Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Special Exposure Wednesday...We've got wheels!!!
We are borrowing this chair from the Spastic Centre until funding comes through for Ashlea's own wheelchair. It is a surprisingly good fit and Ashlea enjoyed trying it out yesterday afternoon. I always thought that the day we picked up Ashlea's first wheelchair would be really emotional. However because the loan chair became available quite quickly I didn't have the opportunity to dwell on it too much. Probably a good thing. The surprising thing - and there have been many surprising things along this journey - was that it wasn't emotional in a sad "my child's in a wheelchair" kind of way at all. I did feel a little teary - not because it was sad - rather because it was such a delight to see Ashlea using the chair and trying to get around. She really enjoyed the freedom. I think she particularly enjoyed being able to see where she was going - usually when she is crawling she just goes along full pelt and every so often will stop and look around to get her bearings. In the chair she could see where she wanted to go and try to get there. We still have a long way to go with getting her used to pushing it herself - but she seems to 'get' that she has control of where she wants to go, so hopefully that will help her be motivated to self-propel.
On the way home from picking up the chair, I stopped at a large chain of huts that serves pizza to get some dinner. I thought I'd be brave and take the chair in rather than the pram (another surprise - the chair is lighter than the pram). I had been dreading that first outing in the wheelchair so I thought I'd just get it over and done with.
Well, you'd think those poor boys who work there had never seen a person in a wheelchair before. They were so gobsmacked at the sight of Ashlea that they nearly forgot to make the pizza. I had to remind them to go make the pizza. I had always imagined that the looks and comments would be more subtle. Nope.
They started with:
"Is she sick?"
Me - No she has a disability.
Then it became:
"I feel so terrible for children like this"
"I hope she gets better one day"
"Will she walk" (you can visualise the head shaking when I told them that wasn't likely)
"What is her disability" (more head shaking and tut-tutting when I said cerebral palsy)
It was really quite full on. I was trying to give simple answers as I didn't really want to have a lengthy discussion with them. And I didn't know what to say. Ashlea doesn't feel terrible that she has these disabilities so I don't know how to deal with total strangers who claim to feel terrible on her behalf. Please feel free to leave clever retorts in the comments that I can use in the future!
Anyway, I wonder if Ashlea picked up on it all because when we got to the car (the pizza guy had to carry the pizzas for me as I hadn't yet worked out you have no free hands when pushing a wheelchair) I said to Ashlea:
"Say bye bye to the pizza man"
Ashlea whispered "bye bye"
I put her in the car and as the man walked away (out of ear shot thankfully) she said:
"Bye bye stinky"
I looked at her and said "WHAT did you just say"
She looked back and said "Bye bye poo-poo"
Don't forget to check out the other Special Exposure Wednesday photos here.