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.
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.
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.