Managing Pain with My Wheelchair

As someone who was born with my physical disability, I have grown to be very proud of who I am. I identify as a disabled woman and I consider my disability as a key part of how I define myself. Because of this, I know for sure that if the opportunity to “cure” my disability was offered to me, I wouldn’t accept it. (I know this isn’t a view everyone shares, so I speak only for myself.) That said, there are definitely days when I wish I could cure the chronic pain that I experience as part of my disability.

I never know what kind of pain I might be in when I wake up or what kind of pain might pop up unexpectedly during the day. My body tends to be on a pain rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs. Never a dull moment when you live in a disabled body! And while I can’t necessarily always get rid of the pain (because it definitely has a mind of its own), I have found some helpful ways to cope or relieve it while still sitting in my electric wheelchair.

I’m a big fan of the TRU-Balance® 3 power tilt and power recline and the center mount articulating foot platform features that I have on my Quantum power wheelchair. I used to worry that people might judge me if I was out and about and reclined myself to relieve some of the pressure on the lower part of my body. I’ve since come to the realization that it’s more important for me to take care of myself than to worry about what other people might think of how I look. And of course, now that I’m spending much more time at home during the pandemic, I find myself adjusting my chair to different positions all the time to keep my body comfortable. I’m grateful to have a power wheelchair that adjusts in ways that are right for my body

Even if you’re not able to adjust the angle of your wheelchair, I highly recommend shifting your weight however you can, whenever you can—or ensuring you have assistance to move around. Even the slightest movements have helped ease pressure points and sources of pain.

I’ve also started taking more breaks from working or focusing on whatever task is at hand so I can breathe, stretch, and shake it out. I find that I get very tense during the day as I lean over my computer, so a few moments of calming deep breaths is a really good way to clear my head and lessen whatever pain I might be experiencing at the moment. I can’t say I’m great at meditating, since my mind tends to wander, but I absolutely think that closing my eyes and taking a few breaths can make a difference.

Chronic pain isn’t fun, to say the least, but I try to use the tools I have available—both external, like my Quantum electric wheelchair, and internal, like moments of meditation—to ease it.

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.