Are you just really sick of being in a wheelchair? I am. I’m so sick of it I need to vent. I find being in a chair makes me feel claustrophobic, trapped and sometimes like an invalid. Or, am I “invalid”? Yesterday, during a heated discussion with my husband, in a big huff I rolled into another room. And he said, “Don’t you dare roll away from me when I’m talking to you.” If that statement hadn’t been so pathetic, it would have been funny, but I take comfort that at least I could pull off a dramatic roll.
When you are in a wheelchair, people see you differently. You are not at eye level with the rest of the adult world and can be easily overlooked or “invalidated.” How many times have people walked quickly by me, eyes ahead while I struggle to get a door open?
Or take the incident I recently had in the supermarket, where some strange man came up and started pushing me thru the handicapped checkout lane because I wasn’t moving fast enough for him. My husband, a few feet ahead with our shopping cart, looked back, and the guy, while still pushing me, says, “Hey buddy, forget somethin’?” We should, as a group, carry small yet discreet stun guns for just such occasions, but the whole incident made me feel invisible, to say the least.
But I prayed for invisibility about a month ago on another shopping trip with my daughter. We were at a local department store and, while the main aisles are wide enough for a wheelchair, some merchandise displays can even make walking a challenge. I was trying to push myself along between two very full racks. My daughter returned from the other side of the display and was mortified that little plastic hangers holding pretty little panties were now stuck in the spokes of my chair. As I tried to extricate myself from the situation, my wheels knocked the rack just enough so the matching bras above started falling. We hung back up what we could and made a hasty retreat to juniors.
This time of year is especially difficult being in a chair. Rolling over uneven, hard grass to get to a picnic spot or soccer field can give you bladder issues even if you haven’t had them before. And the beach, well….
Another peeve I have with being in a wheelchair in the summer is fashion related. Summer attire is fun, bright and crisp, until I pair it up with the hot, black accessory that has become almost another body part. So as we leave the house, I ask my husband, “Honey is it my new slacks or is it the chair making my butt look big?” He reassures me that it is neither.
I hate being in my wheelchair. My little cat Miss Lottie Lou loves being in my chair. In fact, my wheelchair is at times full of what we call “Lou-fur,” which means my backside is full of cat hair. But, who would know?
Susan Skoney was diagnosed in 1999. She lives in western New York with her husband Michael and children Hannah and Alex. She worked many years in public relations and advertising, and has just started writing about her MS in the last few years.