When I was at Camp Bluebird last week, a sweet old lady asked me what was wrong with my legs. I answered her question as quickly and to the point as possible, but I was really uncomfortable with the question and her response to what I told her.
Most people who see me in the wheelchair make assumptions about me. They assume that I have no ability to walk or move–otherwise why would I be in the chair? Well, I can walk. I do at home, but when I leave the house, my wheelchair gives me a sense of freedom that I don’t have on my feet anymore. I guess in some ways that’s something to feel sad and sorry about, but I really don’t feel that way. I feel sorry that sometimes other people have to help me when I’m in the wheelchair, but I know that if I wasn’t using it, I’d need a lot more help than I do now.
People would see me falling because of how easily I lose my balance. I couldn’t keep up with others when I was out because of fatigue. I don’t worry about that anymore. I get tired, yes, but it’s much easier to rely on the upper half of my body to get me around than the lower part of it. I can go places and do things that I couldn’t do if I was walking with my foot deformity with or without any kind of walking aid.
You’re probably wondering why I posted the TED talk when I’m not talking about deep sea diving or even power wheelchairs. I posted it because when I see it I’m reminded of how much more freedom we have than people realize. I’m reminded of all I can do, even though I often think about how much I’ve lost. Maybe one day I’ll get to go deep sea diving in a power wheelchair. Maybe I’ll get to do things I haven’t even thought of tonight. It all depends on how creative I am in finding ways to make it happen.
Let’s dream of wheeling freedom together.