It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Powerchair: A Very Dichotomous Piece of Equipment

I was just writing an email to someone that ended up taking on a life of it's own. They tend to do that a lot... Here's part of it.

Here are all the reasons I hate my powerchair (linked to accompanying previous posts where applicable):

People in wheelchairs get fat, and I can't get fat. That's been made perfectly clear by quite a few people including my own mother.

If I don't walk I won't be able to walk, plain and simple (see post linked to above). Then there's a very good chance that I'll need a PCA, and it's not bad that people have them, it's just that I imagine going from never needing one to needing one would be quite an adjustment. I've learned too much by hanging around here so much. I've learned that full time chair users have to worry about pressure sores and have a much higher likelihood of osteoporosis. I refuse to break bones by accident. Pretty scared of breaking my hip. It hurt enough the first time (on purpose). Not looking for a repeat. It's the worse pain I've ever felt in my life and I have a crazy high tolerance.

I've been told to take it to the main part of campus and then dump it somewhere and walk. Like I didn't already know that. In case you don't know, scooters have keys, powerchairs just have buttons. I can't figure out somewhere where I won't be paranoid someone will steal it, and for that matter, break it more then I already have. I suck at steering. Insurance won't pay for 2 chairs in one year, so when I finally order the power assist, this one better last.

Where I generally eat lunch is on the second floor of the building it's in. It's a bitch to get up there with the chair. I go up there for lunch about 3 days a week and I have standing fri night dinner plans there. If I drive the chair to the main campus and then am in essence chained to it (cause someone will steal it) I won't go up there ever. Who wants to eat alone all the time, and people will actually miss me. I also need my 2hr lunches there. They're 2 hours during the day where I can decompress when I'm very stressed. But the chair is huge and it's tight to get it in there, and again, I steer like crap. That and the building is old and the only way to get it up there is by using the service elevator. It makes me feel like I'm a second class citizen. I can't even say anything cause I know enough about the ADA and the rehabilitation act to know it's still legal. That infuriates me. I just can't bring myself to do it that often. I do it once in a blue moon. I'm better then that. I'm a whole person and I'll take the stairs thank you.

If I sit too much cause I'm chained to it my back will kill me and after about 6 or 7 weeks I'll have trouble standing in the shower. Back to point number 2.

And my very latest reason: A full time wheeler asked me the other day what the big deal is? What's so great about walking anyway? Well people who walk are smarter of course. I picked that up in preschool but I've never been able to express it so succinctly before. And no one will be my friend if I use the powerchair everyday because they'll think I'm stupid. That took a lot to get over and I was 18 when I decided that.

After all these weeks trying to get to the bottom of this, I don't think this is everything. I think there's a lot more somewhere that I haven't figured out yet, because very simply, I am a second class citizen. Helmes really speaks to me. So yes, being able to get to the mall all by myself, or to a meeting I had a week and a half ago, or being able to help a friend without having to wait for my mom to drive me or without spending forever waiting for a cab is AWESOME. People think of developmental milestones in terms of little children, but that's a big one. I just pulled out my notes from class. Why isn't just simple "independence" on Havenghurst's list of developmental milestones you need to pass in moving from an adolescent to an adult? He's got emotional & financial independence on the list, but not self-determination--to be able to decide what you want, when you want it, and what you need to do to get it. It's a freedom most AB adults take for granted. Unless you're born with CP or down syndrome or have it snatched away from you in a second when you have a stroke at 65 and no one will let you out of a nursing home. Now I'm on a tangent, but I'm angry at this point. Second-class citizen. No one thinks to study anyone with a disability before they come up with these things. We don't take self-determination for granted ever, and as I said in this post, in instances where I can do something with the chair that I could never do without it, I will always feel empowered. But at the same time it's also a very oppressive piece of equipment. Sometimes being able to take the stairs instead of the service elevator, or walking to class, is just as empowering. Because I can do that myself without the chair and without the hassle it can cause me. I guess that's the 7th reason I was looking for.


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