I’m in a wheelchair. Yep, that’s right. I went from two feet to four wheels. It’s hard for me to say I’m okay with this transition or ready for it (My arms are incredibly out of shape which I’ll definitely have to work on before heading back to IU). Anyone who has read my previous posts knows that I am angry and depressed about how my body is betraying me. So officially going from a relatively able bodied person to a less than able bodied person really sucks.
That’s not to say people in wheelchairs aren’t able. They totally are. I just have no idea how they manage to do it. Honest to God, I am in awe of everyone and anyone who is in a wheelchair and manages to lead a relatively normal life. How do you do it? All I can think as my disability worsens is everything I am going to lose. And how hard doing normal things will be. And how embarrassed I get asking people for help. I don’t know how I am going to live a normal college life in a chair.
I am trying to figure it out though. When I was figuring out my schedule for school this coming fall, I ran into many problems. How do people in wheelchairs get on buses? I know it’s possible, I’ve just never seen how. Some of the hills at IU are really intense and going up them backwards seems like it would be easier, but is that silly or really even a feasible option? Where are the handicap entrances to some of the buildings and lecture halls? I know they have them, I just – I just don’t know where. How am I going to get around when it snows? It snows a lot in Bloomington. These are just a handful of the questions I had while trying to find a schedule that works for me. It almost drove me to tears.
I didn’t cry though. At least, not yet. I’m sure I’ll have many breakdowns this fall when I return to school. I keep reminding myself that I have incredible friends and family members who will do everything they can to help me. They are one of the many ways I am incredibly fortunate still. My academic advisor is another way I’m fortunate. She’s wonderfully supportive and helpful in regards to everything I’m going through, from the personal things to the psychological to the physical – she’s always right there giving me useful advise.
But back to what I was talking about: Being in a wheelchair. My mom and I went to the walking bridge a few days ago. The ramp to get up to it is intense then the bridge is 0.47 miles long, so up the ramp and across the bridge and back then back down the ramp was quite the journey for my weak arms. Mom had to help me at certain points, I admit, but I still did more than I thought I’d be able to. My hands took a beating though. I got blisters and bruises and the beginning of callouses. My hands look pretty ugly as of now but that’s okay.
I remember back when I did gymnastics. The uneven bars were my favorite part. I don’t even remember the pain from the beginning when I was developing callouses but I do remember having them. After that came the horseback riding. I developed even more callouses during that. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t mind not having perfectly smooth “beautiful” and feminine hands. I’m used to having, heck, even comfortable having imperfect hands. Right now, however, they just hurt. A lot.
After I did the bridge, I felt strong and empowered. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. My next big challenge is going to be vacation which I leave for on Thursday. I am nervous. Really nervous. I’m going to have to do a lot of arm work for those ten days I’m going to be away. My arms are not ready for this, I know that, but I’m gonna get through this like I get through everything – with sheer stubbornness and perseverance. That’s how I got through conditioning when I did sports, how I got through the Europe trip senior year, and how I’ll get through everything else that is to come. So far it’s worked out for me.
As always, thank you to anyone who is reading. I know this post isn’t my best and to be honest, I wrote this over a week ago so some of the information isn’t 100%. For example, I just returned from vacation which is what my next post will be about. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed and I’d love to know what are some of the struggles you guys have gone through and overcome? I’d love to hear some stories of hardship and perseverance.
~ Jessa ~