Pretty much hits the nail on the head don’t you think? 😉
What I’m really thinking: the man in a wheelchair
I’m a wheelchair user. I’m not wheelchair-bound, or confined to my wheelchair. My disability has not made me courageous or admirable, or deserving of a pat on the head just because you can reach it. I hate having my head patted.
I have total feeling in all limbs, so when you said, “You probably didn’t feel that”, rather than apologising for kicking me, you were wrong. I don’t have strong shoulders from pushing a wheelchair: my shoulders are prematurely weakening for that very reason.
Waiting at bus stops, I’m a captive audience for those who incorrectly assume my experience with the healthcare system created an interest in your last doctor’s appointment, or your cousin’s bowel movements, or what happened to the lady who lives down your street.
If given the opportunity, I’m really good at putting people at their ease. My integration into this able-bodied world depends on it. I can’t get by without the assistance of others, but it works best for everyone if I can guide when and how it is offered. If you’re not sure whether to offer to help, just ask, and don’t be offended if the answer’s no.
If I make you feel uncomfortable, realise that you would cope living as I do. It beats the alternative. Please do not pass on your discomfort to children by punishing them for staring, or wanting to touch and explore my wheelchair.
I’m sorry if I don’t remember your name or the occasion we met – there are more ambulant adults in my life than wheelchair users in yours. And the answers to the questions are: I wipe my own arse; and yes I can, and do, as often as opportunity allows.