The Handiness in Being Handicapped

For those who don’t know, I live with a disability. I’m used to it, but occasionally I come across something that reminds me of all the things I can’t do, and I have to make a choice not to let it get to me. So I try to find joy in the little things. I try to recognize those moments when I realize I have an advantage. Every now and then there are some things that make all this worthwhile, things that make me smile.

Wheelchairs. Who hasn’t thought it would be fun to tool around in one? You can admit it. Wheelchairs are awesome. And it’s not like you can just rent one. You kind of have to have a legitimate reason for one, otherwise it’s awkward. Zipping around in my small, fast TiLite is pretty fun. It’s the only time I can actually go faster than everyone else in the world. The big open floors at Sam’s Club and Ikea are perfect racing grounds (although, you want to go with an able-bodied hubby or friend because what you make up for in speed, you lose in being able to maneuver those big carts around, yeah, picture it in your mind, and now go ahead and laugh, it’s okay, I promise). And for me, the chair lets me do more for longer than if I was just walking. A few summers ago we went to Yellowstone National Park, which was amazingly accessible. There were boardwalks everywhere so even in the wheelchair I could get up close and see the paint pots and the pools full of cyanobacteria. I’d never have been able to keep up if I was walking.

Parking. That’s the one advantage everyone thinks of. I have a handy-dandy placard in my car that lets me park in those big spots right up close to the stores. Very nice (until they’re all taken and I have to park forever away and walk, but that’s a soap box for another day). What most people don’t realize is that there are several advantages to handicapped parking that those of us with disabilities need. I use all of them at various points. Yes, the location is a big one. If I’m walking then the last thing I want to do before hours of shopping (I hate shopping) is hike a million miles before I even get to the store. But if I’m in my chair then distance is nothing. It becomes an issue of space. Even my little custom-fitted TiLite is too big to get between the cars in the rest of the lot. That’s what those hash marks are for (not grocery carts). Oh, and when I’m in the chair, I’m short. Cars driving through the parking lot can’t see me, so getting a spot up close keeps me from getting run over. Always a good thing.

Airports. There really isn’t anything good about airports, but the wheelchair makes it bearable. Security sees me coming and a special line magically opens just for me. Sure I have to live through a patdown, (chair can’t go through a metal detector) but what’s getting to second base with a complete stranger in latex gloves compared to skipping that hellish line? I’ll take second base, please (even if they don’t buy me dinner first). And sometimes Josh can play up my disability and fanagle us bulkhead seats. Seriously, his height should be considered a disability when we’re flying anyway.

I’m sure there are other advantages. These are the ones that come to mind immediately. Maybe I’ll share them with y’all as I come up with them. Can anyone think of any more? Come on. There are so many crappy things. Let’s revel in the good for once.

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