What do you when the plans you have completely fall apart? The answer to this question has many variables, too many for me to name. In my case, I asked this question, on a cold day in October when my method of easily getting in and out of my house with my power wheelchair, just stopped working. It was the first time in a while, the problem couldn’t simply be fixed with a few phone calls or determination. No, I was left in a maelstrom of emotions truly reminded of the reality of living with a physical disability. This is my story. The time my wheelchair lift stopped working.
It was a cool October day, but I was ready. I had spent the past weeks looking at different styles on Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, and wherever else I thought I might find outfit inspiration. I was ready to start hunting for new pieces for my closet, to give my closet a much-needed update. I was dressed, shopping list in hand and the bus pulled up out front. I opened the door, maneuvered onto the lift, got settled, but the lift didn’t move.
It took a second sometimes, so I wasn’t worried. I waited a few seconds and tried again. I repeated the process again and again. Nothing. Not even an inch. Each time I tried and failed to get the lift moving, I got a little more concerned. Still, I thought it would work. After another few minutes, I knew the bus wouldn’t wait much longer so I asked my dad to go explain the issue to the driver then come help. He did, but unfortunately, he couldn’t get the lift moving either at least not before the driver would have to leave. He went to talk to the driver a second time, to tell him to leave without me and with that, my fun day of shopping turned into something much less pleasant.
With the driver gone and a considerable problem at hand, he ushered me inside and called the lift company. They talked him through a few troubleshooting issues hoping for it to work. See, my dad figured he get working and get me to the mall so I could still shop a bit then take the bus home. It was aa great plan, but everything he tried with the manufacturer’s instructed failed.
It was at this moment that it truly began to sink in that there was a problem. The shopping list was forgotten, I took off my boots and my coat and climbed out of my chair. My dad placed a call to the company that installed the lift, but when they called me back they said they couldn’t help. We were on our own.
After the initial moments or hours, to be honest, my thoughts jumped to what if. What if it takes weeks to get this fixed? What if this? And what if that? Truthfully, I could only focus on the first one and wonder. I got creative and found spots to take photos for Instagram, I was smiling when that was the last thing I felt like doing, but stuff happens and I was going to have to figure it out.
I called a family member, just because we keep touch and told her about the lift. I asked for recommendations on Facebook, I would have asked friends, but they either had accessible entrances with ramps or didn’t need them so they couldn’t help. My family member called a family friend, but we’d have to wait a few days for him to come to take a look at it. My first thought was progress, yay. I could do a week.
I filled the time with working on this blog, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, friends visiting me and more. It was strange, now that couldn’t go out, that’s all I wanted to do. Some of the people around me understood my restlessness others didn’t I guess all I can say is there is a difference between staying in because you want to and because you have to. And all I could see in my mind was that first what if.
Thankfully, that family friend came to look at my lift and was able to fix it. I still smile when I hear the lift moving now, signifying, I’m free to come and go. I’m happy that this didn’t take an extended period of time to fix simply because I honestly don’t know what I would have done if it had. That being said, I’m sure they’re other people in this situation who weren’t as lucky to get something like that fixed so quickly.
All these months later and I still don’t know if I can put into words all feelings I felt when I hung up with that company. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to. I can say that I felt trapped, I didn’t know how long this was going to last, that is was about so much more than a wheelchair, it’s my way of getting around, my freedom. My way of simply living, just like any other girl in her 20’s. I might be able to leave my house, but I wouldn’t have my chair.
I wrote this post to share a bit of the reality that goes into living with a physical disability and bring awareness to some of the struggles. I’ve lived long enough to have a few more just like it, some quick fixes, and others more similar to this one. A sad thing to say with a few years left in my 20’s, but a fact of life all the same.
Expect the unexpected, I forget who told me that the first time and it is something I’ve realized comes along with living with a disability physical or not. It was hard, no question, but I found ways to pass the time and have fun regardless. I was worried, yes, but I continued to find things that made me happy. Whether it was one of the things I did to pass the time or something that just reminded me of all the crazy, fun things that happened in my life, I was finding a reason to be happy, even if just for that one thing.
I hope this story inspires you to keep going even when things aren’t going your way. It’s okay to pause, to take in the moment, say “what if?” It’s okay to feel whatever it is you feel, but keep going anyway. There were times during this ordeal that I felt alone because I was the only one truly affected, but I learned that I wasn’t. I had friends and family, each supporting me in their own way. There is so much to be done for disability awareness in a multitude of industries, but I hope someday that changes.