I’ve done it at movie theaters, in restaurant booths, on park benches, onto couches at a party, definitely on a beach chair…wait? What do you think I was talking about here? Eh-hem…I’m referring to a certain transfer many people with spinal cord injuries do. It’s a thing and I’m here to talk about it.
After our injuries, we’re not supposed to want to feel normal anymore. We’re supposed to embrace being disabled. Be proud of who we are they preach, and I am. But sometimes, just sometimes…it’s nice to not always be seen as disabled. It’s a bit tiring always having to be that person, hence online gaming and other online worlds where you can be someone else.
Since I’m not able to transfer myself and can’t partake in this phenomenon as often as paraplegics and others with low-level quadriplegia are, I relish in the moment every time I experience the adrenaline rush of not being in my wheelchair but still being active. Being active and doing something, ie, not being in bed but not being in your wheelchair is a tricky line to follow in the world of not being able to walk.
Your options are limited – handcycles, various furniture options, a friend’s lap, cool cars. Your wheelchair is your best friend truly, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like you’re free of it (even though deep down you know you need it like you need air in your lungs). It’s fun sitting on a couch at a party when people walk in and don’t automatically see your wheelchair. They see you instead and that’s a nice change for once.
The wheelchair can carry so much baggage. It’s a short treat pretending like you don’t need it, even if it’s for a moment, or a photo. Just recently I saw a famous Paralympian post a picture of herself on a tiny little wooden chair at a wedding reception even though she had a perfectly fine wheelchair to sit in. “Why do we do this?” I’m sure people around us wonder whenever they see us doing something like this, but they just don’t get it.
We do it to have that sweet-spot feeling of fitting in. There is a portion of people out there who truly don’t like sitting in their wheelchairs because they’re not comfortable, so getting out whenever possible makes sense, but for those who have Cadillac wheelchairs, it can be a little bit more complicated to explain.
Just yesterday I transferred out of my wheelchair and took a long Sunday drive with my boyfriend in his very cool sports car leaving my powerchair far behind. There is a deep satisfaction from sitting in the passenger seat and having people peer in looking at how cool your car is, maybe looking at how good you look, but they’re definitely not staring at you because of your wheelchair.
When I return to my wheelchair it’s like returning to the real world, but it’s not a sad thing. Nothing gets me around better than my wheelchair, but the quiet joy of feeling free of my chair…even for a few hours…it can’t be beat.
Do you transfer out often? Why you do it?
Photo courtesy of Flickr