Sunday, September 29, 2013

Not Confined

In countless articles and news stories about people with disabilities who are wheelchair users, the person is often referred to as being confined to a wheelchair. This phrase makes it seem that having to use a wheelchair is a horrible fate. It creates images in my mind of a person being chained to a wheelchair, or a person being punished for a crime by being confined to a wheelchair.

As a wheelchair user for thirty-four years, I don't consider using a wheelchair to be a terrible thing. To me it is a device of freedom and liberation. At the age of eleven, walking became too much of a struggle, so I got my first wheelchair. The wheelchair was a relief and enabled me to move around minus the struggle to walk and the frequent falling down. For a short time I was able to wheel myself around, but when that became too difficult, I got my first power wheelchair and was able to zip around with less effort. I was not confined. If not for the wheelchair, I would be bed-ridden and unable to go anywhere. My wheels serve as my legs.

I feel that a phrase such as, confined to a wheelchair contributes to the feeling among people without disabilities that a person who uses a wheelchair deserves pity, or is a hero dealing with a horrible fate. Wheelchair users don't want pity, or feel like they deserve a medal for just surviving.


Anonymous said...

I agree John, the wheelchair is a device of freedom and liberation, and I relish that abiity to go wherever I able to. As I like to say it - To boldly go where no wheelchair has gone before.

I have blog showing all the accessible trails and parks here in Northern California. Gives an idea to other wheelchair users what the trail looks like.


Frank Leyda said...

When I first sat in my power wheelchair I felt like I had a sports car. I could zip around in a comfortable position and felt safe while moving for the first time in 12 years.

middle aged woman said...

Thank you for the insights John. I had never thought of it that way. You opened my eyes.

Jon's Pop said...

I understand why you don't think you deserve to be regarded as heroic. You are just living your life.

But many of us have family or friends that have given up when faced with a surmountable challenge, one that was a lot less unyielding than DMD. They couldn't or wouldn't stand up to their challenge and they gave up. They were confined by their lack of spirit.

So, to me you and your DMD brethren are inspirational and heroic as are all people who rise up to overcome, survive and appreciate life as it comes.

I need heroes in my life and I'm lucky to have a lot of them.

Ruby Cullet said...

I admire your humble spirit as we all must strive to achieve true greatness.

Kelley Jhung said...

So true. Love your writing, John.