Image description: A wall full of wheelchairs and walkers in a warehouse.
I rolled into a huge warehouse where there were wheelchairs and walkers and scooters, not only that there were tub chairs and toilet adaptions and crutches.
Most of what I saw was in bits and pieces, with people studiously putting them together or carefully taking them apart.
In amongst all that sat my wheelchair. The back and seat were off but I recognized it right away and a kind of funny thing happened in my heart.
Years ago when we moved we had to put Fred and Eric, our dogs, into the kennel for a few weeks. It was a difficult thing to do but we had no other option.
When we went to get them, and they spotted us and yelped while running pell mell to greet us, I felt the same kind of thing. An enormous, overwhelming attachment and a sense of pure gladness at seeing it.
I know that many will not understand, but for me, my attachment to my power chair is a real thing.
I love that chair, I love the memories attached to it, I love what it has done for me over the past seven years.
We went over to the chair and met with the fellow working on it.
I had fears about this meeting and how it would go and those fears turned out, in this case, to be baseless.
He was a kind and gentle man who treated me with nothing but respect.
When I was on the chair, he watched the chair, asked questions about the chair and seemed to understand that I would ‘feel’ things in the chair that he would not.
I knew how it worked at it’s peak and could compare to how it’s working now. His questions were respectful and probing and showed a keen interest to understand my concerns exactly.
During our conversation we were talking about travelling in my power chair and Joe piped up to clarify, “We never take it on an aeroplane.”
The repair guy laughed and said that he knew all about travel in a wheelchair because his wife, of many years, has been a life long wheelchair user and he and she have their own travel horror stories to tell.
I am not saying that you have to have a disability or be intimately aware of disability to be a good service provider, but I think, maybe, it may help. His interactions with me were completely natural, not like they were as a result of some standardized training in speaking with or working with someone with a disability.
I see this same thing in staff who work with people with intellectual disabilities, I see the difference from when they come out of school, full of ideas and ideals, and then run smack dab into the messiness of the lives of people with disabilities.
Shock and surprise that, like everyone else, people with disabilities live lives of both chaos and contradiction.
Then later, if they have allowed themselves to listen and to learn and to grow, they become very different people and provide very different service.
There are some big problems with the chair.
I’m going to be dealing with this for a long while yet.
But fear not, especially those who have written to tell me that I’m writing too much about my chair, I won’t be making this a part of my regular blogging unless there is a story that I want to tell or an incident that I want, for myself, to record.