Thursday, 1 March 2012

International Wheelchair Day 2012

A day I've looked forward to for a long time.

Because 'they [wheels] must make things hard for you' is said to me so often and today gives me the chance, along with other wheelies across the world, to help erase this view.

Because I love my wheels. They have opened doors for me that I had thought were closed for ever. They gave me a new lease of life, the ability to be an active member of my community in a way which would be impossible without them.

My wheels dont make things hard, they make things marvellously possible. I can shop, give talks, teach, carry, cook, travel, do book signings, speed shrieking down a hill....and oh so many things.

Try doing the above on legs that forget where they are, knees that dislocate, disappearing coordination and a decreasing level of conciousness. THAT is hard.

I have a seat in the postoffice queue.
I am faster than the other commuters across the station platform.
I have my own personal rollercoaster.

Yes, there are practical issues in a environment designed for walkers - 

Based on page 23 of "You know you've been pushing it when..."
Based on page 15 of "You know you've been pushing it when..."

This doesn't make me hate my wheels. Without them I'd struggle to get to the stairs.

But it does make me want to help people understand the practicalities of life on wheels. So often the solutions are easy - a sign showing that the level access entrance is round the side, a doorbell on a heavy door, a little less stock on the shop floor. And suddenly my freedom expands. Like a champagne fountain. Unexpected, bubbly and leaving everything it touches with a trace of celebration.

So next time you see me wheeling down the street, don't pity the wheels but feel my joy at the freedom that they give.

And if, without fuss, you can make a little part of the world a little bit more accessible to a set of wheels, you will make my year.


  1. I spent a couple of months last year reliant on a wheelchair following a stroke. During that time I never tired of announcing "it's ok I've brought my own chair" on entering the pub and my friends had just laboured over squeezing my chair into the venue. I know...stand up comedy is my true calling ;-)

  2. hannah, i hope that i will feel as positive about my daughter's wheelchair one day and realise the independence that it brings her. i hope that she feels so positive too...

  3. I wish to complain: You didn't use my quote!!

  4. Give me time, Doink, give me time. I need to craft a post that will us it to its greatest effect, not to mention produce a suitable portrait of you!

  5. Nicely put.

    It always amazes me how many people would rather watch me struggle to walk than zip around relatively effortlessly in a wheelchair. While walking isn't a bad thing, it becomes one when your body is no longer willing/able to facilitate it.

    My friends understand that, thankfully, and know that I am extremely limited without my wheelchair. To them, the wheelchair is just as normal as a pair of glasses.

  6. I agree with you 100%. I'm independent - thanks to my wheelchair :)


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