My Day On Wheels

December 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm (Housewife Life)

I spent Saturday in the hospital getting poked and prodded due to extreme back pain. Because it was very painful to stand and sit, I sat in a wheelchair. You can learn a lot by spending a day in a wheelchair.

There are many things that are labelled “handicap-accessible,” but when put into practice, aren’t. For example, a handicapped toilet stall has bars on the sides, but what good is that if the door to the bathroom has no handle, the door is insanely heavy and isn’t wide enough for a wheelchair, and all the sinks are at regular level?  If someone pees themselves while trying to get into the bathroom, they can’t even wash it off.  This is even more MIND-BOGGLING when you consider that this was a HOSPITAL, the one place that should know better.

I was moved and encouraged by the kindness of strangers. There was always someone willing to help me open a door, help move me where I needed to be, pick something up for me that I had dropped. These weren’t necessarily people wearing hospital uniforms but random everyday people. At one point an orderly wheeling me back from triage offered to position me near a TV. The two TV’s in the waiting room were showing a football game and Harry Potter. I told the orderly I’d like to watch Harry Potter but he put me in front of the football game. (By the way, I hate football, but that’s a separate post.) A robust black man near me grinned and shook his head, waited for the orderly to leave, and turned me around.

Having to navigate your way according to widths and curb depressions really slows a person down. And it’s aggravating as hell. And there are TONS of people who don’t have the luxury of doing things any other way, who can’t suddenly pop a Vicodin and say, “that’s enough,” stand up after seven hours, walk to the car and leave for home.

People who have to spend their lives in wheelchairs should ALL be given motorized wheelchairs for free. It takes a brutal amount of strength and endurance to wheel yourself around. The upper body strength on these folks has to be amazing. It’s not merely strength and endurance though, it’s AIM, and I’m the world’s biggest klutz. So we won’t talk about the bruises on my legs from every time I bumped into something.

I definitely have a new respect and appreciation for disabled people in wheelchairs, and instead of feeling so good about myself the next time I help someone in a wheelchair open a door, I’ll remember what it feels like to have to accept charity for life’s simplest tasks, and to move around in a world that’s not as equipped for you as it thinks.


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