Letter: My wheelchair experience

Due to surgery, I was confined to an electric wheelchair for a month. There’s an old saying “walk a mile in my shoes.” I rolled miles in an electric wheelchair and it wasn’t easy!

The experience opened my eyes and I empathize with the daily struggles of those who use such medical equipment. The hazards our wheelchair users face is downright astronomical: bricks and cracks in sidewalks cause pain when bumping over them; can’t get into businesses and when you do you can’t get down aisles without getting caught on something. I thought it was bad crossing a street in a crosswalk on foot. Well, it’s more hazardous in a wheelchair!

Imagine yourself restricted to a wheelchair or scooter and being ostracized by those without limitations ... Shouting “watch it, here comes speedy,” “Slow down, speedy” or “Slow it down!” What an insult! Do you also tell the deaf to “dig the potatoes out of their ears” or the blind to “watch where they’re going?” Stop being so insultingly rude, it’s downright discrimination. Protect, don’t oppress them!

Believe me, those who use electric wheelchairs or scooters are very good at driving them or they wouldn’t be using them. Do they have accidents? Of course, just like kids or able-bodied adults do! The disabled have a difficult enough time just getting through daily routines; we don’t need to add to their struggles.

We have responsibilities to show compassion, helping each other. So share sidewalks and crosswalks. It could be you or a loved one that becomes disabled at a snap. I know, it happened to me for a month and I learned a lot. I challenge you to use a wheelchair for just one week to see what it’s like. I appreciate my life and abilities much more for it these days.

DONNA GILCHREST

Grateful in Greenfield

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