Blue has a post up that deals with expectations about people in wheelchairs. Here’s her description of a “humorous” video:
So here’s some YouTube video of a Brazilian Candid-Camera-type show where pranks are pulled on unsuspecting passersby. This five-and-a-half minute clip shows a man in a clunky manual wheelchair at the corner of a busy urban intersection. After enlisting someone to help push him across the street, the man stages a tumble out of his chair in the middle of the crosswalk. People rush to help, dragging him fully across the street and attempting to help him into the chair again. At that point the man stands up on his own, revealing that the whole drama and his disability are a prank. Over and over again, throughout the clip, these tricked pedestrians turn violent with the actor, and several times he runs to avoid real injury and assault.
Blue later says:
I can’t help wondering how someone with legitimate impairments would be treated in the exact same situation, given that we sometimes get assistance thrust upon us unwanted, and given that not all people in wheelchairs are completely unable to stand or even walk.
This is a timely post for me. At this point, due to my limited ability to walk, I’m virtually apartment-bound. I can stand, and I can walk for short distances. But those distances add up-my body remembers how much walking I’ve done on a given day. If I do too much, I will pay for it in pain, exhaustion, and less ability to do anything for days. J has the day off work on Monday, and had just about talked me into going somewhere that would require a lot of walking. I’d have to use a wheelchair, and I don’t know if I can do it.
Most of my guilt surrounds those who use wheelchairs and who cannot move like I can. Who am I to be using a wheelchair when they must use one? But Blue’s post brings up another worry: who am I to use a wheelchair when doing so may hurt people who are obligated to use wheelchairs? When I need something, I can stand up. If my partner needs a break, I can walk for a bit. When people see that, aren’t they going to make assumptions about all people with disabilities? Those assumptions won’t be positive.
Update: wording changed to give the impression my head isn’t shoved up my butt