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Welcome to the land of ass: the world from a wheelchair

November 28, 2011

Might as well report my first day out and about in the chair eh? There will be a lot of discussion about ass. My ass, your ass, everyones asses!

Ok, wow….ya, it’s amazing how fast skin breaks down. You don’t really think about how much your butt sweats if you’re sitting down all day (see? I warned you about the butt thing), and you don’t normally think about things like a wrinkle in your pants or if the part of your backside that you have the most pressure on is on an underwear line or not. It’s really silly because I knew about these things already, I’ve heard it from other people and I’ve taken care of people in wheelchairs before. But when it comes to me, it’s just not part of my normal life yet so I guess I just didn’t think of it. I didn’t use any baby powder but I will from now on. Powder those bums, people! Keep your derriere dry! Seriously though, it went from uncomfortable to painful surprisingly quickly. Going to be spending a good chunk of time laying on my side after a bubble bath because of it. Oh, that reminds me: it totally kills your lower back. My back is killing me. It’s easy to think “oh, sitting down all day, that’d be nice!” No, no it isn’t. It can be quite painful. I shifted around a lot but it didn’t seem to help. No matter which position I was sitting in, the same spot always hurt and felt like I had all my weight on it, even if I didn’t. It’s all red and tender now, going to have to check my skin every day. My back pain would ease up for a bit after shifting, but it always came back with a vengeance really quickly.

Something I didn’t really notice at school, but did when I did some shopping afterwards: you’re ass-to-face level with everyone. Pleasant huh? When you’re with someone and talking, you’re always looking up at them so you don’t really notice (like I didn’t notice at school). But when you’re in a crowd on your own, ugh. Why do teenagers still insist on wearing their pants so low? PULL THEM UP! and take a shower, while you’re at it! You find seeing a *ahem* voluptuous woman in skin tight and too low spandex bend over unpleasant? Next time you see that, bend down so you’re eye to cheek with her. And run at her and try to stop at the last second, just avoiding ramming your face into her tuchis. That’s what it’s like being in a wheelchair and not paying close enough attention to where you’re going. Scary, man, scary *shudder*. Oh and don’t go to fast in stores because people tend not to notice if there is just a head flying by them in the next aisle. Had a few near crashes because I was just wasn’t thinking. Makes sense though I guess….I could see them of course, but they couldn’t see me because I’m just not at the level that people normally check to see if there is another person there, you know?

Oh and those warnings from manufacturers about not putting a heavy bag on the back of the chair? Ya…they mean it. I almost tipped backwards twice because of the weight of my bookbag. Thankfully the 1st time, I had someone there to catch me and help me get over the curb before I rolled off into traffic (and when I say curb, I mean area of curb where it’s leveled out into a slope so wheelchairs can get up). Second time, I was trying to get up a *snort* wheelchair ramp into a gazebo. I was completely alone and out in the rain when that one happened. Once I started to tip, I just grabbed the railings on the ramp and let myself slide back down, I gave up trying to get up the ramp on my own (thankfully, my boys are awesome and shoved me up the ramp later in the day so I didn’t have to sit out in the rain on my break). Not quite sure what I’m going to do about that one. I have to carry that heavy bookbag with me. If I put it on my lap, I can’t see over the bag to see my front wheels and footrests so it’s hard to judge if I’m too close to a doorway and whatnot and keep ramming into things. I’ll figure something out.

Now then, elevators! Those bastards. The doors close way too soon. I had an elevator door close on me today as I was halfway into the elevator. I was backing in, so I couldn’t see if the door was starting to close or not. Thankfully I had a friend with me so he grabbed the door and held it open…after he stopped laughing at me 😛 I will not back into elevators anymore after that.

Getting behind a desk is difficult. Each class involved moving desks around so I could fit. I’m stuck sitting at the front of the class now all the time, which kinda sucks in a way I suppose.

It’s not all bad though. Being able to go fast again…I can’t even describe that feeling. To not only be able to keep up with everyone else but even pass them is amazing. I kept blazing down the hallways going “WWWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” cause it was just so much fun. I couldn’t wipe the dumb grin off my face all day. Just that alone is worth all the bad things. I don’t feel like as much of a hindrance anymore. I can go fast, I can carry my own tray on my lap in the caf, I can carry my own bag around all day without it causing pain since it’s on the back of the chair. Being able to go into a shop and not have to limit myself, not having to tell myself “ok I can spend this much time in this shop or I won’t be able to do anything else cause my legs will give up” is wonderful. I’m more dependent on others in some ways (ex: being pushed up the ramp or through certain doorways, having someone take the chair in and out of the car and bring it to the door for me) but I feel so much more independent in other ways. It’s kind of freeing in an odd way. I had a few odd moments today, usually at the end of class, where I’d think of just going to stand up and leave the room, then looked down, saw the wheels and remembered, and that was kind of odd and just a weird kind of sinking feeling. But, the sheer joy that I get from going as fast as I can push myself all around the school is just amazing. I love it.

I gotta admit though, I definitely overdid it a few times. I kept going so fast that sometimes my arms just felt totally dead for a while. But, unlike with my legs, if my arms are dead, I can still keep going. Just give the wheels a little push and let myself roll. It’s a really good workout for the shoulders though (I expected to feel it more in my forearms or biceps). I was definitely more energetic all day though. The change in my energy level is just night and day. I knew there would be a difference, but I didn’t expect it to be this drastic and I’m really happy about it.

So, lessons for today for those considering the option of a wheelchair:

1) Powder your arse.

2) Slow down near corners.

3) Pace yourself. It’s fun to go fast but it burns your arms out really fast.

4) Make sure you have good upper body strength. If you don’t before the chair, you will after.

5) Look directly ahead often. Don’t wanna crash into someone’s butt.

6) Buy a really comfy cushion with a removable cover so you can take it off and wash the butt-sweat off it.

7) Keep some hand sanitizer with you all the time, just in case you can’t get to a sink. Your hands will get very, very dirty.

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