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Disability Action Center NW

Are You Becoming More Dependent on Your Wheelchair or Are You Becoming More Independent?

Written by sashasmithy

The air is heavy with a fearful anticipation. A doctor, most likely an older male, sits in a blue fold-out chair. He leans forward with a look on his face. He focuses his eyes on your two still legs. He asks leading questions about how far you can walk. You end up saying that you can walk further than you actually can. You make sure to remind him of the pain and the very many breaks needed.

“But you can walk a block, right?” he asks.

“I think so,” you say. He doesn’t try to figure if you mean that you can walk a block unassisted. It does not matter to him. What matters is that you walk. Walk.

“I’m afraid if I prescribe you a wheelchair that you’ll become dependent on it.”

There it is. The denial. The fear. Dependency is bad. It’s wrong, it’s unnatural. It’s as dangerous as being dependent on di-hydrogen monoxide.

You’re too shocked to fight. He’s the doctor. You’re the patient. The doctor knows best. And in your mind that squirming fear that you’re just not trying hard enough, that you’re just being lazy, that you’re not really like them, wraps around your brain and steals your confidence.

You keep walking for a few more weeks. Or a month. Or a year. Or for decades. But your walking is not a smooth, confident stride in which you strike your heel to the ground and lift off with your toes. It’s marred with frightful balance and pain issues. Every step is hesitant and carefully placed. Often, your arms do most of your walking, grasping onto canes, crutches, doorways and walls. You can walk. It’s told to you as if it is the most terrific thing on the face of the planet. Walking is better than world peace. It’s better than sunshine and rainbows and leprechauns. It’s better than winning the lottery. It’s far better than being wheelchair-dependent.

A smooth roll through life is improper. Immoral. It’s in the leagues of Satan. To voluntarily choose to use a wheelchair is as bad as going up to Lord Voldechair* and asking to be branded with the Dark Mark. Every day must be a fight to keep one’s soul cleansed. The only solution for a cleansed soul is to walk. Left foot then right foot. Or even right then left. But they must be feet striking the ground. Always.

Eventually, you give into temptation. It has never tasted so sweet. As you collapse your tired body into your chair, perfectly fitted to your body, you breathe a sigh of relief. This is freedom. An unnatural, immoral, and evil freedom. But freedom nonetheless. You offer your arm to Lord Voldechair who burns the Dark Mark onto it, a blackened wheelchair-user symbol. You practically drown your body by drinking sweet di-hydrogen monoxide while you start doing frightful things like grocery shopping on your own or going to the gym or the mall.

You roll through curb cuts, up ramps, and into handicap stalls. Willingly. You ask for wheelchair accessibility wherever you go. You pop wheelies and have impromptu races with your equally immoral friends. You walk less and less. There is less need. You can get around this way. With every day that passes you become more and more wheelchair-dependent. But you don’t care because you’re immoral and evil. You find yourself free. Independent while being dependent.

You have your one-way ticket to Hell. Don’t worry, it’s paved and wheelchair-accessible. Perfect for your wretched soul.

*Any resemblances to JKR’s Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter is purely coincidental. Purely. Absolute truth. Just as this is.