Saturday, December 13, 2014

When Wheelchairs Are Not a Cross to Bear in life ...

Yes, I can understand when a person's life has been altered after an accident or surgery or a disease attacks their  body, it can be a game changer.  Ask anyone who had to use one while recovering from surgery or car accident or illness and they'll give you an earful. It is a navigational nightmare using one in a home and out in the community and I can totally empathize with their woes and challenges getting to and from places.  I don't exactly enjoy lugging a wheelchair  in and out of the car or transferring my daughter into the car in the middle of a thunderstorm, but it's what we do.  So let's try to do it with dignity and respect on behalf of the person who needs help regardless if their condition is permanent or temporary.

For my daughter and other children who have conditions that are permanent, it is not a "cross to bear" or a "death sentence" to be stuck in a chair.  The only real burden here for  families without financial means for a wheelchair lift, respite, nurses aides, etc., is that not having these things creates barriers. It prevents them from being the family they want to be.  It prevents the person in the wheelchair from being the person they were meant to be.   Since wheelchairs are  their only path to their independence, we must learn to how to make life more accessible for them.  Wheelchairs give our family and friends dignity and quality life.  It gives them purpose. It doesn't define who they are, it defines what they are capable of being. Without a wheelchair, my daughter would not be able to attend school, cheer-leading, or become involved in the community.

So the next time you see me with my daughter, please feel free to offer to help her.    Somedays I can manage fine, but it's okay if you ask her if SHE needs help.  There are other days you will find her appreciating your offer to help.  She may even smile and reach out to say hello.  And afterward, I hope you feel good about reaching out to help another person continue living their life with  dignity and respect they deserve.

Happy Holidays.

1 comment:

Jennifer King said...

It was such a harsh reality to accept that Jonah needed to have a wheelchair, but now I don't know what we would do without it. It is a part of who he is, and not a cross to bear. Thanks for this thought provoking post.