Tagged with: awareness disability family life wheelchair
I knew when I signed up for this, life would be different. I was prepared for certain aspects of my marriage to look different from everyone else’s. For example, I knew I would always be the one to take out the trash and hang the pictures on the wall, but those things come with some pretty nice trade offs like him being the one to always do the cooking and cleaning. Those things I was ready for and more than willing to trade in, but as the years have gone by I have come to realize there are so many more things I didn’t expect both good and bad things, fun and not so fun. But this is our story, the one we both know we were intended to live, and if ever the bad starts to overshadow the good or the not so fun becomes really not fun at all, even though I may have my moments of weakness or times when my “ugly” shines through, I will never want pity or feel sorry for myself, as I feel some folks are quick to dish out, because I know that whatever “fun” thing I think I am missing out on I know my husband has had to miss out on 100 more. And while I chose this life and this marriage he didn’t choose to have a spinal cord injury. So I just get over it and remember that life is good and regardless of circumstances I am truly blessed.
But first things first; no matter who we talk to or what group we are in the first thing everyone wants to know is “what happened” or “why is he in a wheelchair” or at least that is what they are thinking. But adults tend to shy away from the question as if it is offensive somehow but kids on the other hand, kids I love, they have no shame. They stare and they touch and ask all kinds of questions even if we have never met them. But back to the question at hand, “what happened?” – one morning on his way to work, about 7 years ago, he took a turn on his motorcycle that he didn’t pull out of. He never lost consciousness, in fact he knew he was lying in the street and he was trying to move off to the side. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital where he later found out he had an L1 spinal cord injury. He did some rehab and that was that. From then on he would forever view life sitting down. A few years later we got married. We live in an old house that needs more repairs than we can count. We have started the repairs doing them mostly ourselves which works out pretty well until I realize that the one who actually knows what they’re doing in this duo has a max wing height of about 5 feet. But this is life and we love it! We live there with our 2 year old pit bull and that makes up our family, at least for now.
So now that you know the basics on us, let’s get to some of those things I wasn’t prepared for like the good and the bad and the fun and the not so fun. As I start this journey of blogging I think one of the most entertaining “unexpecteds” has come from our journeys. We love to travel, in fact, in our few short years of marriage we have been to 4 countries and 22 states. There are definitely some fun and not so fun things when you travel with a chair. A definite perk is flying! Regardless of the airline or how late we get to the airport we always are the first to board and moved to the front of the plane. In fact, on the last flight we took, on one of those airlines where you pay for everything including picking your seat, we didn’t pay for any extras and ended up sitting in first class. Definite perk. Best nap I have ever taken on a plane. Another perk that comes from flying with a chair is that we don’t have to wait in all those security lines. We typically get escorted right on through. For instance on that same flight I just mentioned, we had our own personal escort from the moment we checked in at the desk until he dropped us off at the gate. Even in the largest airports it’s like they just opened a new checkout line at Wal-Mart with no lines and no waiting and we scoot right on through.
On the other side of that is the not so fun, which I chalk up to ignorance. Last summer we were visiting Chattanooga, TN. with the family. We decided to take a sightseeing ferry boat ride of the city. So as always I call ahead and go through the routine questions; do you have accessible seating, bathrooms, etc. I get the OK and we purchase tickets. When we went to pick up the tickets we again reminded the lady at the booth that they were for accessible seating. Once again we were assured that would be no problem. As we went to board the boat my husband and I were lagging slightly behind as my brother was already boarding. The man looks at his ticket and says, “3rd floor stairs are to the right”. My brother (also now well trained in “disability travel”) says, “Do you have an elevator? We have accessible seating.” The man replies, “We don’t have an elevator”, (and here’s the kicker) “can’t he just take a few steps?” WHAT? No he can’t just take a few steps, that is why we asked for accessible seating! We ended up having to grab chairs from another level and sit on the back deck where the kitchen staff stored its garbage and dirty dishes! Needless to say I was not a happy camper and once again awe-struck at the ignorance of others. But to this day our friends and family still like to ask my husband if he can just “take a few steps”!
Accessibility is always an issue when you travel especially the more remote the city or foreign the country. I could fill pages sharing stories of our travels from our honeymoon in Jamaica to a mission trip in South Africa and maybe one day I will, but I will leave you this time with our favorite accessible travel location of all: the Adapted Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado (http://www.adaptivesports.org/ ). I actually got to intern there while I was in grad school and I fell in love with the city and the organization though I was more than ready to leave before winter rolled in! The ASC basically adapts every type of outdoor activity for anyone. They work somewhat like a travel agency where you can call them up, tell them all the activities you want to do and they put everything together for you, including lunch. A couple summers ago I went back, this time bringing my husband and we went downhill mountain biking. We had a blast. For once my husband and I could enjoy an outdoor activity on an even playing field. Well actually he smoked me. I was slightly intimidated by the speed and mountain cliffs. My husband on the other hand couldn’t go fast enough. It was great and I recommend it to any and all.
So that is just a bit of our journeys. I invite you to join us as we explore the endless possibilities out there of being Married to a Chair.