Top 4 Wheelchair Annoyances

1. Seat belts
They are a great thing and I always have mine on unless I'm in a parked position. After too many accidents of falling out, or nearly falling out I have become a paranoid constant seat belt wearer. (The fact that I am always zooming off somewhere means that my seat belt wearing has literally been a life saver.) This also means that I am always looking for where it is! It drops between the wheels and the seat. It becomes tangled in the spokes. It drops in the crevice behind the seat. Somehow it has become wrapped around the metal handlebars. And my hand is always reaching for it in all of the weird spaces, jammed in somewhere that I'm pretty sure the manufacturers never intended for me to cram my fingers into.

2. Jammed fingers
When not in school or at work I use a manual wheelchair. It's easier to get around in places that might not be accessible, and also it collapses easily in friends' cars. Manual wheelchairs are great! And I particularly like when I switch from my power wheelchair to my manual because I feel more.. human in it. I feel less like a robot or a transformer. With that said though there is one gripe I have about a manual chair: because it is something that I push myself in, I frequently have jammed my fingers into the brakes. Usually this is because I haven't fully released the locks yet, or because I'm just not (as usual) paying attention to what I'm doing with myself. But ramming my thumb into the brake mechanism is probably one of my most frequent injuries in a manual wheelchair.

3. When it rains it soaks
People who are not wheelchair users just get their outer-wear wet. They can take off their jackets, their hats, their shoes etc and feel dry within minutes. Wheelchair users however have the joy of sitting in wet cushions, or against the back of the seat as raindrops casually drip down it. Let's not forget the armrests that collect puddles of water, the little pool that is only waiting for my elbow to carelessly rest into. Most of the time I have been lucky to find a bathroom that has automatic hand dryers that I just chill underneath the nozzle for a bit... otherwise it leaves for a very very long day.

4. It's not their arm rest, elbow rest, bag carrier, good-deed-of-the-day etc.
Unless otherwise requested or given permission, none of those things applies to anyone else except for the one in the seat. It has gotten to the point where I have no qualms about moving forward when I know someone is leaning on my chair (and the person didn't ask beforehand.) The other piece of this is that unless requested - do not rush (and assume) the person in the chair needs your help. There are reasons for why wheelchair users are super protective of their mobility devices. Would you want someone rushing to touch your legs and untangle them for you every time you tripped? Probably not. That's a little weird to have random hands all over your limbs. It's the same boundary concept; the faster non-wheelchair users get that line drawn in their minds the less tempting it will be for us to flatten toes at will.

Got others? Leave them in the comments section! 

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2 Responses to Top 4 Wheelchair Annoyances

  1. We ran into the "good deed of the day" when we were traveling last year. Every hotel we went into, the front desk/doorperson staff always wanted to help Mike, even though he can manage on his own or I'm there to help out. They didn't know the best way to hold the chair to navigate a few steps, but they did try on account of that's their job.
    We felt odd turning away their help because they always looked hurt, but it often took much longer if they helped us because there was so much fumbling.
    Sometimes you just can't win!

    1. Ah yeah that's how I feel sometimes when the folks who work public transportation don't know how to operate the wheelchair lift. It's tough for me to not just grab the remote from their hands and show them which buttons to push. *sigh* patience is a virtue indeed!


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