Beware the Chair

There are commercials on television, especially during midafternoon hours, that show smiling people floating around on level sidewalks in flat parks on beautiful weather days on wheelchairs that look like fun and fit them perfectly while children lovingly prance around them and occasionally hug them or sit on their lap.  I clipped these scenes from those commercials.

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Commercials are made to sell products, so wheelchair companies show their use in the best possible circumstances.  The reality for a wheelchair user is that most places you go are crowded, weather is often hot or cold (sometimes raining or snowing), rarely is the terrain flat, and there are usually barriers to overcome or retreat from.  The truth is, it can be scary to trust a machine to move your body instead of your own legs.  Seldom would a squirmy child sit still on a lap, or would someone with mobility so limited be able to concentrate on operating a power chair while safely holding a child.  The commercials are, of course, unrealistic.

My chair sits on the side of my bedroom – ominous not only in its size, but in what it represents. It is the finality of my sedentary position. It screams unable to walk, unable to move, unable to transfer, unable to easily go places even on wheels.  It represents increased limitations.

I still believe legs are the best way to move a body, but my next choice is my scooter.  Riding in it feels more comfortable and safer because of the tiller in front of me. If I miscalculate, it’s the front of the scooter that hits something and not my knees. Controlling my movement left and right like the handles of a bicycle is comfortable, and going forwards and backwards seems easier with the levers on the scooter as opposed to the joystick of the wheelchair. My scooter isn’t powerful, but it’s small.  With it, I can zip through parking lots, stores and many other places where a big wheelchair wouldn’t fit. It moves more easily in and through places and maneuvers well with little effort.  Even when it is in a still position, it seems easier.  As long as I can manage getting in and out of the van and Mr. Legs doesn’t mind getting the scooter in and out of it, it’s what I’ll use.

Once I begin to consistently use the wheelchair, I will have forever lost options.  With the wheelchair, I am homebound without spending a huge amount of money on a vehicle that will accommodate and carry it.

IMG_1343 (2)It’s quite a machine, my wheelchair.  The occupational therapist who ordered it did some things right. It was made to fit my height and weight.  It seems larger than what  would be required, but I suspect he took into account the possible impending “spread” of someone in a sedentary position.  It’s head rest is comfortable and it allows me to use its incredible tilting feature to modify my position and relieve constant pressure in one area. It even has a cushion that can be programmed for my comfort.  I’m grateful to have it and for insurance that paid a good portion of it’s cost.  I use it more these days, but am not yet limited to it.  I prefer to use my scooter whenever I can, but the day will come when the wheelchair will be my only option.

It sits on the side of the bedroom, inviting me …..enticing me…..coaxing me…. almost teasing me with what it has to offer.

Wary of its offerings, I resist it because of what it may also take away from me.  Beware the chair.

I will use the scooter as long as I can because I appreciate its agility and the exercise it requires.  At the same time, I will prepare myself for being in the chair more.  I know God will give me the strength to adjust when the time comes.

About Climbing Downhill

Wife and mother of grown kids, in my 60's and dealing with MS, making life's moments count and trying to offer something of value to others along the way.
This entry was posted in MS/Multiple Sclerosis and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Beware the Chair

  1. Declan Groeger says:

    Agree totally. Beware the chair. Unfortunately a necessary evil but in reality a benevolent tool to make our lives easier.

  2. Thank you Christine. Hate it that others are in a position to relate to what I write, but glad we are able to connect. Just saw you posted a new poem today – can’t wait to read it!

  3. Cath says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful post! You painted the perfect picture as you “zip through parking lots, stores and many other places” as the cool breeze blows through your hair! 🙂

  4. It is very easy to understand your trepidation. I have a scooter that is waiting for my butt to fill its seat—but I prefer to use my manual wheelchair to go distances. I don’t even enjoy being pushed in my chair–don’t want to look feeble. (How weird is that?)
    Your power wheelchair does look quite ominous, so I share your feelings.
    Keep moving & keep busy. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Not weird at all Sock, I get it and am the same way. Being pushed is giving up control and choices. Batteries save personal energy and allow you to maintain control – use them when it’s smart so you can go further, do more and last longer. Nobody with your sharp sense of humor is feeble!

  5. livinwheeled says:

    Well this was an enlightening article. I’ve used a powerchair my whole life so I can’t really relate to what you’re going through but I enjoyed gaining a better understanding so thanks for that. I totally agree regarding the commercials for Powerchairs though, they make me laugh. However my nephews and nieces do ride along sometimes, my chair has the batteries in back so the battery compartment sticks out a bit offering a space for a small child to stand and hang onto the handlebars, they love it!

    • Hi Natalie! Thanks for reading my post and for commenting with your perspective. I took a quick glance at your blog and am anxious to go back and read more – I can tell I will be able to learn from you. Wishing you could give me driving lessons, but I suspect much of proficiency comes from practice and depends on driver and what’s driven. I feel more optimistic now and will be looking for opportunities to ask for advice from those who have experience. Thanks again.

      • livinwheeled says:

        You’re very welcome. I’m glad I was able to ease some of your trepidation. Your post has inspired me to write some wheelchair tips in my next blog but I’m not exactly sure where to start. Maybe you and even some others who’ve replied here could use my blog’s “ask me anything” section to ask me questions about wheelchair use.

  6. Pingback: Powerchairs: An Overview « Livin' Wheeled

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