Thursday, April 21, 2011
Freedom. That is what a wheelchair means to so many people, including myself. Without my wheelchair, my world stands still.
For the first seven years of my life, I depended on my family to help me with the simplest of everyday tasks. Around the house, I was used to "scooting" on the floor to get from room to room on my own. While at school, I depended on friends to push my manual wheelchair from the classroom to the cafeteria and back again. I was under the constant control of others, and I hated it.
A physical therapist suggested that my family get me a power wheelchair. I went through a number of tests to verify that I was able to control a power wheelchair safely. A few months later my "convertible," as it became known around the house, arrived.
Because it was the early 1980's, my choice of color for the cushions on my chair was hot pink of course. Not only was it the hippest of colors, but it would show off my true girlie nature. The very first time that I sat in the chair, I felt my first bit of freedom and independence. Before that moment, I could only dream about it.
Gone were the days of asking to be taken to another room of the house. No more waiting for my mom to finish washing the dishes before I would make my journey. I moved on my time and went where I wanted to go.
All these years later, I can't imagine how I lived without my power wheelchair. My "convertible" has taken me through college, to work, to my own house AND down the aisle at my wedding. My "convertible" is now so high-tech, I can even look eye-to-eye with my six-foot tall husband.
More than mobility, my power chair has given me confidence—confidence to look in the mirror each morning, knowing that I’m going to make a difference in the world, and confidence to say, "I look good today" and truly mean it.
Many don't understand that to disabled individuals, a wheelchair, whether manual or power, means everything. These chairs are the legs that will get us from one place to another when our own body will not. With a wheelchair, no longer will disabled individuals sit idly and watch while the world passes them by.
My life has been forever changed by the freedom, both physically and emotionally, that my power wheelchair has brought to me. I go through life knowing that whatever obstacles come my way, I will persevere.
If you see me on the sidewalk, passing by in my convertible, you can rest assured that nothing will hold me back again.
Oh, and one more thing. "If you don't like my driving. . .get off the sidewalk."