Yesterday I sat and watched as the wheelchair repair guy, nice as I was, dissembled my wheelchair. Pieces lay, in organized piles, all over the floor. I'd been waiting for this, wanting this, but now that it was happening, I felt nothing but deep panic. I'd learned from the nursery rhyme that 'all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty together again' ... that some things, once apart can't ever be mended again.
The repair guy worked with calm, confidence. A confidence that I had a tough time feeling. I remembered when Erin, niece extraordinaire, lived with us, then near us, in Quebec. She would come over and work on our computer, adding memory and the like, I would get so stressed that I'd have to leave. That computer was the lifeline of our business and we depended on it for our livelihood and she'd get in and, with no compunction, DO THINGS TO IT. The stress, I thought then, was overwhelming.
Let me tell you, that was nothing compared to sitting and watching someone tip my manual chair back and begin to take off the front wheels. People who have these skills work with such quiet purpose. Eventually, things started to fit back together, calm transmitted from his movements to my breathing.
Finally, the chair was ready for me to try.
I had been sitting in a horrible, old, chair that we'd bought as a replacement chair. It didn't fit me. It didn't work for me, It was awful. I hefted myself out of that chair and got, gingerly, not knowing if I could trust the 'fix' into my chair. I gave a push and sailed down the hallway of my office.
It was done.
A wheelchair user's relationship with their chair is unlike any other relationship we have, or so it seems to me. It spends so much time being 'part' of me, it frees me, it makes my life possible. My chair lost 'thing' status only days after I started using it. My chair has been all over the UK, all over the US and all over Canada - it's well travelled and it's served me well. I worry when I give it over to the airline, I am excited when I see it arrive back. It's part of me when I'm in it, it's waiting for me when I'm not.
I said to the fellow, "It must be nice having a job that makes such a big difference in people's lives." He was a little shy but he said, "It's a good way to spend the day."
I'm glad he spent part of his day fixing my chair.
It's better so I'm better. That may make sense only to others for whom wheels make the way possible.