A wheelchair may come into your life for many reasons. You may be recovering from a surgery, you may be getting older and less ambulatory, etc. It’s surprising that in 2018, when everyone is supportive of positive body image, that there is still a stigma, a pang of feeling bad, when others see people in wheelchairs. “I’d get the look, ‘I’d rather be dead than be you,” says wheelchair user Amy Nicholas. I have heard, from several wheelchair users, that at some point, their wheelchair becomes a part of them. It’s like another appendage. It’s time to take back your power and feel proud of your wheels the way you would feel proud of any other part of your body.
CARE FOR YOUR CHAIR
And just like you should take pride in all parts of your body, you should take care of it too; all of it, including your wheelchair. It’s important to save your owner’s manual, write your wheelchair serial number on it, and keep it handy. Make a list of maintenance items to remind yourself what needs to be done, and put together a small maintenance kit that contains the tools and supplies you’ll need to use, to save yourself time and simplify the job of keeping your wheelchair in good shape along with the rest of you.
A STYLE ALL YOUR OWN
When it comes to style and need, just like clothing, you have choices. There are several types of wheelchairs that could come in handy dependant on your mobility needs. When choosing a wheelchair, you have options such as standard, lightweight and heavy duty; bear in mind your needs and your budget. Lightweight chairs are lighter and easier to maneuver, while heavy duty or bariatric wheelchairs are meant for offering support for heavier users. You can also find wheel chairs that recline, some of which allow for infinite adjustments up to 180°. And you can accessorize your look along with your wheelchair’s look with cushions and gloves for manual wheelchairs, arm totes to carry your belongings, cup holders, and so on. Kings Floyd’s wheelchair is her “power color” – red. “It makes me feel sexy”
CHOOSE EMPOWERMENT OVER DEFEAT
When out and about in your wheelchair, own it, take pride in the freedom of movement you are choosing to have and the creativity and perseverance you possess to achieve the same things that people without a disability can. On how using a wheelchair has made her life better, Jessy Yates says, “For the first time in my life, I could go to bars, clubs and events without worrying about walking through crowds. I could carry my own groceries and trays of food and coffee.” An added bonus? Her career improved because she could fully immerse herself in roles rather than worrying about falling on stage. “Being a chair user,” she says, “has only made my life better.” So if you are feeling embarrassed, ashamed, or less than because you are using a wheelchair, take a deep breath. It will all be ok, you too can rock your style, wheelchair and confidence in tow.