Fun fact: my mom and I both use Quantum power chairs. Everything but the color pretty much matches—she has Raspberry Beret and I have Deep Purple. I admit, I don’t always love when we get comments about it from strangers while we’re riding around, but I happen to think we’re pretty cute together. We look alike, act alike, and roll alike.
My mom and I live under the same roof and believe me, you can tell just by looking at the paint chips on the moldings and scratches in the furniture that there’s two of us bumping into things. Life with two power chair users is always an adventure and occasionally a comedy of errors. We have a tendency to spill things, drop things, knock things down, run things over…you get the picture.
But there’s also a certain art and beauty in the way we navigate together and around each other. Or as we like to call it: “wheelchair ballet.” We’re not exactly graceful, but we find ways to make it work. I wish that non-disabled people recognized the rhythms of movement on wheels, how we problem solve and figure things out and make our wheels work for us.
We use our wheelchairs to enable ourselves to help each other. When I need assistance taking stockings off, I can raise my wheelchair up to iLevel so my mom can reach. When my mom needs assistance putting shoes on, she can raise her wheelchair up to iLevel so I can reach.
In the kitchen, we cause our own little traffic jams trying to move around to get things done, but we always find a way to do things, even though we’re sometimes like a live episode of “I Love Lucy.” One morning, I woke up to the clattering sounds of my mom spilling a giant pot of soup all over the floor. We had to roll around the soupy mess in our wheelchairs, mopping things up with reaching sticks and paper towels. It was quite the sight, but we got the floor clean.
We also have a routine down for getting in and out of my vehicle, an adapted van with a ramp and barely enough room for two big wheelchairs. Once I get in and settle into the driver’s seat, my mom is able to work her magic to finagle the chairs into their spots. It’s funny, people always stand around in parking lots and watch us doing this and ask if we need help. I know they mean well, but we always wonder if people stop to think that we’ve clearly already made it away from our house to the parking lot, so we have it under control.
And that’s just it. Even when we don’t appear to, my mom and I usually have it under control. Using wheelchairs doesn’t mean we can’t handle ourselves. It just means we have to get creative to get things done. Sure, we need help sometimes, just like anyone else. But when it comes to living life on wheels? We’ve got it handled.
About Emily Ladau: Emily is a blogger and serves as the editor in chief of Rooted in Rights. She co-hosts a podcast and has been recognized as an emerging leader in the disability community. Emily lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants. Click here to learn more about Emily.