Thoughts from a first time "wheeler"

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by Belle1962, Jan 2, 2001.

  1. Belle1962

    Belle1962 DIS Veteran

    Aug 18, 1999
    Sorry to be so long in posting this but thought I would write out my thoughts and observations about my FIRST experience using a wheelchair at WDW, especially since there always seem to be some "concerns" about people who are "healthy" (translate into LOOKS HEALTHY) using wheelchairs to scam the system. This is also for the people (of ANY age) who don't want to get into a wheelchair at WDW because they don't "really" need one, even when others in their group are telling them they should. I hope someone can learn something from this.

    Background: Was rear-ended by a speeding vehicle and slammed into the vehicle in front of me in October 1999. My lap belt held but the shoulder harness did not lock so I bounced around the car very hard. I suffered many neck, head (neurological), back and arm/hand injuries. This trip was planned BEFORE the accident and since so many other people were coming with us (and I was the troop leader) I HAD to go. Plus I love WDW. Plus I DESERVED to go after everything I had endured the past year. (I am very needle-phobic and some of the tests and procedures relied very heavily on different "needles" or sharp pointy things, iv's, etc).

    I did not rent a wheelchair until the last day of my trip. I really should have had one by day three of our trip but because I "don't look" disabled I kept putting it off. I was not mentally prepared to go into "the chair". On our last day my DH insisted I get a wheelchair and refused to tour a park unless I got one. Let me also say: All I did was rent the wheelchair. I did not ask for or get a special assistance pass–I stood in line if we wanted to ride–I just needed it to get from point A to point B. I WISH I HAD GOTTEN ONE EARLIER!!! I was able to enjoy myself much more and did not tire as easily when I was in the chair. It would have been a godsend earlier in the week.

    My concerns and what I learned:

    1. What will people think? People will stare. They'll think I'm "faking it".
    Who cares. YOU are the only judge of what you need or don't need. If renting a wheelchair makes it easier on you AND THE PEOPLE YOU ARE WITH then go for it. If you only need a wheelchair to get from point to point and can stand in line–so be it. I NEVER had anyone ask what I was doing in a chair or make snide remarks. Of course, we waited in the regular line, we did not use the chair as an excuse to jump to the front of the line.

    2. It will slow us down.
    I didn't realize that I was probably already slowing down the rest of my group with my refusal to go into a chair. My pace was much slower and I need to rest much more often. I didn't enjoy the parks or the attractions as much when I kept thinking about–where is the next bench, where can I sit, my head/neck/back hurts, etc
    3. I'll be giving up my independence/what I want to do if others have to push me around.
    I'm not sure how it is for everyone else, but I didn't give up any of my independence–my DH was always considerate enough to ask if I wanted to stop and watch when we saw street performers or if I wanted to hop into line for any attraction we passed. I didn't have to "give up" anything.

    4. Going into the chair is like "giving up".
    I felt that by doing the parks under my own steam I would retain my sense of well being and would be telling my injuries–HEY–I'VE WON. You aren't going to stop me from having fun and enjoying myself. Getting the wheelchair to ASSIST me was simply a SMART MOVE. If I had a broken arm or leg I wouldn't think twice about getting a cast. The chair doesn't define ME–it's just another medical aid. (I sure wouldn't give up my pain pills–they're just smaller and easier to hide–LOL)

    5. People will get tired of pushing me.
    Everyone kept telling me to get a wheelchair and they would push me. I wouldn't listen. I finally gave in and let my DH push me. I think HE actually felt better with me being in the chair then I did. I hadn't realized how tired I was by the end of the week and watching me move slowly and not enjoy myself as much as I normally do was hard on my DH.

    6. It will detract from my experience/the magic.
    This is along the same lines as "not being able to do what I want when I want. I found the opposite to be true. Because I wasn't worn out or in pain from all the walking and standing I actually enjoyed each attraction MORE. I didn't use the wheelchair areas for the parades or fireworks because we have always been the type to get there an hour ahead and save our spots. The smiles and "Hellos" I got from CM's and other guests actually meant MORE to me than when I was "ambulatory". I didn't feel as if people were uncomfortable talking to me or trying to ignore me.

    Will I use a wheelchair in the future? Lord willing I won't need to (there has to be a light at the end of this tunnel) but if I'm destined to live with these problems then YES I will use a wheelchair. It is far better to go to the parks in a wheelchair and ENJOY myself than to go and be in pain & not enjoy myself or (heaven forbid) not go at all.
  2. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

    Aug 23, 1999
    Thank you for writing about your experience. You will help more people than you know. Now if my FIL would just have your attitude, we wouldn't have to suffer by watching him walk around in pain.

    SueM in MN
    Co-Moderator of disABILITIES
    [​IMG] ˇ
  3. JudithM

    JudithM DIS Veteran

    Dec 5, 1999
    I can understand your feelings of not wanting to be in a wheelchair because "you look healthy." I have a recently diagnosed knee condition. Renting an ECV on our last trip to WDW saved me a lot of time & energy. It was worth it to us!

    One day when we were in line to go into the Stuudios we chatted with a family. Later, after I had gotten the ECV, we saw them again. The daughter recognized me & commented about the chair - in a "gee I didn't know" comment. She asked why I had the ECV & I explained to her. She was sweet
  4. Goofys

    Goofys Earning My Ears

    Aug 3, 2000
    Thanks for posting this!!! I will have to print it out and give it to Mom. I'm sure it will make her feel better!! :)

  5. bfeller

    bfeller <font color=green>"if he doesn't believe in fairie

    Jun 18, 2000
    Stevesmom, know exactly how you felt. I was diagnosed with Frieberg's Disease(now healed) and was using a cast for most of the day and could only be on foot for 2-3 hours per day. I too needed assistance while there last August. Although I rented an EVC because I wanted my independence(fortunately we could afford it) I only needed it when we were doing the day in the parks and could walk with cast on the off days.
    It made me look at life from another perspective and now find myself more interested on how others view you in wheelchairs. I guess it is like the old saying 'Walk a mile in my shoes'

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