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sitting down on the job

Posted Jun 10 2009 6:43pm

just for fun, i brought my wheelchair to work last week. i wanted to find out a few things: how i would feel wheeling around the office instead of walking, how my co-workers would react, and how it would affect my day, both during work and after work.

first of all, this chair is obviously not designed for spending the day in. it quickly became uncomfotable, and i had to use my regular (none too fancy) desk chair, only using the wheelie for trips around the office. for that use, it was pretty good. again, this is not a fancy chair – made mostly for bringing mrs. smith down the hall for her x-ray. it doesn’t drive so good over carpet, and i found that it took just as much energy to wheel myself as it did to walk. it was just a different set of muscles that got achey and tired. but i didn’t have to worry about falling, which was nice.

co-workers for the most part did not react. that was a little weird, and kind of nice. a few people asked if i had injured myself, or if i was not feeling well, most people said nothing. i jut told them i was trying out to see how it felt. the guy who does most of the office maintenance asked if there was anything that needed to be done to make the place accessible, which i appreciated. in the end, there was only one doorway that was tricky to get through. and no one asked for a ride.

i was glad for their reaction. i really didn’t want a lot of concerned looks and a lot of questions. i just wanted them to see he same me, just at a different height. for me myself, it was very strange to realize that this was my future. i have always been sure that i’d end up in a chair, and i’ve always hated using it – feeling like a cripple. and while i am not bound to it yet, it was useful to give myself a taste of what it is like. not so easy pushing through the bathroom door, or getting at the time clock, things i had taken for granted.

in the end, it was good to know that i could do this, that people wouldn’t look at me funny or treat me any differently. at least not to my face. and now i know that when the time comes when i move into in the chair because i have to be, not because i want to be, it won’t be so hard a transition.

this week i’m trying something different. as a means to keep from tripping over patterns in the carpet, i’ve taken to layering the bottom of my draggy shoe with duct tape, so it would slide over the floor, not grip it like it’s no-slip sole is supposed to do. it’s worked pretty well, but i got to thinking – who uses shoes that are designed to slide? it came to me in flash of brilliance – curlers! if you’ve never seen curling, you are missing a great sport. in curling, the players have to have one shoe that will slide, and one that doesn’t. they can get special shoes, or bootie sort of things that slip over their shoe. they have either plastic or teflon or even stainless steel on the bottom. so i bought myself one of those, a slider. it looks really dorky, but works perfectly. my draggy right foot glides effortlessly over the carpet, and i fear no tripping. (there’s even wheelchair curling, which i’m all excited about!)

so even though the thought of going through life disabled is not in the least appealing, it is nice to discover that it can be done without too much trouble – at least the little taste i’ve had.

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