Because of my legs, I had no strength to stand or walk, so I sat at home for days! The first few days weren’t that much of an issue, but eventually the frustration started to build. It was horrible to sit and wait for my legs to gain strength again, so my optimism also started to flee.
I needed to make a plan to get myself out of the house to lift my mood, so I started asking questions: What could I still do physically where I don’t need to use leg muscles? Well, I still had my upper body strength, so I can use that as a start. Then the light bulb went on: ‘Wheelchair! I can still be mobile! Let’s go to the mall!’
For once, I didn’t feel guilty to park in the parking space for people with disabilities. I asked a friend that works in the mall to help me get a wheelchair. Once I was in it, the fun started!
Usually, someone would push me but that day it was me, myself and I! I thought steering a wheelchair would be simple – just keep the wheels straight and roll. Huh … No! I tried to stay out of people’s way on the far left, but for some bizarre reason I ended up bumping into the shop window on the far right. I wondered what people thought! I hoped they laughed, because I for one thought it was hilarious. It was great fun and did me good!
What upset me was that I couldn’t reach some of the things on the shelves and people working in the shop kept ignoring me. I waved my hand up high as far as I could, but no one seemed to notice. I also realised how important the standard of the wheelchair was. One of the brakes on the wheelchair didn’t work at all! At one time, I stood up and when I wanted to sit, it rolled out under me.
I also suggested to shop owners that it might be an idea to put one person in charge of being a personal assistant to someone in a wheelchair as long as they were in the in the shop.
Nevertheless, it was a blast and a great adventure that I won’t forget soon!
I learnt that in a situation where one is frustrated, it helps to not look at what you can’t do, but have fun with the things you can do!
By Deon Labuschagne
Vista Happiness HELPS Ambassador