Day 208 of Firsts: Spend Three Hours in a Wheelchair

26 Jul

The only disability in life is a bad attitude. ~Scott Hamilton

I don’t know about this quote. There are real disabilities that are very tough to deal with.  I got a tiny glimpse  of what that might be like today.  The local M.S. Society challenged me to spend some time in a wheelchair to mark the 20th anniversary of the American Disabilities Act.

I met Fred Schwartz, ( who has been in a wheelchair with MS for eight years), and Karen Mariner  (who is on the M.S. staff) at NBC 10 this morning. 

In some ways I’m still moved and shaken by my experience.  I thought it would be easy.  It wasn’t. It was eye opening and humbling and at times I felt vulnerable and scared.  That’s the truth.  It  may be one of the most mentally challenging firsts  I’ve done.   

I’m not sure this story really conveys all that happened, but perhaps it gives you an idea.

I think I have good upper body strength but my arms hurt.  Walkways that looked  like they should be pretty easy nearly threw me.

  Fred told me you just get used to things like restaurants not having enough room to maneuver, no handicapped parking available, or not enough space to get his wheelchair out of his car.  

It’s a whole different view of the world when you’re sitting in a wheelchair.  I think it’d be a little different world if everyone had to spend just an hour in a wheelchair.  It should be required in every school. 

Special Thanks to Ann, Karen and Fred at the MS Society for bringing me this enlightening First.

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8 Responses to “Day 208 of Firsts: Spend Three Hours in a Wheelchair”

  1. Jon July 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Hello, nice article. I took care of a friend for a couple of years, and she was in a wheelchair with MS, too. Every day was a struggle for poor Alexis, and sometimes it was difficult to get her to want to go out and do it again, to go to that next doctors appointment, or shopping, or whatever, she was so depressed by it all. Alexis lost her fight with MS in 2007; I miss her, may God give her rest and peace.

    • oneyearoffirsts July 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

      Hi Jon. thanks for your comment. I understand why people who suddenly find themselves in wheelchairs must also sometimes fight depression. It’s a different life. I thank God for my two legs today, but also see the strength of those who find a way to live independently in a world that sometimes makes it very difficult. I’m sorry for your loss and I’m sure your friend appreciated you being there for her.

  2. Kristy July 26, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    This brought tears to my eyes…we have NO clue what people in wheelchairs go through on a day-to-day….second-to-second basis! I have a whole new appreciation for their struggles (and their arm muscles). And to think, you only did it for three hours. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Steve Fiori July 27, 2010 at 12:02 am #

    For sure when it comes to wheelchairs unless you have experienced it, you have no idea. Kids especially think “oh this is fun”. NOT! My first experience with a wheel chair was 13 years ago after an auto accident. That was only for a month.

    Today I’m back in the chair due to complications of Type II Diabetes. They haven’t lopped off any feet yet but I do have “one foot in the operating room”, no pun intended.

    The freedom to get around should be cherished. I know I always used to look at all the handicapped parking spaces and think, “why are all these spaces empty and I can’t find a parking spot”! Today its “damn all these handicap spaces are full why”? Perspective!

    Getting around those 90 degree turns can be real challenging. The size of the chair makes navigating even more challenging for us “wide bodies”. I always thought being tall was great. For the most part it still is, I get to reach those doors with my long arms a lot easier.

    • oneyearoffirsts July 27, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

      Hi Steve, Appreciate your experience and sharing. thanks.

  4. Fred Schwartz July 27, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Hi Lu Ann,

    You portrayed the day with honesty and sincerity here at your blog. Thanks for inviting us into your world for a day and for taking the time to experience mine. I really enjoyed seeing the inner workings of the TV news business, and also enjoyed sharing the wheelchair experience with you.

    I think in three hours you got to experience first hand many of the challenges someone in a wheelchair faces, but you handled them. Using a wheelchair comes with some challenges and frustrations, but no one’s life is without them. I think there’s a saying. “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you deal with it” While I’d rather not have MS, for me, in many ways it has been a blessing.

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