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Friday, 20 November 2015

Why use a wheelchair?

Sometimes, when someone has only (so far) seen me using a wheelchair and then I stand up and walk, they are surprised. One lady recently said what I'm sure others have thought, "Why do you use a wheelchair if you can walk?" I guess it's a valid question. I'll try to explain why I started using a wheelchair and also when I now choose to use it.

It all goes back to when we were planning to leave Finland. I was flying back and forth to the UK for job interviews, without Neil or the boys to help me. The first journey, I got there okay, though I was extremely tired and my essential tremor went into overdrive. The journey back didn't go so well. I drove to Manchester Airport and returned the hire car and then got the bus to the terminal. I checked which terminal but I must have looked at the wrong flight because I ended up at the wrong one, with my crutches and all my luggage. I went inside and the first person I saw was one of the assistance crew. I asked him how long it would take me to walk to the right terminal. He looked me up and down and replied, "At your speed love, about 45 minutes." He must have seen my face, as he quickly offered me a ride in a wheelchair. I was going to refuse but I realised that I could miss my flight if I walked, so I accepted his help.

I thought I would feel really self-conscious in a wheelchair. I thought people would stare at me. I thought I wouldn't like being pushed. Initially, all of those were a little bit true but when he bypassed all the queues and got me checked in, through security and boarded and I realised I wasn't utterly exhausted, a penny dropped. I could start going places and doing things without being constantly in agony and feeling like I was about to collapse.

Now, I use my wheelchair so that I can go out, enjoy trips, enjoy work and not have to worry about when my strength will run out. Before, I avoided most family outings because I knew that after a short while I would want to go home. Now, I don't think about that at all.

Also, my injury left me with lower back pain if I sit on a hard surface or the wrong kind of chair. My wheelchair is extremely comfortable and supportive for my back. It means I can sit wherever and whenever I need to without causing more pain.

So basically, yeah I can walk. I even enjoy a short walk and my wheelchair helps with that. I can hold onto the back of my chair and walk and then sit in and propel. I can keep swapping. It gives me options and it puts my life back in my control, rather than my pain and exhaustion levels controlling me. When I do this, my official line is that I'm a part-time wheelchair user. Unofficially, I'm doing my Little Britain thing!

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