Life in a wheelchair is undoubtedly worth living. Getting used to it won’t come easy, but you certainly can!
There can be challenges when you’re getting accustomed to this new way of life. There are people out there who continue to portray disabled people as useless, so much so that they can, unfortunately, start to believe it themselves. It’s wholly unacceptable, and you should try to understand these remarks have no basis in reality.
Wheelchair users still have a lot of autonomy in their lives. You have the final say over what type of life you choose to lead. You choose how you tackle external forces undermining you and your integrity.
Life in a wheelchair is a big change. But how can you get come to terms with and get used to your circumstances? Read on for some suggestions.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
One mustn’t make light of everything you’re going through. Acclimatising to life in a wheelchair can cause extraordinary emotional turmoil, and you should give yourself the space and permission to feel all of those feelings whenever you need to.
Grieving what you’ve lost can hit you anywhere at any time. It’s not always something you can come to terms with in the weeks, months, or even years that follow the inciting incident. You may read books on grieving that outline different emotional stages from the one you’re on. Each wheelchair user has their own journey to embark on here, and that’s personal and sacred to you.
At the same time, some feel like they have become better people because of the incidents they’ve experienced in their lives. They can come to see their wheelchair as their figurative legs and start thinking more about the future, retraining for lines of work they long had passions for. Obviously, you shouldn’t place these profound expectations on yourself from the start, but know that it’s possible to reach a place where everything will be okay again.
Perhaps also try to realise that feelings are complicated and multiple things can be true simultaneously! You can still grieve the loss of your legs years in the future, even if you’ve found other aspects of your life to enjoy and find contentment within. Talking about things with a therapist for as long as you need might be a good idea and help you make sense of these feelings and thoughts.
Leave the House Regularly
When you’re new to being a wheelchair user, you might not feel inclined to leave the house very much. However, doing so could give you a sense of freedom and perspective that you may have thought you lost.
It’s easier to get around with wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV), which can take you anywhere you’d like to go. They’re manufactured with your comfort and safety in mind and can reduce a lot of stress you might otherwise feel during a trip outdoors. You can bring more enrichment into your life by having one.
You can find a WAV to suit your needs and requirements with Allied Mobility’s help. They can be financed differently, making their stock suitable for various budgets. You can buy one, hire one, or lease one via the Mobility Scheme, so work with the UK’s leading specialist on these matters. It’s possible to organise a home demonstration with them, too, so that you can be certain you’re securing the WAV that’s perfect for your needs.
These types of vehicles can help you find your sense of independence again. You can head out, join clubs, meet new friends, and visit the places you’ve always loved spending time in. There’s a world of opportunity out there, and it’s waiting for you when you’re ready.
Join a Disabled Support Group
There’s no intention to play down what you’re going through when we say that you’re not the only wheelchair user in the world. It’s useful to remember because while disabled people have unique experiences, there are many instances of common ground too. You may experience the same things but in a different order or with slightly differing nuances.
A disabled support group can help you come to terms with the state of things. You can attend once if you like, or keep visiting for the rest of your life should you choose to. There are no obligations or expectations of you, and you may even be allowed to just listen instead of speak for the first few sessions. Much of what you encounter in these settings can be eye-opening.
You can think about your challenges and issues, but simultaneously, start thinking about other people’s. What disabilities do they have? How are they finding things? Perhaps recounting your own experiences can help somebody else. No matter what’s discussed, you will likely feel a strong sense of togetherness here.
If you do visit the disabled support group regularly, then it can be one of the first things that can help you feel a sense of routine again. There’s a place to go where you’re wanted and accepted, free of judgement and assumptions. All of these things can be powerful motivators.
Make Suitable Home Adjustments
Things are far from perfect regarding the provision of disability-friendly homes. There’s currently a nationwide shortage of them.
That said, the government is aware of the problem and will hopefully take significant strides to rectify things. In mid-2022, they confirmed plans to raise the accessibility standards of new build properties, which should make a difference in the future should they follow through. So, it may be worth moving into a wheelchair-friendly home when you can find one.
Alternatively, it may be worth seeing if you modify your current home. Some of the changes you might wish to make could include the following:
- Installing ramps at every entry point.
- Lowering kitchen counter surfaces, dining room tables, your bed, and any other surfaces you need to reach more easily.
- Placing down specialised mattresses.
- Replacing carpeted floors with wooden floors.
- Featuring grab rails in bathrooms.
Your local authority may be able to help you with funding if changes cost less than £1000. Otherwise, you can apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant through your local authority, where an occupational therapist will assess conditions and verify what home modifications are required.
Be Kind to Yourself
Above all, it’s important to be kind to yourself. Things may not be ideal, and even incredibly hard at times, but learning to be patient with your capabilities and your needs is vital.
It’s a new chapter of your life and can feel like a reset in some ways. You may even need to relearn how to do basic tasks for yourself. It’s okay to feel sad and frustrated sometimes, but through it all, you should try to avoid directing those feelings at your own self. There should be no feelings of failure or inferiority here, just a focus on constant learning and readjusting.
Time isn’t always a healer of all wounds. However, it can help you come to terms with things as they stand, and the pain of those hurts can be better managed or set aside for increasingly intermittent periods. Though this article has a lot of guidance, you shouldn’t try to overburden yourself by forcing things to be okay. There’s no strict timeline to follow beyond any physical therapy you may be undergoing. Take each day as it comes, ask for help when needed, and be proud of any amount of progress made.