I’m the type of person who does not care if my friends use my wheelchair if I’m not.
Back in high school I was in yearbook production, I could also walk; it was not able to walk like most people think of walking, but nonetheless I was able to get myself from point A to B and back again without using my wheelchair.
One day I’m sitting at the computer using Photoshop to design one of the junior pages. I was not in my wheelchair, I was in the nice “school version” of an office chair because I deemed it more comfortable.
My friend Lance had to go interview someone, about something, and said, “Hey bro, can I use your pimp ride?” Which I didn’t care, “Yea man, whatever, just don’t be trying to go down a set of stairs or whatever.”
About 30 minutes later he came back to class and said, “Man, how do you guys do this, my arms hurt.”
About two weeks after that I was staying after school to work on the yearbook and Lance was with me, a few other students, and the teacher. School was pretty empty at this point, and once again I was not sitting in my wheelchair. When I had to go to the bathroom I decided I would just walk there.
For some reason the bathrooms are locked after school, which I didn’t know at the time; by the time I walked 50 feet in one direction, 150 feet in the other direction, and another 1,000 feet that same direction to end up going to the bathroom to just walk 1,150 feet back to class I opened the door to say, “Man, how do you guys walk, my legs hurt.”
And this leads into my topic.
My mom, who didn’t show signs of our disability until 1973 or 1974; at the age of 18, just got a manual wheelchair. Before that she was using a cane or one of those walkers with wheels on them. She was still able to walk, and still is; but as time goes on it is slowly deteriorating and you can tell she is having a harder time doing so.
Me on the other hand didn’t walk until I was 3 and pretty much had a wheelchair my whole life, 33 years later I’m on my fifth wheelchair and due to how active I am I see myself needing another one sometime around the age of 40.
I was able to walk in the past, but it was…different. I can still walk I suppose, but I need assistance with every step. Back when I was able to run, jump, and skip I still had a wheelchair even though I rarely used it. Around the age of 16 when I entered high school I more or less started using my wheelchair when I was away from home.
I had many years since then to figure out shit that most people don’t know how to do. Wheelie’s, opening doors, getting into my car, and toning my muscles to take me places.
So now my mom is asking me, “How do you open doors?” I can tell her, “You go up to the door until you can’t go any further, then put one hand on the door handle and keep your other hand on the wheel, roll backwards as fast as you car and swing the door open. Then take that arm that you were holding the door open with and use it to catch the door as is closes, use the door and your one arm to move though the door.” Or, “Go up to the door, crack it open, and slowly run into it until it opens to the point that allows you to push yourself though the door.”
But, I don’t know how much she will understand that. She has never done it before. It’s kinda like explaining how to swim when you only know how to stand in a pool.
And she doesn’t have the same arm tone that I do. I can go 500 yards on a sidewalk and not be tired, but I don’t know if she can; and hills, come on man, I can get up a 30 degree incline and understand the physics of weight changes and whatnot. I can even do the same thing on grass based on the fact that I know how to do a wheelie.
But she does not. Part of me wants to call her and say, “You need to go to the mall and just cruise, get your arm strength up.” Then going up a hill, I don’t know if she’ll be able to navigate that without falling backwards because she doesn’t know any better.
Then going down a hill, seems easy, but that too requires knowledge of how to stop, how to steer your chair at a fast rate of speed, and how to control each wheel if you lose traction. The breaks won’t do shit in that case, they might burn your hands and cause you to crash into whatever you’re not steering away from.
Like, I’m not there. I can’t take her to the mall and give her wheelchair lessons. My dad is a motherfucking genius when it comes to physics, but I don’t know how much he can help either. I’m 1,600 miles away I just can’t be like, “Do this,” and even when I do move to Oregon I’ll still be about 200 miles away.
Last night I told her, “Go to Youtube, that’s a good resource for almost anything that you want to know.”
I was on the phone with her when she said, “Boy, carpet is so much harder then wood.” Part of me felt good that she can finally grasp that understanding, and part of me was like “Well no shit.”