My wheelchair is not here to entertain you

Not for the first time, yesterday someone decided to use my wheelchair as a point of entertainment rather than even stopping to consider what they were doing.

“Go on love, chase that lady’s wheels!”

I don’t even know where to begin with taking this to pieces.

I know what it’s like to be a frustrated mother to a child who is moving so much slower than you want them to be – hell, that’s the summary of about two years of parenting, isn’t it? – but you wouldn’t tell your child to chase after a car. Don’t tell them to chase after my wheels. My electric wheelchair is heavy, and cannot stop on the spot. I won’t mean to, but I will run people over if they stop in front of me.

On top of that if you’re behind me, and suggesting someone comes running along the back or sides of me, it sends me into a panic wondering if it is safe for me to move. Which just makes you selfish. My wheels get me out, they keep me moving, and to take that away from me, even if it’s on a psychological level rather than a practical one, is a hideous thing to do.

Unless you’ve been in an electric wheelchair there is no way you can understand the stress and anxiety side of using it. There are so many advantages of having a wheelchair, and it is a wonderful thing, but there is a huge responsibility in using one as well. You are using heavy, electric, six wheeled, mini car, which is steered, by the way, with a little stick. Trying to dodge people, dog poo, bikes that people are riding on the pavement, children, buggies, obstacles, litter, branches / sticks, dogs, bloody seagulls…. God I could go on. It’s never just as simple as getting in and going for a walk.

Then there’s making me a fascination. By pointing out to your child that I am something they could chase, you are making me odd, different, a spectacle. There’s nothing wrong with children being curious, that’s an entirely different thing. Singling me out from every other person in the area, turning me into a toy… You’re reducing me to my wheels and forgetting I am a human being. You saying this might have just been a silly moment that I doubt you even thought of again. To me it meant laying awake last night, feeling crap about myself, and then feeling worse because the comment had got to me. Because I should have a thicker skin by now, and normally I do. But this one hurt.

I’m not here to entertain you. I’m just trying to live my life.

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