Wheelchair life – nothing is simple

Most of us can only imagine what it is like to be wheelchair bound. Here, Raina Jones eloquently shares her experience living life in a wheelchair.

You LOATHE the dependence, but are afraid of the steps you must take to become more independent.

They don’t look like steps, they look like cliffs. Cliffs you could so easily fall from if you fail, crushing your already frail ego and self image.

Your ego is like rice paper, at first. Any victory feels almost silly, because you already know how to do it, but every failure is a blow to your very soul. You know how to do this…why is it now so hard and scary? Why is, say, boiling water for pasta now a monumental task…when I didn’t used to think about it twice?

You know how to do it, but you don’t. Everything is from a completely different physical perspective now. New angles, new trajectories, new approach to attack…just to make a pot of tea or simple pasta.

Except it’s not “just” anything. It’s everything. Every…single…thing. It’s just so much and so horribly overwhelming, because it’s everything, all the time.

Then you do take those first steps.

I doubt I will ever forget the day, only just a few weeks ago, when I just got tired of waiting on everyone else…just to do a full shopping trip for me, the dogs, and the kids. I wasn’t angry. I was just so damned irritated with waiting for everyone else to “find” time for me to purchase their food and our household necessities.

So I loaded into the van, fully charged chair as my steed.

I worried about if I would accidentally run someone over with my cart, hit a display and send merchandise flying all akimbo, if a small child would bolt out into the way and cause me to accidentally hurt them, how would I handle the checkout and bagging? Would I be able to see the card scanner, or would I look a crippled fool? Could I get all of the items out of the bottom of the cart or would the line be slowed as the cashier had to come around and help me? Would anyone be around to help me reach down the blue capped glass jar of honey I wouldn’t be able to reach down myself?  I really want it for my tea…

But I was irritated. I raised my own child and several foster children as a single mother. I earned three degrees while doing that. In my career, I helped other people recover from anything from gunshot wounds to simple falls. Why couldn’t I help myself and not lose my cool? Why was it so hard? I’m a very independent and assertive female…but I was afraid to do my own shopping…

So I sat in my van in the blue spot for 15 minutes once I got there, screaming at myself violently in my own head. “Suck it up you moron! Millions of people go shopping every day! You aren’t special! Who’s going to go shopping if the kids are sick??! You, you idiot. Now you suck it up, figure it out, and you…make…this…happen you sad sack! You unload that chair by yourself, roll yourself in there, grab a cart like you’ve done this every day of your life!! Get to it, now! Why…won’t…you…just…GO ALREADY?! GO! GO! MOVE IT NOW!”

It seems harsh, but sometimes I have to be a bit rude to me to get me going.

So I did just that. I got the chair out, took one of the deepest breaths of my life, told myself that failure was not an option and I WAS going to do this…now…by myself.

So I did. I didn’t plow anyone down. I didn’t slam into merchandise and send it skittering half way across the store. I tilted the screen to see the card reader screen. I bagged most of my own groceries. I planned how I placed things in the cart so I could remove them all without help. I even smiled a bit.

I had to fake being confident sooooo hard.

But I did it. It’s a “small” thing…except it wasn’t at all to me. To me it was an intense win. Objective accomplished. Kicked that shopping square in it’s arse!🤣

The prospect of failure was overwhelming because it’s supposedly “simple”, except it wasn’t.

It was a mega accomplishment for me. I only had one panic attack and I pushed the cart through the entire store! I did have to have help lifting a big bag of dog food into the cart, but everything else was all ME!

This is written and re-posted with permission from Raina Jones. It is her response to  https://theitaliangrandmama.com/2019/10/11/my-husbands-independence-day.10/14/19

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