Life in a Wheelchair



Life in a Wheelchair – Part One

Life in a Wheelchair

After I was injured I spent some time in a wheelchair; I got to understand some of the restrictions that come with using one of these mobility aids. Some of it was not so much fun but there was the odd moment when it wasn’t so bad. There is always something positive to find from a situation, life in a wheel chair wasn’t all doom and gloom, but I am extremely happy I don’t need to rely on one now. When first given one to use, my wife had to push me about as I couldn’t operate it with one hand-it was a big, heavy cumbersome thing to weld. I had to watch my wife struggle to collapse it whilst I was sat in the front of the car and then she would have lift it and shift it into the boot. Those weren’t fun times at all.

I must admit when becoming a wheelchair user I became a bit of a nightmare. I was like a reformed smoker who now hates all current smokers. And to think that people who spend their life in a wheelchair just seem to get on with it and have to accept their lot.

Below are a few stories and observations that I have acquired over the past few years.

My First Outing In A Wheelchair.

Whilst convalescing in Selly Oak Hospital, which is located in Birmingham, I got my first taste of being in a wheelchair. All of us looked forward to being allowed down the pub for a pint, it was a rite of passage as a patient. It meant a huge amount to us being allowed to The Country Girl public house, it was an indication that we were well enough to leave the ward and venture outside, we were returning to some sort of normality. My wife was pushing me on my wheelchair, I couldn’t move the thing myself as my arm was broken at the elbow. Neither of us really had a clue how to operate one of these things and it became clear that we would need to work it out ourselves when we came across our first real obstacle. One such obstacle was a dropped curb, nothing major some might say, however a challenge for a first time wheelchair driver.  My lovely wife decided that the best way to clear this obstacle was to race at it as fast as possible. We hit the curb and I very nearly flew out of it and landed on my head, that was one of the days I was reminded that adrenaline is coloured brown. You’ll be pleased to know we made it to the pub, safely. And we enjoyed a well-deserved pint.

Life lesson: practice new skills and communicate more often to avoid injury. Life in a wheelchair: at least you get your own seat.

The Pedal Bin Incident.

Although this was very funny for me I suppose it could be a problem for those would do spend their life in a wheelchair. I was placed in a side bay for a few weeks whilst up in Selly Oak hospital, I hopped onto my wheelchair and went outside my room where the nurses station was located. My self-set mission was to get rid of the bag of rubbish I had managed to accumulate, the offending bag of rubbish was placed on my lap. Now I do have a rather odd sense of humour most of which is solely for my benefit. All the doctors and nurses where getting on with their work around the station until I announced that I wasn’t happy at all. I complained, with a completely straight face, that it was a completely unacceptable situation, no one at this point knew what the hell I was on about or why I was upset. My mate, one of the nurses was in hysterics at the other end of the nurse’s station, cheers Matt H. Eventually I got to the point of my mini rant, next to me was a pedal bin. How was I going to use it with no feet? I commandeered the use of one of the more senior doctors, Phil L’s, foot. He obliged and operated the foot pedal to allow me to dump my rubbish. I thanked him and about turned went into my room and chuckled to myself.

Life lesson: Let others in on your joke and learn to regrow feet. I’m sure there is a lesson for pedal bin designers here but it alludes me right now. Life in a wheelchair: learn to ask for help and accept it.


This is an interesting one. I have two stories one probably experienced by many wheelchair users every day, an experience which is unnecessary, ignorant and rude. The second story I found funny and my wife found funny for different reasons.

Many people who spend their life in a wheelchair will be able to relate to this first story. I had an appointment to have an x-ray taken of my right arm to see how it was healing. My appointment card was handed to the receptionist she checked it against her list, she then addressed all her questions to my wife, I was completely ignored as if I wasn’t even in the room. My wife told the lady that she should be tell me the information not asking her. It left me feeling quite angry, frustrated and small especially when it was someone who actually worked in a caring environment who treated me that way.

My second story is one of those awkward situations which could get you into trouble with your partner. We had been invited to a Christmas function so all the ladies were dressed up in their party dresses. I was sat on my wheelchair minding my own business, my wife was at the bar talking to one of her friends Manetta M whilst she waited for the barman to serve them. I was approached by a very nice girl who wanted a chat about what had happened to me and to ask how I was doing. I’ll be honest I found answering any questions very difficult indeed. Her very nice party dress was very low cut indeed. How I managed to keep my eyes from looking down I’ll never know, to make matters even worse my wife and her friend were watching me, they were taking great delight in watching my discomfort.

Life lesson: Learn how to talk to people even if they seem different. Take gifted opportunities when they present themselves. Life in a wheelchair: there isn’t anything wrong with our minds.

Getting into Lifts.


Now I am not going to shower myself in glory here at all, I used to get rather frustrated in lifts. People jumping into lifts before I could even get in them to only go up or down one flight of stairs could be quite annoying. Once I was the only one waiting at a lift I pressed the button, then as the lift door opened loads of people came from nowhere and barged me out of the way. I was left open mouthed as the lift went on its way, I could see the people in the lift stare at me with a look of utter embarrassment on their faces.

My wife at one point refused to get in the lift with me because she knew I was a ‘lift nightmare’ she would rather walk up or down several flights of stairs than be in a lift with me. Funny now but probably not funny at the time.

Life lesson: If you don’t need the lift take the stairs. Its free fitness and usually quicker. Life in a wheelchair: what I’d give to run up or down some stairs.

Final thoughts…Life in a wheelchair.

Although there is the odd funny story in this article it is amazing how people who spend some or all of their life in a wheelchair are treated. It’s not just on an individual level, it’s on a collective level. As a society we don’t make it easy for wheelchair users at all, it sometimes seems that town and city planners actually make it harder for wheelchair users. Parents pushing prams about town will experience the same problems, it sometimes seems that to keep prams out of shops, which some restaurants and shops manage to do for whatever reason also keep out wheelchair users. This happened in my home town which still surprises me to this day. One thing I think should be a prerequisite, all town and city planners, engineers and architects in fact anybody that has anything to do with social living should spend time in a wheelchair, escorted blind or push a wheelchair and see what its really like to live with a disability. Life in a Wheelchair isn’t always much fun.

It’s strange isn’t it, decades ago we put a man on the moon, but we can’t make our living spaces accessible to everyone.

The Independent’s Business Editor David Prosser was told he would be in a wheelchair for weeks after a cycling accident. No problem, he thought. Modern Britain is adapted to the needs of those on four wheels – isn’t it?

I read David’s article after I had written this blog entry. Its interesting to see some of the similarities between our stories. If you wish to read David Prosser’s full article press here READ ME

#blownaway #theindependent

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