No I am not talking about changing your politics or changing your underwear . . . although . . . never mind. I am talking about changing attitudes. Not everyone has a problem with people who are different, just a notable minority. That process of changing their attitudes is on going and never-ending. Where we can make a huge difference is in ourselves, our attitudes. Yes we are ambassadors for everyone in a wheelchair but we are also ambassadors to ourselves.
I have often joked that the legs at the end of my hips weren’t mine. They certainly were not acting like we had any kind of relationship. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand and if I wanted to move my foot I had to use my hands to do it. Ever since I was told that I needed to give myself permission to fail occasionally I have been rethinking my legs. Because I have no other legs to change to I will have to find a way to get along with the ones I have. As a parent did you ever have a child that would not listen to you, would not obey any rules you laid down? Those without children, did you ever have a dog that refused to come when you called? Well my errant appendages are like that. Did you stop loving your child or your dog because of a difference of opinion? No, you found a way to make it work. I have an arm that is awkward to use. It doesn’t open properly and I can’t straighten it out fully. So I do more things with my other arm. I adapt. People are capable of adapting to almost any situation it just takes time and effort, and a lot of thought.
I spoke to a man once who had lost one leg to diabetes. He was inquiring about buying my van. During the course of the very pleasant conversation I learned that he had just recently lost his leg. I was surprised. My illness came on me very slowly over a period of years. He went from two legs to one in a matter of minutes. I don’t care how much you prepare for such an event it must have been traumatic. This man was upbeat, laughing, totally in control. He had made peace with his situation and was in the process of adapting to it. This man was and is an inspiration to me. Here I am frustrated with my legs and he is moving on with his life. I must admit I was a little ashamed of myself. I can get hung up with such unimportant things. I am a well-adjusted (sort of), intelligent woman. I can adjust when I need to, it just takes a little effort. And perhaps a change of attitude.