I was talking to someone a while ago online so they could not see me. It was an old friend who I had not talked to in a number of years. We were talking about how last they heard anything about me, I was about to die. They explained that they were distressed by the news, and they wished they had been able to make it out to show their support to my family when the worst came to pass. They had not kept up with anyone, or looked on social media to see how I was doing. They then notified me that they were going to be in town and asked if they could come by to see me.
Not maliciously, I agreed and they made plans to come by. I was very excited: this was a friend I had not seen since high school. We were never that close, but the exchanges we had were pleasant when they happened. We had gone for coffee about a decade ago, run into each other at concerts, and we worked in close proximity. We never had many mutual friends, and our circles of connections were never close.
When they came to the door, I opened it. Imidiately, they broke down into tears and started murmering “I’m so sorry” between sobs.
I cannot say I was offended. I really did not pay much head until they gestured towards the wheelchair.
“I can’t believe this. You used to stand so proud.”
I was more taken back than offended. The implication that I was not at all the person I was before the wheelchair hurt. The judgement was made before they got to see what I had been doing: before they said more than ten words to me, and before I could even respond. The idea that the chair was a status instead of what it was: an aid.
Wheelchairs are NOT to be a reflection of who you are talking to. Yes, life is more dificult in some ways. Yes, I am in the chair because I cannot walk on my own. No, it is not dictating parts of my life.
To assume that my everything revolves around the chair is rather shallow. It shows a level of disregard for me the person, and a fixation on me the object. I cheated death twice, not being able to walk is only a minor repercussion.
Yes, being in a wheelchair does suck, in some ways. However, it is how I function and get around now. I will not say that it is preferred, but I refuse to bend to it being the worst outcome for any situation. I got out of my brain swelling with only minor brain damage that effected mostly superficial parts of me. I know it sounds bad, but I consider that a win.
No, I cannot work right now, and it sucks. So I write non-fiction to busy myself. To express creative endeavours, I write fiction. I am trying to get published because I know that, with proper support, I can do that. I am not even eluding to accessibility support, I am just terrible at marketing.
Tangent aside, if someone in your life finds themselves in a wheelchair, find out how they feel about it before jumping to condolences and depression. They might be in a good place, or even the best place they have been in for a while.