My phone rang – someone was calling from a Washington D.C. number. I usually ignore unknown numbers, but something made me answer this time.
“Hi, this is *Frank, your Lyft driver. I see you have a chair, will it fit in the back of a regular-sized sedan?”
I’d forgotten I had my account on the accessibility setting. This must have been why the only available driver was over 15 minutes away – Lyft had to find someone who could transport a wheelchair.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I forgot I had the accessibility setting on. I don’t have my chair with me.”
“Oh…ok. Well, I’m – I guess I’m about 10 minutes away. Bye.”
In my mind I began creating an awkward (or worse – judgmental) hypothetical conversation for when Frank arrived. Continue reading What do you use your chair for? How a Lyft driver wore me out.
The first time I used a wheelchair was after tearing my ACL during a college soccer match in Washington, D.C. in 2005. My teammates convinced me to use one when we visited the Holocaust Museum, instead of crutches. I remember feeling invisible. I remember being trapped in the middle of congested hallways and exhibit rooms, seeing nothing but the backs of people scooting around and in front of me like I was a planter box in their way. I remember feeling empathy for people who spend a majority of their lives in a wheelchair. I hardly remember anything about the museum from that visit. And I became terrified of ever needing to use a wheelchair again.
On January 21st, 2017, I rolled in the Women’s March on Sacramento alongside some 30,000 people. I have only recently, very reluctantly, decided to begin using a wheelchair because of deteriorating health. My experience from college still haunts me, but I am learning to embrace how much more fully I can participate in life by using assistive devices that reduce pain and fatigue caused by Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s the difference between staying home and showing up.
However, I was nervous about navigating the march, even with friends to help push me. I expected that I would spend all my energy advocating for space just to be able to proceed in a straight line. I thought I might regret the decision to use the chair, even though not using it could result in being bedridden for days or weeks.
Would I return home wishing I had not gone? Continue reading A New Wheelchair User’s Experience at the Women’s March