About six months ago, a mobility equipment company up the highway and my insurance company worked together to get me a new wheelchair. It’s quite a machine.
It also reclines….and lifts the footplate up to elevate my feet, which helps with circulation.
AND, it actually hydraulically elevates up to a foot in height!
Working together, all of those features allow a multitude of configurations for positioning my body.
Wheelchairs and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate that I need one, but I love that they are available to me. Without a wheelchair, I would go nowhere. With an electric wheelchair, I have not only mobility, but am allowed independence and comfort. In the perspective of our world, having the kind of wheelchair I do makes me feel spoiled.
While I am grateful for good insurance and today’s technology, there are daily annoyances when using it.
- Wheelchairs are big, especially mine. When I was a walkin’ woman, I stood at 5’ 11”. Aside from some awkward preteen years, I embraced and enjoyed my height. In a wheelchair, however, my height actually works against me. My long limbs and torso require a deeper, wider and taller wheelchair than a shorter person would. In a room of standing people, I estimate that the size of my wheelchair takes the space of three people; so when I’m in my chair in public, I feel big and always in the way. Even if I’m not in it, it takes up space.
- Wheelchairs make noises. The click, click, click of its starting and stopping is loud and repetitive. Whenever I reposition, there is a whirring sound. It rattles, and creaks, and squeaks….let’s just say you can hear me coming.
- Wheelchairs require maintenance. Care must be given to adjusting or replacing parts. It should be dusted and/or washed regularly. Batteries must be monitored and charged.
- Wheelchairs have different movement speed options. Attention must be given to being on the right setting before moving.
- Steering is important and driving a wheelchair takes practice. Bumping into walls and corners should be avoided.
- Headrests, no matter what shape and size, always give the appearance of ET’s head.
- The varied terrain under the wheels can mean a smooth and pleasant or bumpy and scary ride.
All of these irritations can add up over time.
When I am on my chair, I am thankful for its comfort. Transferring in and out of it is becoming more difficult. I do, at times, send Mr. Legs on his way without me and let him know by text when I am safely back in my chair. One day, in an effort to be lighthearted, I texted that I was “back on the saddle”. And as I typed it on my phone, I liked the sound of it and the image it gave.
I decided that riding a horse was a lot more appealing than riding in a wheelchair. I mean, haven’t most girls, at some point in their lives, at least imagined galloping through a field on a beautiful mare or stallion?
Horses are a lot like wheelchairs.
- Horses are big. You have to have space for one, whether you’re using it or not.
- Horses make noises. Their hooves thump on the ground or click on the pavement. They chomp at the bit and neigh.
- Horses require maintenance. They must be fed, watered, shoed, and cleaned up after. Grooming and exercise are important.
- Horses have different movement speeds. Low speed is a walk, faster is a trot….a canter even faster. Moving over rough ground feels like a gallop, high speed like a race. Uneven pavement is like jumping a fence. Transferring onto a wheelchair can feel like mounting a horse. Horses must be given proper commands.
- Steering is important and riding a horse takes practice.
- Riding on a horse can be bumpy.
Yes, there are similarities. Riding a horse sounds and seems nicer though, even romantic. And so, when the annoyances of my wheelchair start to bother me, I will try to think that I am actually riding a horse. It might make needing a wheelchair a little more appealing if I view it as a companion with a name and personality. Yes, in my imagination, I will be riding a horse….and I shall call her Trixie!