My wheelchair goes in today to get my new ventilator put on the back of it, which is very exciting as the new ventilator has a new feature called a “sip and puff” which means I don’t have to always sport my “sexy elephant” look anymore, as I can just sip on the straw which will give me a boost of air. However, to get all of this done, the fitters need my wheelchair for two days. So what does this mean for me? I can’t leave the house for two days.
To many people, my wheelchair is simply something I sit in and use to get around but to me, it gives me freedom and this is never as obvious as it is in situations like today.
Now it’s not like I go out every day, in fact, I’m quite happy staying at home, especially during university semester when I have lots of work to do. Today has also been booked in for a few weeks now, so I’ve been able to plan around it, but it’s still an inconvenience.
I’m very lucky compared to other electric wheelchair users as at home I don’t use my chair. For those that don’t know me, I use an electric scooter at home as pictured below (sorry for the bad quality picture, I don’t have many of me in my scooter and that one was from 2015). I use my scooter at home for a few reasons, such as it being easier to get around at home and as it doesn’t have the supports like my chair, it means I’m using my muscles more (if you don’t use it you lose it). However, it is not as stable as my chair and, therefore, it isn’t safe to drive in public.
Having the scooter means at least I can get around at home when I don’t have my chair on those rare occasions, however, most people with disabilities don’t have this option, so when they don’t have their chair, they have to stay in bed or sit in something uncomfortable. Staying in bed is definitely no life!
If I was to apply my situation to abled bodied people, it would be like saying, sorry you can’t move your legs for two days so you can’t do anything. You would quickly get sick of being in the one position and let me tell you, it’s not like those romantic movies where you’re significant other just carries you everywhere!
Even when I do have my chair, life isn’t always a breeze. Before going anywhere I always have to make sure they have wheelchair access and you’d be surprised at the many places that aren’t accessible (*cough* members at Belmont *cough*). Even if the place is accessible, I can get there and it won’t be as people don’t always think of everything. For example, the Fremantle prison said it was accessible for a school excursion but there is a massive step to get into the courtyard. This would be fine for a person in a manual chair who can tilt their chair, but it’s impossible for an electric wheelchair. Getting concert/event tickets is a whole another story too (and one which I plan on doing a separate post for), but it’s not just as easy as buying tickets online. We have to ring the accessible line every time and even then there are sometimes issues.
As you can see, my wheelchair is a very important piece of equipment for me. So next time you think it would be funny to joke about wanting a wheelchair yourself so you don’t have to walk, maybe think to yourself “is that’s actually funny” because for some of us don’t have the option of just getting up and walking.