I’m My Best Self In A Wheelchair

I'm My Best Self In A Wheelchair

When I found out I needed a wheelchair, I went through a lot of emotions. Anger. Fear. Confusion, naturally. And, of course, there was that little part of me that felt the need to make a “Riding Dirty” video and put it on YouTube. But no matter how I felt, the truth was that from the moment it was decided, I didn’t have much choice.

Okay, that’s a lie. I didn’t “need” a wheelchair. Need is a strong word. Did I want a wheelchair? Not exactly. But was a wheelchair preferable to actually using the crutches my surgeon provided after I shattered my ankle. Yes. Hell, yes.

The first week post-op, I shifted between crying in bed and dramatically flailing on my crutches, all while making my boyfriend bring anything and everything to my bedside. It was a dark time for all of us. So after a grand total of eight days, he finally said something I’d secretly hoped would be mentioned since I was in the hospital.

“I think we should get a wheelchair.”

I whined and fought back, but secretly I was thrilled. An hour spent on Amazon (and two hydrocodone later), I had a foldable wheelchair complete with leg supports on its way. A little part of me was ashamed. I’d broken bones before and didn’t resort to this, but I defended it by saying that this break was much worse, and I was much lazier now.

Two days later, (God bless you, Prime), we received a giant box, and out of it came my new throne. After a few hours of figuring out the most comfortable positing and how to maneuver around my apartment, I was finally feeling whole again.

In fact, for the first time in my life, I was feeling more “me” than ever before.

I’ve been using the wheelchair for about 10 weeks now, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I feel like I’ve finally become who I was always supposed to be.

I Never Have To Do Anything I Don’t Want To Do
As an introvert who tries to avoid most social activities, breaking my leg and being in a wheelchair is just about the best thing that could have happened to me. Any event or gathering I don’t want to go to can easily be turned down with a simple, “Ugh, I’m not really mobile yet,” and a Snapchat of me sitting in my chair. Could I go to most things? Probably. Do I want to? Hell no. The chair is my “get out of social obligations for free” card, and I never want to have to give that up. Plus, any and all group exercise events are out for me, just in time for hiking season. How lucky am I?!

People Go Out Of Their Way To Help Me
It’s not so much that people are extra nice to me (even though, let’s be real, they absolutely are). Now, people will literally go out of their way to help me. At the store? The manager is over in a heartbeat, helping me find things and getting me free samples. Going in an Uber? Don’t worry, they’ll put the chair away and please, just sit down and relax. Having friends over? I never have to get snacks or refill glasses. Not even in my own house. It’s like having servants anywhere I go.

I Get So Much Attention
While I’m a lazy introvert who doesn’t like doing things, I also have this conflicting need for attention. This lethal combo means I go out when I don’t want to, and I get way too drunk to forget that I don’t want to be there. Now that I have the chair, however, I don’t even have to get wasted or be funny to get attention. Everyone circles around me, bouncers at bars create new paths to enter their venues, and people part the way for me like I’m a 2017 Moses.

Friends Like To Take My Sweet Ride For A Spin
Just like the guy who pulled up with an awesome car on his sixteenth birthday, I’m the girl who now has wheels anywhere she goes. Whenever I move from my wheelchair to a normal chair, people flock to it like hermit crabs looking for a new shell. Boys circle around it, trying to outwheelie each other, and girls hover nearby wanting to take a break from balancing on pencil-thin heels. I literally bring fun anywhere I roll up.

I’m Always Sitting
The best part about this whole gig is simple: I get to sit anywhere I go. As a hugeeee sitting fan since ’92, I hate standing. I hate waiting in lines and expecting my stubby legs to just keep holding me up. I hate when I go somewhere and all the seats are taken, and I have to watch as other people enjoy having a seat. Now? That never happens. Now, anywhere I go, I have the best seat in the house.

I know how insensitive I seem. Crazy, even. I know that if I was in a wheelchair permanently, I probably wouldn’t feel this way. I get it, and I’m sorry. But I also want to point out that some aspects of a wheelchair are pretty damn great. And as I’m faced with the fact that soon, people are going to expect me to walk around on my atrophied leg and give up my rolling throne, I can’t help but feel nostalgic. Having a wheelchair gave me everything I ever wanted. How do you say goodbye to that?

On that note, if anyone is in the market for a wheelchair, I know someone who’s looking to sell hers in about 3.5 weeks. Alcohol stains included.

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Rachel Varina

if it doesn't have snack or seats, i'm not there.

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