After many months of deliberation; whether or not to spend on a new wheelchair, will I be able to manage with a shorter backrest, where to buy it from etc. – I finally purchased an active wheelchair. An active wheelchair is a manual chair, but it is lightweight and easy to maneuver.
My first four days with the chair were transformational. Propelling the wheelchair was not as cumbersome as I had imagined it to be. In fact, it was the opposite. Going around the house and adjusting my chair to a particular angle became so simple and easy. I felt like a kid who has just learned to walk.
Not just giving me the freedom to move around the house, this chair also gave me a better sitting balance. I do not fear to lose my balance or falling off the chair. New possibilities that have opened up for me now. I can stretch my hand to the far right to pick up the remote control from the table. The other day I was able to pull a basket of vegetables from the kitchen platform, lift it, put it on my lap and bring it to my mother in the living room. I got so excited with this new development that I begged my mother to give me a cloth dipped in soapy water so that I could clean the area around our refrigerator’s handle.
These small improvements have filled my life with joy.
I always look up to the other active quadriplegics and marvel at their ability to do things by themselves. The day instrumental in my purchase decision was the one I spent at ESCIP house. It is a residential setup where quadriplegics train quadriplegics. One of them spoke about keeping their dishes back in the sink after lunch – and I thought to myself, haven’t done that in a long time! Another example that pops up is my conversation with
Another example that pops up is my conversation with Pragya Ghildial, a peer counselor cum yoga therapist cum an athlete that represents India. We were in the middle of a break at a seminar in ISIC and she wheeled into the room with a cup of tea kept on top of a few notebooks on her lap – and I said ‘Wow, you can balance that’!
Little did I know that even I will be able to do these things soon. My Nanima was at our home when the new chair arrived. That evening when I brought her dinner from the kitchen, by keeping it on my lap, the surprised look on her face was worth capturing.
Doing stuff with your body, when the only thing you can control is above your shoulders- requires a lot of practice, time, persistence and overlooking bearable pain.