Be very careful, your brains can be damaged just by sitting in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs also have the power to make you invisible.
I entered the disabled world by mishap. A motorcycle accident caused me to temporarily be placed into the realm of a wheelchair. A broken left leg and busted pelvis took me off my two feet. Plus, two very smashed hands kept me from being very mobile once I was in a wheelchair.
My wife and I enjoyed escaping the walls of our home from time to time as I recovered from my many injuries. We would visit the mall; watch a movie or eat out at a favorite restaurant. These little excursions were good for the soul and spirit of us both. As I recovered I needed some normal places to visit and my wife, who was my caregiver, needed some fresh air as she cared for her broken man.
A soul-busting experience would happen from time to time as we explored our world after the accident. Someone would spot us and come over to check out our well-fare and give their best wishes. They had the best of intentions but I was often left feeling a little more broken after they left.
The person would speak to my wife and ask questions; how is Tim doing? Is he still in physical therapy? Are there any more surgeries? Along with about a million other questions. The trouble was not the questions; the problem was that I was never asked those questions. Being in a wheelchair sometimes felt like being a chair. I would want to yell that “Hey, I’m alive down here! Talk to me.” Often my wife would redirect the questions to me and I was given a voice in my pain. Other times I would disappear as I watched a conversation about me take place about a few feet above my head.
I remember when a dear friend saw me at a funeral home and came over to talk. The six-foot-something successful businessman, in his tailored dark suit coat got down on his knees and looked me in the eyes and began to talk. I remember tears filling my eyes as we talked. I felt loved and respected by both his graze and touch. His eyes blessed my soul. His hand touched my broken hands and I knew that he cared.
I have returned to the land of the up-right walkers but part of my soul will forever be in a wheelchair. If I see someone in a chair, I feel an urge to talk with them. So I smile big, introduce myself, make eye contact and get down on their level and listen. And sometimes, I reach out and touch my friend and let them know by my touch that I care.
Hey, let’s all do that! Please do not wait to live in a wheelchair to be ready to touch someone in a wheelchair.
No on has ever received brain damage from a wheelchair.
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I too will remember this article every time I see someone in a wheelchair. Thank you for sharing your pain and making all of us aware that we are capable of making that pain worse or uplifting that unfortunate soul. They are, of course, no less a real person; but, how easy it is to forget our manners. I always love to hear the "insiders" account. Thanks again.
Thank you Tim, My son was paralyzed at age 17. We have lived with the reality of "the wheelchair" for 13 years now. Without a shadow of a doubt, many people think if your body doesn't work neither does your mind. Thank you for sharing the truth.