On Thursday, January 3rd, I used a wheelchair for the very first time. This was a little over a week after I started using my cane in a public setting.
For many years now, I have been very vocal about my disabilities on YouTube and in writing. I’m deaf, and also deal with chronic pain and fatigue.
I’ve been dealing with pain for around fourteen years, but I never did much about it besides chiropractor appointments, Ibuprofen, and IcyHot patches. For years, it was somewhat manageable with a few flare ups here and there, but lately, it’s started to become more of a regular thing. There are now more days when I’m not able to get out of bed because of back and shoulder pain or because of a migraine. Walking long distances in cities and the like have become unbearable. Standing in line at airport security now often leaves me lightheaded and hot.
Getting the confidence to buy a cane and use it in public took a long time due to the fear of not being “disabled enough” in abled eyes. I don’t regret my choice at all and it’s helped me out in times that I needed it, but some days, I know that it’s not enough. Mostly in airports which can make you stand for a long time without moving.
And on January 3rd, after an hour of travel to get to the airport, I knew that my cane wasn’t going to be enough for me when I saw the line at security. And after denying a wheelchair the first time I was asked (since they saw my cane), I bit the bullet and went back upstairs to ask for the wheelchair.
The Good Things
Not having to walk more and stand still in line for so long and deal with more pain in the end was so nice. I was able to bypass everyone in line. I had help lifting my heavy carry-on and didn’t have to rush taking all of my stuff out which usually makes me even more lightheaded and heated. Lastly, being taken to my gate without having to worry about my cane, backpack, and carry-on was nice too.
The Not So Good Things
When I started using my cane, I had some worries about looks because a young person with a cane isn’t the norm. But since a cane wasn’t as noticeable, I didn’t get very many, and those I did get felt more like quick glances than anything else.
But someone, especially a young person, is much more noticeable. And I felt a lot more looks this time around, and a few lasted a bit longer than the ones when I was using a cane did.
Another thing is the massive confusion and communication barriers during security. After I went through the xray once, I noticed that my stuff had gone through xray but then had to go through again and I wasn’t sure why. But nobody was really talking to me. I was left to stand which wasn’t something I was very fond off as I was tired, but nobody would bring my wheelchair back to me. Eventually, I was given a chair but was still confused as to what was going on. Eventually, someone came to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand her, and signed to her that I didn’t. I eventually understood that she was going to give me a pat down, though I wasn’t sure why as I already had the okay from the xray. But a few minutes later, I got my wheelchair back and I was off to my gate.
Overall, I’m very glad I got the courage to ask for a wheelchair when I needed it. It resulted in me being in less pain and less tired. It’s definitely something that I would do again. I have traveled again since, though I haven’t had a flare up that required assistance. But I hope to continue to have the courage to ask when I need it.