in a very different way, to be more patient, caring, understanding and humble.
A wheelchair gives you, your freedom and Independence the opportunity to participate in life, get engaged, and gives the gift of a unique perspective and valuable skills that will take you throughout your life.
The saying really is true that when one door closes, another opens. Focusing on the negative will only blindside you into seeing the things you cannot do instead of looking for the opportunities that you can.
The best life lesson that my wheelchair has taught me is to appreciate life! My chair has travelled with me, introduced me to lifelong friends, campaigned for a more inclusive and diverse world, allowed me to spend time with my family and friends, wheeled me down the aisle on my wedding day, I don’t know where I would be without it and it is a good reminder to appreciate the little things in life.
I would love to hear your Wheelchair stories what do you appreciate about having a wheelchair or you might not have one and have questions feel free to leave me a comment.
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