I have been putting a lot of thought into what exactly helped me become (somewhat) adapt at using my chair. I still vividly remember the first few solo voyages being one of the most terrifying experiences in my life. The feeling of a complete loss of control is not a feeling you forget easily.
I hate to be that guy, but using a chair is definitely just that 2-syllable word that has fucked up many across generations: PRACTICE. I went from using an electric chair to a manual one, and that transition was, for lack of a huge backstory, easy. The power one obviously used less effort and was great when I was quadriplegic, but the manual chair is just so… so… Well, the power chair weighed 175KG and my current chair, while it does not fold, weighs 25. I guess the word I was trying to avoid is CONVENIENT. That word paints such a distorted image, so please allow me a moment to explain.
A power chair is great if you need it. If you have no use of your upper body, or are primarily on your own, they make navigating the world effortless. Learning from a power wheelchair was also handy, for me, anyway, because it allowed my body to get used to a different type of movement.
A wheelchair is very different to a car. A car you know that you are moving, but if it was not for the windows, your moving at such a high pace that everything seems gradual. Almost as if it is motion you are meant to be going at. The driver is (hopefully) always in control and, yes it would be a bad idea, you can bail out whenever you feel like it. Riding a bike is similar to a car from the standpoint that it is intentional, yet chosen.
A better comparison for a chair is a skateboard. You can control the movement, speed, and trajectory. However, it is a lot of fuckin’ work, things can mess with the flow you have going very easily.
Take going down that hill in your hometown: smooth in a car or on a bike, but it would not be great if you were on a skate or longboard. If you hit the crack the wrong way, you hit the ground.
Okay… that may have been too extreme of an example. It does work, in a strange way. The attraction to a skate/longboard is the perceived control coupled with immense speed. It does not change the fact that one mistake ends the fun very quickly and causes immense amounts of pain.
The hardest thing to let go of is something that I struggle with to this day. The ability to let go of all control and let someone else move the chair. As mentioned, my Wife and I recently went to Canada’s Wonderland. That place is huge. She had to push me a total of three times, and she had to talk me down from protesting through beads of sweat and clouds of dust a total of ten times: more than she did push.
Now, to make it clear: I am not a man full of pride and arrogance. There is just something innately dehumanizing about the practice of pushing someone who does not need it, and to accept that you need it is similar to admitting defeat.
I have heard people complaining about walking with someone in a chair that it is slow, but one has to remember that for every step you take, I take two. I may not be walking, but I am pushing with both arms. Really, that is truly where the electric wheelchair is fantastic: going out and about. There are also power assist wheels that just give a small boost to the user to make everything easier, but those are bloody expensive.
While doing the limited research I had to do for this piece, I came across the video. Cheesy at times, but very fascinating!
Do you have tips or tricks for using a chair? Please, pass them along! Leave a note in the comments!
I have the next two months worth of stories written. The Patreon’s who have set up payment of $3 a month get a PDF copy as of yesterday. Check your e-mail. If you have not received your copy and you were supposed to, let me know
No Amazon stuff this week. Instead, check out this live stream of really chill beats I found.