Today I Bought a Wheelchair. It’s Okay, and I May Even Walk More Because of It.


Sometimes what we dread can surprise us and turn around. My engagement with wheelchairs began about ten years ago with electric scooters in amusement parks. That didn’t feel too bad, and back then it got you to the head of the line. It took me a long time to accept airport wheelchair service, and I am still not thrilled about being escorted by an always kind, hard working soul in the airport. But because it helps so much, I finally stopped fighting it and have become used to it and to the sometimes interesting conversations with folks. The idea of my own chair, however, has always felt like a big line which I needed to work hard not to cross. I thought about it as a true Rubicon, something to be dreaded, something to inspire action to avoid crossing that line.

But today, on this sunny day, Oscar the dog and I wandered into the well-appointed medical supply store that sits across from some of our favorite restaurants near our house.

There are walks out of my reach, but many times they would not be out of my reach if I could just sit for a bit. There are also walks with other people who could continue the walk with me sitting for a bit while they push. The arc of need and desire to keep walking led me this morning to look at what else might help, thinking it might be a light wheelchair with high enough arms to also serve as a walker. And Eureka! Of course it exists. It’s aluminum and folds up easily. It is a travel chair, not one you can wheel yourself. It has handbrakes on the comfortable handles. I don’t know whether it will work as well as I hope, but we shall see. I am cancelling my electric scooter for the MS Walk in April. I will walk some of it, and, for some of it, my team, the GREEN MANiacs, will push.

Oscar liked the shop, and though he is afraid of luggage, brooms, vacuums, and even large packages, he did not mind the wheelchairs at all. He received his usual attention and admiration from the salesman and customers. I pushed the chair around with Oscar. Then Bill, the salesman, pushed the chair around with me in it and Oscar along side. The humans dealt with financial details, and Oscar and I left, looking forward to having a new friend in a few days.

Just like that. I own a wheelchair. Like my handsome canes, it may become a part of my look and my way. I may walk more because of it, or I may not. Either way, today it feels full of promise. Most important, it just feels okay.

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