It was National Rehab Awareness Week September 16-22
Few things you notice as a person in a wheelchair:
- Nobody holds the door open for you.
- Bathrooms are barely ever handicapped accessible.
- Able people use the big stall. THEY DO NOT NEED IT. If you can use the small stall,USE IT. Because when you see someone waiting for the big one who actually cannot get into it, you will feel like a complete FOOL. Complete.
- Not every place has a ramp. Some of my favorite places were not accessible. They are no longer my favorite places.
- People tend to SCREAM at you when they see you in a wheelchair. And, NOT in a “I am mad at you” manner. In a “I assume you are dumb and incapable of having a conversation because of your chair” kind of way. Almost all people that do this DO NOT realize they are doing this.
- STAIRS. They are absolutely EVERYWHERE.
- People pet you. YES, I said it. They pet you. Like you are a goat and they are at a petting ZOO! People: I am officially making a PSA. Get a dog if you want something to pet. Do not assume you can touch someone JUST because they are in a wheelchair. Or walker or using ANY other aide.
- CARS have steps to get into them. High steps.
- Everything is a luxury. It can all be taken away from you in an instant. TRUST ME ON THIS. REREAD, what I just wrote. Now, you have actually absorbed what I am saying.
- BREATHING, WALKING, TALKING, LIVING,THINKING, (TYPING THIS) IS A BLESSING. Live everyday like it is your last.
I am not sure what it is about people and wheelchairs. Why do people automatically feel so stiff around them. I think that it is time to stop the STIGMA. People are people NO matter what shape or form or how they get around. When someone is using crutches there is never such a fuss around them, you come in a wheelchair and all the sudden it’s as if you screamed bomb on an airplane. Why make such a “bad” commotion for a WHEELCHAIR?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that while my friends and I were in the hospital, we struggled to relate to our friends when they would come and visit. Most of them just stared at the wheelchair, bunched up, and froze. The conversations were dull and awkward, and it was difficult because that’s when we need our friends the most.
We need to stop feeling tense and spooked out by the “elephant in the room.”
It is absolutely absurd that in this day and age, this is still an ENORMOUS issue. We are taught to accept everybody. Everyone in every situation, whatever that may BE.
Every race, sexual orientation, political beliefs, gender, job, wealth, marital status, disability, whatever the case may be. At least in my house, that is what we have been brought up hearing. Acceptance. Inclusivity.
Yet the wheelchair, a four-legged creature, seems to lurk in the shadows, never talked about or accepted by its onlookers. We still think of people in wheelchairs as THOSE PEOPLE. The lesser humans. The ones that look funny. Dress weird. We are afraid to go near them. Talk to them. Be seen with them. Date them. We assume they are less smart. And you, the able-bodied, will presumably always be a step ahead of them.
Now who knows what kind of careless remarks people say? Me.
I know some of them because I have not only witnessed them, but have been on the receiving end. I can only imagine how bad they get if these are the worst of what I have seen:
“Look at the crippled kid.” “Can you even feel your dead legs, why didn’t they just chop em off?” “Why are you trembling, too much painkillers? You have any extra? Can you do me a favor and spare me some?” “Ewww! What is that a poop bag? That is gross! ”Are you going to die, like now?” “You are so lucky to be out of school and relax, the hospital is LIT!” “You have cute nurses.” – Look SOME of the nurses were OKAY, but not cute enough to be hospitalized. There were also some very non-cute nurses, I would know. I had a 75 year old man help me shower. Trust me it was nothing near cute. More like an unforgettable DAUNTING, TRAUMATIZING, AND HEART WRENCHING experience that flashes before me daily before I shower.
Some would say I may be suffering from PTSD. They are probably right.
As most kids learned in kindergarten, treat people the way you want and deserve to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes. My shoes.
If you were them, would you want to be asked any of these questions? Harassed and bombarded. The answer is NO. I know that when I was in a wheelchair and people would torpedo me with absurd questions, I grew to resent it.
Talk about anything else. Treat me like a human. Not like a human in a wheelchair. They are APPARENTLY two different things in TODAY’S society. I hope to CHANGE that.