We, as a species, lie to ourselves on a regular basis, for any number of reasons. I don’t want to focus on the myriad reasons, but rather on one lie that a more specific “we” – this “we” meaning wheelchair users – perpetuate.
Recently, on social media and its ilk, as I have been following more individuals who blog about their experiences as a person with a disability, I have seen several wheelchair users state that they do not “wish” they could eschew the wheelchair and walk. A common refrain is, “You can’t miss what you’ve never had.”
I’ve never had one million dollars, but I miss it. I’ve never had sex (that is an embarrassing admission), but I miss it more than the million.
Here’s the long and short of it: I call bullshit on any wheelchair user who says they wouldn’t take a magic pill that would make it possible for them to walk. If Morpheus showed up at the door with a red pill and a blue pill, I would take whichever one would get me out of this chair. I might take both just to be on the safe side.
I’m not saying that other wheelchair users aren’t content with their lots in life. Someone once accused me of not having come to terms with my situation because I detest the use of certain terminology. (That’s a story for another day, but ends like this: She was stupid.) Neither of those things is true. The number one reason I would take the pill is because it would make my life a helluva lot easier.
It is no secret that the world is not meant for wheelchair users. It’s the entire basis of the social model of disability. If I could eliminate the wheelchair, what parts of the world would suddenly be open to me? Second floors of buildings without an elevator? Storefronts with no ramp? Staircases to nowhere? Two-story houses? The possibilities are…well, if not endless, at least expansive.
Keep in mind, I’m just talking about being able to walk, not necessarily being rid of my OI. Being rid of my OI would be something else altogether.
So, no, I don’t believe any wheelchair user who says he or she doesn’t wish to walk. I think it is one of those lies we tell ourselves to convince ourselves that we aren’t missing out on anything. In truth, I’m not missing out on anything important. It’s the little things that I wish for. Like being able to walk up a couple of steps rather than having to scout around for a more accessible route. Or, speaking of scouting, being able to go somewhere new without having to visit once or twice beforehand to ensure I’ll be able to handle it on my own, if I’m able to get in at all.
Or, how about being invited to an event at someone’s home, and not have to worry that a) I can’t get in at all or b) the only way I can get in scares the buh-jay-sus out of me. My blood pressure would likely be a lot lower if I didn’t have the constant stress of worrying whether or not I can get up to or into something/somewhere.
So, would I wish away my OI? Probably, depending on how much it would change my personality. Would I wish away my wheelchair in favor of two-footed transport? Every day.