What type of wheelchair do you use a manual one or a power one? These days I use a power wheelchair, but most of the time that I was in school I used a manual wheelchair. In some ways, I feel like my powerchair improved my independence, in other ways, not so much and at times, I do miss my manual wheelchair. So why am I telling you this?
In fact why even write this post at all? Well…
Living with a disability, you learn quickly that there are many things that are out of your control so having anything that gives me back some of my independence/ control is important to me. Whether it’s my makeup routine or outfit/ style, learning a new skill or a dozen, or using a wheelchair that gives me one hand free to do other things.
I think it’s important to do the things that I can for myself as well as do my best to learn new skills. I’ll probably always need help to some degree, but that’s okay as long as I’m trying new things too. A power wheelchair helps me be as independent as my disability lets me and my powerchair is the right mobility aid for me right now even though it’s not always ideal to take places.
I’m sharing the type of wheelchair that is right for me and what it was like transitioning from a manual wheelchair to a powerchair. This post is for entertainment purposes only.
Now let’s get on with the post, shall we?
In elementary school and part of high school, I used a manual chair, and back then I honestly thought I always would. I liked pushing myself, it gave me a sense of independence and it was a great workout. I had great practice keeping stuff from falling off my lap while pushing myself around and I just liked the chair, it was all I’d ever known.
The New Norm: My Power Wheelchair:
It’s been over a decade since I started using a powerchair, yet I remember the day that it was delivered to my house. When I first started using it, I tested out the speed. I remember thinking how weird it felt as I picked up speed riding around my backyard. I was more aware of things around, though that could have been due to the number of times I bumped into things, (and I have the marks on the garage door to prove it). I practiced with the chair for a while, then it was time to take it to school.
I had to learn how to do everything all over, again transfers, positioning the chair next to tables to, picking things up from the floor to name a few. At one point I seriously wondered if I’d be able to do that last one and if I couldn’t, what would that mean? It may seem like a small thing, but to me, it wasn’t, especially not at the time because I needed help with so many things every bit of independence was important to me. And let’s face it, I was a teenager at the time, everything is a big deal. Eventually, I acclimated to having a different type of chair, but it wasn’t the same thing.
How My Powerchair Improved My Independence
The first thing I did like about using a power chair was that I had one hand free to: keep stuff from falling off my lap, use my phone, and eat snacks. When I got to college having a power chair became a lot more helpful. I think back to all those times when I had talks with my mom about not using a powerchair and I laugh now because I don’t know what I would have done without it.
When I was between assistants, my freshman year of college I was going from class to class on my own and using the chair’s weight to open doors. I know without a doubt I would have gotten tired pushing myself all over that campus, sure it would have been an amazing workout, but it would have just been too much. Family and friends were helping out during my college years to make sure I could attend classes even though I didn’t have an assistant, but I know it would have been a different story or at the very least more a struggle if I didn’t have my powerchair.
Years later, I’m just accustomed to it at this point, I make sure the battery on my chair is good and I’m good to go. I’ve walked to stores, shopping centers and I’m more willing to try things. I love using my powerchair. It’s been a huge help to me, given me a level of independence I could only dream of all those times I told my mom I wanted to keep using manual wheelchairs. Still, things were different and although I had newfound independence there were downsides having a power wheelchair.
Remember how I said, having a manual chair was a great workout? It’s one of the main reasons, I miss my old wheelchairs, sure I loved to speed around in them, what kid didn’t? I also knew that every time I moved I was exercising and when you’re sitting all day, exercising although necessary, isn’t always easy. I had to find new ways to workout and though I did, I haven’t found anything that compares to pushing myself around all day.
When I first got my power wheelchair, I could only use it at school because my family didn’t have a way to transport it. Now that we do, it’s still not the easiest thing to do because I can’t take it in another family member’s car or on a road trip if my parents aren’t the ones driving. Despite these downsides for me, I still love using my powerchair because of the freedom it gives me. I know that it helped me gain some independence and that this is the right chair for me right now and I also that those who use manual chairs have the chair that is right for them.
We all use the mobility aids that are right for us and our capabilities, never let anyone make you feel bad about using a manual wheelchair over a powerchair and vice versa, or any other mobility aid. Your mobility aid whatever it is helps you to live the best life possible for you, never feel bad for that.