6 lessons learned while in wheelchair

Published 8:44 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

Having just recently had ankle surgery and being told that I had to stay off my feet and keep my ankle elevated, my only choice was a wheelchair. Having had a child who spent 17 years of her life in a wheelchair, I thought I knew what was what — wow, was I wrong! I didn’t have a clue as to how really clueless I was.

Lesson 1: It’s hard. It’s not as easy as it looks. One would think that all you do is sit down and move the wheels. Yeah, right! Granted, as this is a temporary situation, I am using the low end, standard, “push me around the hospital” model wheelchair. The only difference between my chair and the car that Fred Flintstone used to cruise around Bedrock in is that I use my hands instead of my feet to power it. It’s exhausting!

Lesson 2: We need longer arms. Even after arriving at my destination, like say the refrigerator, half the time I can’t reach what I want or need anyway. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say I wish I had arms like an orangutan. That brings me to Lesson 3. 

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Lesson 3: The refrigerator. All food, especially desserts and comfort foods, should be kept in the lower half of the refrigerator. It doesn’t do any good for the neighbors to bring you meals if they end up on the top shelf of the fridge; although, I will say if one is trying to lose weight while in a wheelchair, it’s a great diet plan. Usually the bottom of the fridge contains raw veggies and protein items.

Lesson 4: You need a lot of room. Maybe it’s just me, but I have found that life would have been easier for me had I spent the last four weeks living in a gymnasium that contained a bed, easy chair, television and table. The concession stand would have served as a kitchen. I have nicked every doorway and piece of furniture in my house just trying to get from point A to point B.

Lesson 5: ALWAYS apply the breaks when getting in or out of the wheelchair. I learned this the hard way … more than once.

 Lesson 6: People in wheelchairs are my heroes! I have replaced feeling bad for people in wheelchairs to being in awe of them. Life in a wheelchair is challenging, yet people do it every day with courage, determination, strength and smiles on their faces. Wheelchairs are a blessing for those who need them, but not so big a blessing as those who are in them.

Susan Schaub

Albert Lea