Not too long ago, I wheeled in my front door after a long day, the drive home that felt longer and Shannon out for her first full contact box lacrosse practice. Toby was all over me, the TV was still on and I was trying to figure what I wanted for dinner given the hour. I barely even noticed that an episode of NCIS was on until I looked around Toby’s kisses and noticed two of the team walking up on a unique looking wheelchair sitting in an open field. It was different enough to draw my attention as it wasn’t the standard hospital chair that I’ve criticized TV shows for using as their default “here’s the disabled character” prop for years. Vibrant red that stood out in the gold straw of a farm field, thick off-road main tires with a stretched front to it that gave more stability. It was a beauty of a chair…and then the occupant arrived from the sky in a dual parachute drop.
I wasn’t paying much attention to the story, more to the interaction between Agent McGee and the para character…and how McGee couldn’t stop staring at the chair. It was an obvious interaction those of us on wheels get all the time, but it was the question he asked of the former military man in the chair, and more importantly the answer that struck me tonight.
“Do you ever get used to it?”
“Nope, but you have to make peace with it.”
I’m paraphrasing the response, but that was the gist of it, and it holds true…for me at least.
No one has ever asked me that and I can only hope I’d be able to answer it that well. It’s not something I’ve been able to put into words like that, but it is something I’ve known for a while. No matter how hard you work at it, no matter the adjustments you make to your home, your work, no matter how your friends and family take to you being on wheels…you just never truly get used to it. I think I’ve made peace with it, but I know there are plenty of days where I haven’t. This past year in particular has had its moments for me.I came to be in my chair at age 37. I could, potentially, end up in the chair for more time than I was out of it (being optimistic). Even now, 8 years on, I still remember clearly all those things that I still can’t get used to.
Getting in and out of my car without a production of hydraulics and a pretzeling of legs.
Using a washroom without having to plan every movement in your head before you get ready to use it and mapping out the locations of all washrooms everywhere you go.
Entering my friends homes without the need of them hoisting me up just a few steps into their front doors. Steps I used to hope up 3 at a time with my long legs and now takes two or three people depending on the home as I lay back, thankful for the good will of others.
Being able to cut the lawns and sort out the backyard shed, because you didn’t need ramps to go everywhere in your own home.
Doing laundry. Yep. Laundry. Hard to believe it, but you really can’t get used to not doing it (assuming you had any sense of helping around the house before it happened!)
Dancing badly. Oh yes, I can still dance badly…but I do miss holding Shannon in my arms as I stepped on her toes. Now…I just roll over them.
So in my mind? No, you definitely don’t get used to it. You do your best to adjust, to deal with a life where you’ve become a minority, and keep on keeping on (remind me what movie that was? Sounds like a Matthew McConaughey line). I’m not sure I will ever truly make peace with it. I’m not sure I ever want to make peace with it.
I would be curious what others living life on wheels would think. Can you truly make peace with it?
Who knew NCIS could give me something to think about beyond Dinozzo’s facial expressions when he’d bopped in the back of the head.