When my power wheelchair last broke down, which it has again, I was visited by an assessor kind of person who has to sign off on my need for a new wheelchair. Foolishly, when my chair was repaired, I rescinded the request and now will have to go through it again and, of course, pay for it again. But when she was there, and when she learned that I was a wall walker, she asked if I had thought about using a walker, she thought that I’d be safer that way. I told her that I didn’t think I needed one at this point and we moved on to the rest of her evaluation.

So, we spent the weekend between gigs here in Minneapolis in a hotel that has a small gym. I noticed someone using the treadmill and holding on to it as if it were a giant walker. I got an idea. I told Joe that I would like to try using the treadmill as long as he was there with me, as long as I could step up on it, as long as it didn’t go fast and as long as I could grab on to something sturdy that would keep me from falling over. Joe looked a bit fearful at the idea, having been there for a couple of nasty falls in the past, but agreed.

We set out.

The room was empty and I rolled my chair right up beside the walker. I got out and stepped up on it and then we had to figure out the controls. I got off the treadmill and back in the chair as we tried to suss out what all the buttons were for, I didn’t want to go flying off and I admit that I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Finally we understood how to work it and I got on again.

With great fear we started it up and it went really slowly, just perfect for me. It was sturdily built and I was able to lean down on it hard, holding myself in position as my feet moved below me. It wasn’t comfortable and my arms tired more quickly than my legs did, and I have strong arms. But I managed seven whole minutes. Over the weekend I got that up to ten minutes at a slightly quicker pace.

Getting back in my wheelchair felt like the most welcoming thing. I felt stable and in control and the fear of falling was, of course, gone.

I know that the idea of me on a treadmill is comic to some and, oddly, a betrayal to others, but it was just me trying something new, trying something I didn’t think I could do. Do I imagine myself one day running on a treadmill? No, of course not, I’m good with that not being in the cards. Do I imagine using it again? Yeah, I do. Why not? I’m a wall walker, I’m simply using an electronic walker.

See the things you get up to when away from home for a weekend. I would never have predicted this, and, my friends, that’s what made it fun.