After a meeting, one of the women hung back a bit and then told me that she is dealing with a medical situation that is slowly leading to her needing the use of a wheelchair. We talked about that for a bit and then she asked me how I found my wheelchair. Her question was like pushing the button to launch a rocket.
I told her that adapting to the wheelchair would be much easier than she might imagine. Her world would get bigger not smaller, she'd be able to do things and go places that, right now, might seem unimaginable. Learning to negotiate around people and other barriers would become second nature to her. If you can manage to walk, you can manage to roll.
She looked at me, with what I thought was interest. So. I continued.
I told her about the social change. People would perceive her differently. I gave a few examples about 'disappearance' from the social sphere, about loss of voice. I told her that, for me, I had to really be ready to be assertive, not aggressive, so that I would be considered in interactions, that I would be 'seen' in line ups, that I would be 'heard' in placing my order at a restaurant. Managing a wheelchair was one thing, managing the social aspect was another. But, I reassured her, that she had all the skills necessary to assert herself as a person with a disability because she had learned to assert herself as a woman in business.
I was done but she still looked at me with interest. So. Of course. I continue.
I told her about choosing a wheelchair based on it's 'rollability' and told her the test I used when buying a chair. I talked to her about the various kinds of barriers the chair would face, carpet being a big one. Other physical barriers would also need to be considered, she needed to think about the width of the chair and the width of her doors at home. The wheelchair would open up her world but it would also close down some of it too.
I was running out of things to say, but she was still looking at me. So. I stopped.
She said, "I meant where did you buy it?"