My Favorite Part of the Day...

...Is when I'm not in my wheelchair.

Even though during the day I rarely take conscious note of my chair, it is still something that appears as the tiniest blip on my radar even on my best days. The attention drawn to my chair by others is always there during the day when I'm going about my business. On a usual day I've grown to be able to keep that attention faded to the background; unless someone comes up to me and starts a conversation about it or why I'm in it - the stares and points (on a good day) pretty much are a non-issue and remain as standard as traffic lights that dot the scene of my day-to-day environment. The light changes color and I move along: nothing fascinates me about this interaction, and it's something that I just expect to happen.  We all know it will happen.
But like I said, even on my best days, even on days when the fact that I sit in a wheelchair is something in the background - it is still there in my mind. I can't avoid it and it's not something I have the desire to avoid either, that route just seems pointless anyway I look at it.

Still though, it can be tiring. It's tiring to wait for someone to come help me get un-stuck from a snow bank because the curb cut is not plowed. It's tiring when I sit in this one position all day. It's tiring when finally I think I have a minute to myself when a gaggle of kids on a field trip are all gawking. It's tiring when someone thinks they're being so original with their car-related comment i.e. "you'll get a speeding ticket!" "Has that passed inspection yet, where's your sticker?" "Don't drink and drive!" "Do you have a license for that?" It's tiring to hear about how Sally's grandmother has the same chair as me. All of those things are tiring to deal with which is why usually I don't. My eyes typically glaze over and I nod, and I smile but really I am doing anything but paying attention. I don't really allow myself to think about how annoying the chair is, because I know that it's not the chair's fault. But there is a part of my thinking that says there are too many irritants out there to 'deal with' one by one - and the chair is just one thing... and if only I could change that. But I can't.
The most that I have figured out to do is learning how to not let those irritants get the best of me. I relegate them to the background noise of my day, sometimes with significant effort and other times with as little as a shrug and a smile.

The best that I can explain being out of my wheelchair as being my favorite part of the day... would be to compare it to when I take out my hearing-aids at the end of the day. Some of you might be hearing-aid users and others not so I'll do my best to explain:
Hearing-aids serve to amplify the sounds in your environment. Depending on settings and personal hearing-loss they might be amplifying higher pitches or the tones that might be lower. There are hearing-aids that focus on individual voices, those that can block out the background noise of a heater or a classroom fan - but still, these noises are amplified to the wearer.
For me when I first take out my hearing-aids there is this immediate vacuum of silence that rushes into my ear canals. And it is the most relaxing noise for me, even more so than the sleep machine app on my ipad that makes waterfall sounds. That shush of every sound in my environment creates a stillness to the end of my day that I appreciate (particularly after stressful and busy days!)
What I'm experiencing when I take out my hearing-aids for those few seconds or minutes is an adjustment period. My ears have just been pummeled with amplified sounds for 9-12 hours of the day and suddenly everything seems muted, it is bliss I tell you! Then my ears will adjust and I will begin to hear my environment again at my usual hearing-loss-level decibels.

But that is what being in my wheelchair during the day is like, and then being out of my wheelchair at the end of the day. During the day my wheelchair amplifies itself to my environment, making it and my differences known to those who have the urge to take note of it however they choose. At the end of the day, when I am out of my wheelchair again, there is a certain silence to the attention it brings - it is in the absence of it. 

And even though I might be a constant go-go-go and on-to-the-next-thing type of person, even I will admit that I need a break from the commotion every now and then. Silence is golden. 

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One Response to My Favorite Part of the Day...

  1. I feel you there, Sandy.

    My favorite part of the school day is coming home. I have homework to do, sure, but I get to be out of my chair! For 2 hours!!! I feel so bad for those who have to sit ALL. DAY. I don't have the strength to position change much, ad my chair only tilts in space. The seat is also AWFUL for my scoliosis.

    So, wheelchair free time is AWESOME.


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