Over 3 years ago, a time that feels like a different lifetime, a different world away, I wrote a post somewhere on the internet that always stuck with me. When I started writing this blog post, it was because twitter was informing me that it was national walking day, which a number of awesome people were changing to national wheeling day.
I found the short piece that I had wrote and started thinking about that time. I wrote this when I was struggling to get around in my walker, when I still walked places unassisted for short distances. When my body had taken too much and if I wasn’t at work or school, I was in bed. It became so bad that I sometimes was skipping basic necessities, like food for instance, because the kitchen was not in my bed. It was easier to collapse at the end of the day and wake up at the start of a new one than find energy I didn’t have for tasks that seemed impossible.
I moved out to an apartment I shared with a friend that was significantly less spread out, where I didn’t have to worry about stairs.
I hadn’t yet discovered the freedom of wheelchair sports, of how distinct tired is from fatigue when you push yourself to the limit, feel like your arms are going to fall off,
And even though you sink into bed so exhausted you can barely make the transfer, even though you wake up hurting and exhausted,
You have a bigger smile on your face than you’ve had for in a long time.
Because somehow you know you just need a warm shower and a nap and ok maybe a day of recovery,
but you can do that again.
That’s a world away from the mind-numbing fatigue that exhausts you to the core, when you can even eat because there’s no energy, where you could sleep for years and it would make no difference.
In November of 2013 I had no idea that my body could ever be capable of the things it has done because I hadn’t been given the right tools, the right instructions.
I have traveled nationally and internationally, played for my province at the wheelchair rugby national championships twice. I even wheeled a 3k.
What I wish I knew then, at what I will constantly tell everyone now, is that walking “a little” is not the same as “walking”.
what I mean by this is that being able to walk a little, being able to walk with consequences, that’s not the same as being able to walk (the end)
When people are denied wheelchairs because they can walk, an important thing is missed.
They can’t walk
yes, they can physically walk. That’s not what I mean.
What I mean is,
Can they walk to the store and back? Can they do so safely? Can they do so and still have energy left for the day? For the week?
Can they walk at home? yes? Ok, but does doing so leave them with enough energy to leave? To go to school, work, out with friends, on errands? Is it safe?
Can they walk long enough to go places, enjoy things, to do what they could do if they had mobility aids?
Yes, being able to walk, even a little, is different than not being able to walk at all.
But it’s not the same as being able to walk, without consequences, without fear of safety, for “long distances”
So when you deny someone mobility aids because they can still walk, because you want them to still walk, you’re missing something.
If they’re asking for mobility aids, their mobility is already limited. They’re already not walking as often because they can’t. Mobility aids won’t change that. But they can actually improve mobility, and allow for more opportunities to go out and be active.
Also check out this cool thing I found while being distracted on the internet the other day.