On Thursday, I welcomed a shiny new addition to the household. The beautiful I-go Crest Powerchair (in GOLD no less) arrived at my door in a box so big that Nia can hide in it to scare me. I was amazed at how quickly it arrived – we had only ordered it the day before from the lovely staff at Care Co in Canterbury (Hi Simon, Lauren and Lee!). It took a little brain power between the two of us to work out that it wasn’t working, initially, because we forgot to take the plastic wrap off the battery. Oops! However, it was incredibly easy to put together; I charged it up and we were ready to go! I managed to do more in the first two days of owning Bessie (I’m still deciding on a name for my new chariot, but Bessie might stick…) than I had done in the previous two weeks.
On the first day, I didn’t have to call a taxi, but made it all the way through the city to the bus stop, then proceeded to actually get on the bus. This might not seem like a big deal, but if I was to walk up to the bus station, there’s no way in hell that I’d be willing to go any further, on account of the fact that I know I couldn’t get home. I would be fatigued, my legs would be shaking, my hands would be incredibly sore from trying to grip my crutches, and I would be mentally exhausted from trying to act like I was okay (why do we do that?).
So, I got the bus. I warned the driver that it was my first time getting the bus in a chair, so he took a step back, and I was glad that he did. I revved my little engine, did a wheelie onto the bus and crashed into the driver’s compartment, then flattened someone’s toes as I made my way into the wheelchair area. I don’t think I’ll be getting my wheelchair license any time soon!
Anyway, I made it to my doctor’s appointment, then we were able to go across to the university campus for some lunch. This walk alone would have been too much for me without the chair, let alone getting through town and managing the bus beforehand too.
However, even after that, I was not defeated! It was a gorgeous day, and the perfect day for a beach stroll (or roll). I got the bus yet again and got further down the coastline than I’ve ever been. Is there something about having wheels that makes you look trust worthy? I think so. Lots of people smiled and chatted, with one woman even entrusting her grandson’s scooter to us whilst they made an emergency toilet dash. We’ve all been there.
Anyway, after I got home, I even had enough energy to make tea, something I can never do if I’ve been out during the day.
I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that if your body can’t let you enjoy life unaided, using an aid, like a wheelchair, is an asset, not a grievance. You’re not giving up by accepting something that can let you live your life. If you’re short sighted, you wear glasses. If your brother breaks an arm, we urge him to get a cast. If your Nana is deaf, you say very loudly to get a hearing aid. Why should the rest of your body be expected to suffer? ‘Powering through’, which is what I tried to do, doesn’t work. It hurts your body, and it hurts your mind. You get depressed because you can’t do what you want or go where you want. It is your body, so allowing other people to decide what is ‘right’ for it will never work. You’ll end up frustrated, in pain and more tired than ever.
Just because I own a chair doesn’t mean I’ll never get out of it, because I’m lucky enough to have the ability to. It just means that I’m not missing out on life any more, just because of genetics. It means I can use my energy to weight train, I can swim, I can bop along to tunes in the kitchen. I can get out of the house when my muscles are so weak that I can barely make it out of bed. My life isn’t being held hostage by my body any more, and that feels great.