The Chair and I

It’s been a wheely big day! Good friends have come to my home and spent hours helping me build a ramp up to the front door, and I’ve been to a personal ‘wheelchair fitting’ down at our local rehab. That’s an experience!

Back when I wrote A Gift Unwelcome I touched on the question of supremacy: who would dominate in my new relationship with a wheelchair? I’ve since discovered that I can stay on top through the use of a simple physical manouver: I sit on it. Pinned down this way it’s completley under my controll, and causes me little trouble. The chair and I have entered into a cautious friendship. Actually, we’ve started going out together. At this early stage I am determined to keep the relationship purely physical; but I must admit the temptation to take it to an emotional level is ever present.

Our relationship is still conflicted at some points. The combat goes on, but I notice the wheelchair is no longer crouched in the corner, trying to intimidate with its cold, metalic stare. Its new strategy is subtle and more finely tuned: It whispers! I constantly hear it murmur, “Let’s get emotional baby!”

I heard the deceitful whisper on Christmas Eve when we made our first public appearance. We went to church together, and I spoke on the mystery of a Child-King whose humility would change the world. The wheelchair’s whispering enticement to embarrassment and awkward self pity was hard to resist.

I heard the tricky whisper loud and clear when I called on a couple of mates to help me build the ramp. “Whose problem is this anyway?” it taunted. Earlier today we went to Bunnings to buy our materials. Before too long I had to accept my friend’s offer of a push along the vast aisles. I’ve never had to ask for that sort of help from a mate before. Mates lend a hand; good ones will do just about anything for you. But mateship is also about equality, it’s about adventure: fighting against the odds, side by side. Surely it’s not meant to be about being pushed in a wheelchair, where you can’t even see your friend’s face. I wonder if you can hear the whisper?

During a break in today’s ramp building I packed the chair into the car for an appointment with an occupational therapist and a wheelchair supplier at Community Rehab. There I learned that wheelchairs are individually ‘scripted’ from a bewildering aray of options. And the whisperer tempted me to adopt the pose of a victim; to abandon my self; to embrace dissability.

In spite of these minor challenges, what surprises me most of all is how happy I am. I’m wheely happy! The external, whispering voice is gloomy. Relentlessly discourageing, it seems to call for the lowest emotions, for despair and sorrow. But within me there is another voice: a song of joy, hope and strength. During this busy day I had a brief word with a friend who looks at things with unusual depth. He reminded me that it’s a holy thing when friends work together. “More importantly”, he said, “perhaps life is meant to be enjoyed; and perhaps we appreciate it most when we realise that it comes in limited supply”.

In losing a little I have found great depth of life in everything else. I’m wheely grateful for that!


2 Responses to “The Chair and I”

  1. 1 Vic Hatfield January 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Hello Rod ,I should have thought of this before.
    As you know I had a slight stroke [recovering OK] and it stops me riding the Kawasaki KLR650 until I get a clearance , which means it is idle at present. If we removed the front wheel and mounted in on the back of the wheelchair with a few alterations for throttle ,clutch etc , rehab would help !. Your relationship could then be physical or emotional , completely on your terms . Imagine the effect it would have on your OT and other hospital staff as you did a 3 wheel slide thru corners of the corridors and then a mono in the straight sections. It would reduce your travel time at the hospital !. Thanks for your writings – helps us keep things in perspective. Vic.

  2. 2 Milton Scaysbrook March 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Rod
    Just discovered this site of yours . Truly remarkable , I can relate to some of your trials and I truly believe you will see this through.
    I am so blessed to have known you and count you as a very special friend.
    I am so pleased that you still have your remarkable sense of humor.
    God Bless

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