We Are Not All the Same

I would hope after reading that title most of my readers are thinking: well obviously!

Then why is it that 85% of the time I am out and about I get mistaken to be some other person in a wheelchair? Over the years I have been Al’s long lost friend from elementary school; I was also once Nina’s cousin twice removed; let’s not forget the time I was the girl Bob went to college with, the one he saw once in the dining hall, and now he wanted to say “how’ve you been? Where’s your caretaker? Didn’t you have a helper dog?” No I didn’t have a caretaker and though I wish I had a dog, I didn’t have a “helper dog” either.

Let’s just clear up any confusion right now: My wheelchair does not mean I am that other person who is also in a wheelchair. As awesome as my wheelchair is with all its tricks and gizmos, technology has yet to allow for a complete identity transformation; we’re not at the point where once your butt touches the seat – you magically turn into some other person. POOF! VOILA! How cool would it be to be a super-genius like Stephen Hawking for a day? Or maybe experience what crossing the finish line is like for Rick Hoyt? I wish that could happen. And for the millionth time - Artie from Glee is not actually in a wheelchair... y'know like in real life...

Since beginning this blog I have met (in person!) five others with O.I. Four of them have the same type as me and also use wheelchairs, and of those four – three are young women all around the same age. We get mixed up all the time! None of us have the same skin color, we have different color hair, and our wheelchairs are fairly different as well. We attended an event recently and within that three hour time period I must have been mistaken for C, D, or K at least once.

The experience is fairly amusing for me as a ‘newbie’ in the O.I. world. For just about all of my life I was the only person with O.I., and now I am being mistaken for three others! I honestly didn’t think that day would ever come.
But all chuckles aside – the point of this entry is to remind all of us that the wheelchair is not an identity marker. It’s not an accessory that we put on to show allegiance with a group – like athletes don team jerseys. Our wheelchairs are mobility devices, and it’s the person that makes the wheels go round. 

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