Wheelchairs, wheelers, wheelies, it can all mean something different to each of us. The reason for this website is to make anybody who uses a wheelchair or has some kind of relationship with it be comfortable with it, get plenty of information and be able to share with others.
“Not everyone who uses a wheelchair is a paraplegic and you don’t have to be a paraplegic to use a wheelchair.”
There are many reasons why people use a chair. The most obvious one is for para and quadriplegia. So when somebody sees you in a chair, they usually presume that you have been in a car accident and now you are paralysed from waist down. Nobody’s going to argue that complete paraplegia is not a good reason for using a chair. They will understand it. They will say that you are confined to it but that it is the only way for you to get around. Fairly clear cut. But how about a person who has incomplete paralysis? Mark Zupan is an incomplete quad. He can stand. He can walk some. Yet, he uses a wheelchair most of his time. Why in the world would he do it, most people will ask. And he would tell them that he can do more from a chair. It makes him fast. It saves his energy. But a lot of people won’t understand it. Why doesn’t he want to look more normal? Why does he choose to be a gimp? Because he understands that mobility is more important than walking. People drive cars rather than walk for longer distances. Yet, it’s hard to comprehend that the same thing applies to using a wheelchair. A wheelchair is a means to mobility. There are people who have MS and are in similar situation like Mark. Some will choose to wheel and have fun, some will choose not to and will be stuck in their house under the veil of looking normal. There are many conditions for which people would use a chair occasionally. It would be highly beneficial for their well-being but there is too much stigma connected with a chair. Also, other people always want an explanation. So people hide their need, hide their pain, pop in a few pills and go on.
And then, there is another category of people who might use a chair. People who think wheeling is fun and they will pretend that they need a chair and use it sometimes.
Yet, there is another category of people who use a wheelchair. Persons who have a rare neurological disorder called BIID, Body Identity Integrity Disorder. Their brain is wired differently. The body map in their brain tells them how their body looks, yet the reality is different. When one becomes an amputee, the body map in one’s brain changes and conforms to the new reality. Yet, for people with BIID, their body map might read: an amputee, or a paraplegic, or a person who is blind, yet their body has no impairment that their brain is claiming them to have. It causes a huge mental rift in the mind, it causes pain and depression. But for some, using a wheelchair part time will alleviate some of the pain, it will bring more peace and open the person to a fuller, more real life.
This website wants to unite all wheelchair users, no matter their reason for using a chair. It wants to show that we share many similar struggles while realising that each one of us is unique. I can’t tell anybody if they should or should not use a chair. If using a chair helps you to feel better (mentally or physically), if it makes your life more real, if it brings you closer to others, if it makes you mobile, who am I to judge?