Living life in a wheelchair has many obvious disadvantages. However, in one of the groups I am in, Raina turned the tables and posed this question, “What are some good things you found about being in a wheelchair?”
Yes, it may be a stretch to think of any positives. My husband and I talk about this often. Has anything good come out of this accident?
Raina says, “Mine is it has given me an empathy for, and insight nearly no nurse has, for my patients that are wheelchair users. It’s much easier, I feel, for my patients that are wheelchair users to listen to certain things I say or tell them they need to do.”
Shoshana gives a similar response, “Empathy for people with any health problems. I was very oblivious before I became disabled, and when people complained to me about being in pain, I thought that it was all in their head.”
Most people have no idea what it’s like to be in a wheelchair. I still have no idea except through my husband’s experience! My cousin Sally had polio and was in a wheelchair. She lived alone in this cute house in Bristol, PA. When we visited her she would put the pot of water on for tea and set the table. I grew up knowing someone who was lived independently so I knew it was possible. But I didn’t know the struggles.
Donna says, “Being in a wheelchair has really helped slow me down and not take life for granted.”
Carol says, “I think God was telling me to slow down and appreciate breathing and the world and life around me. I worked non-stop before.”
This idea of slowing down has come up more than a few times with my husband Arthur and me. My husband was the energizer bunny pre-accident. I would have to lasso and tackle him if I wanted to slow down. He didn’t want to sit still to watch TV. He spent his day racing around running errands, helping friends, fixing the car or helping his church. His day ended around 10:00pm. Now, he’s usually in bed between 8 and 9:00, completely wiped out. But because he has been forced to slow down, we spend more time together. We have leisurely days and cozy evenings watching TV and eating popcorn.
Mandy shares, “I deleted my response a few times because I could not think of a positive.” Then she thought of a few:
- I usually get helped first when standing in a line
- Get great seats to concerts
- My “helper” usually gets a free ticket to shows I go to.
Getting good seats at concerts is definitely a perk that Arthur and I have enjoyed. We do pay more for our tickets but they are front and center at the Kennedy Center. The less expensive seats are in the last row. There is no middle ground here. Several other local theaters have seats close to the stage for wheelchair users. We find the staff to be incredibly helpful. At the Kennedy Center, they wheel my husband (with his permission) into the theater and to his seat. They have escorted us out to our car as well. This has saved my energy and saved his arms – worn out rotator cuff is a real thing.
Louise also shares the struggle of looking for the silver lining, “I’m trying to sound positive but it is hard. So very, very hard. I see people walking and I think back to the days when putting one foot ahead of the other was nothing I had to think about.”
Lacquanda’s response is insightful, “I was abled able-bodied before my injury and I am thankful to get to experience what people who are born disabled go through. I get to have actual perspective. I have gained a lot of depth and patience.”
Sometimes we lean into our faith.
Dianne says, “It has taught me to trust God completely to meet all my needs. His steadfast love for me and His grace to me is awesome.”
Imagine having complete trust in God to meet all of your needs!
Faith is what has kept Arthur and me together. A lot of prayer and the belief that God would be with me every step of the way. Without that belief, without that spiritual support, I don’t think we would have made it. Many friends prayed for us and continue to pray for us. Many, many hands helped both of us during the during Arthur’s recovery and beyond. Some lent an ear to one or both of us when we needed to cry or vent. One friend drove a van full of friends to see Arthur in rehab on several occasions. Numerous friends helped me pack and get the house ready to sell. I knew God was working when we had all this support in a situation that seemed hopeless and we felt helpless.
Bonnie says, “I miss spontaneity.”
Yes, we do too. Nothing is spontaneous. Everything is planned down to the time it takes for him to get dressed, get showered and get into the car. Because Arthur doesn’t always have the energy to do two things in one day, some days he either chooses a shower or chooses to go out.
Jillian shares, “My friends would say “being the pack mule at theme parks” is the best part of me using a chair.” I admit it’s nice having somewhere to stow my packages when we’re shopping. It’s like having a stroller when the kids were little. Didn’t you throw everything into it?
Connie says this about her husband, “He understands what it feels like to be excluded and doesn’t want to do it to others.”
A few responded with humor. “No matter what, I have a place to sit down,” from Karen.
Dee reminds us that the chair moves and without it, many would be house-bound. “I love that I still have my freedom and independence.”
Arthur agrees, “I am more mobile with my wheelchair. They are my legs. I can do activities on my own.”
I don’t know if anyone would choose being in a wheelchair over being able-bodied. But to view the world in a different way, grow in ways you didn’t ever think you could or would, is a rare opportunity.
Nicole sums it up, “I get the opportunity most every day to see the best in people.”
Angela is the wife of a paraplegic. Through a tragic motorcycle accident, her husband severed his spine in 2015. This is her journey – to grow, to share and to educate others about life as paraplegic/wheelchair user and living with a paraplegic/wheelchair user.
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