Adventures in a loaner chair
Currently I’m typing this post from the comfort (lol not so much) of a loaner chair. It’s a bright red Jazzy, perfect for any grandma. Or apparently me, who can no longer rely on their own chair to get them to and from work. I’ve been talking about my struggles with a dying wheelchair a ton, especially on Twitter. I’ve had this loaner for a couple of weeks know and I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to and what it’s been like adventuring around in a chair that isn’t mine!
First of all I want to make it abundantly clear how grateful I am to even have this loaner. The company building my new chair had no loaners to give me. My mom reached out to MDA and through them I was able to borrow the trusty Jazzy until I get a chair of my own. It was definitely a lucky break amidst a slew of very unlucky breaks. So all complaints aside, I’m happy to have a working chair for now.
Originally I was only really planning on using it for two days. I assumed I’d be getting my new chair soon enough that I wouldn’t need to worry about taking it to work, but I had two things I’d been planning to go to for several months. I definitely knew I my held-together-with-duct-tape chair wasn’t going to handle all day trips.
It was looking grim for a few days but the stars aligned and I managed to get Jazzy the loaner chair just in time to go to my first planned event and one of my favorite days of the year:
Come Out With Pride Orlando!
Last year was my first time going, and I knew that I couldn’t miss it. There were definitely some struggles this year, but all in all, it was still a really incredible day and I’m so thankful I was able to go. Keep in mind, at this point I hadn’t gone anywhere other than work in over a month and a half, and had been limited to only very small, local trips to places like target since the summer. So as stoked as I was to be going to something so special and fun, my excitement levels were multiplied by like 20.
My best friend, Lexi, and I got there about 15 minutes into the parade. I don’t think we could have timed it worse, because everywhere was blocked off either by a barricade or a sea of people. Somehow we managed to get up front so we could both see, though! But it was definitely a lucky break. The parade is seemingly unending. It’s 2+ hours and while I love every minute of it, about halfway through I start to question if I’m going to survive. Being surrounded by people screaming, all the cars, and the heat is a lot to deal with. Especially when you’re in a wheelchair, because once you’re in the crowd, you’re probably not getting out. It was amazing, though.
While I didn’t have a perfect view I still had a ton of fun and a smile plastered on my face.
The people around us were really sweet. Lexi and I were joking that everyone was decorating me. Beads would get passed back and someone would help put them on me without me having to ask. It was a simple little reminder of what a kind, supportive community it is.
Going into the park after the parade was such a wild time because it was so packed. Last year we wandered earlier in the day when it wasn’t as busy. This year we showed up for pure chaos. I’ve always found Lake Eola to be pretty accessible and easy to navigate, but it’s a whole other story with that many people.
They moved the marketplace from the grassy area it was in last year to the street. We never found a curb cut I could get to so we missed all of it. We ended up just walking around for a few hours and not really doing much because we couldn’t find a way to actually get anything. My balance in Jazzy is definitely off. Lexi had to hold my shoulders pretty often to keep me from tipping over. I have trouble lifting my arms, too, so she also fed me fries while we wandered. Just one of the many reasons that punk is my best friend.
A few days later, I had tickets to see my favorite band – Good Charlotte.
I was an emo kid through and through, and Good Charlotte got me through countless hard times. I hadn’t seen them in several years and the second I saw the tour date I knew I couldn’t miss it.
They played at Hard Rock Live where I first saw them, which only made me more emo and nostalgic. Luckily there was a pretty huge wheelchair accessible section so I was able to see the stage easily. Lexi loved them just as much as I did, so we were stoked to gush and relive our teenage years. The second they got on stage we just looked at each other with giant goofy grins. We pretty much lost our minds.
Not gonna lie, I was pretty uncomfortable all night in Jazzy. But getting to hear songs that undoubtedly changed my life made me forget for a few hours. All I knew was that I was sitting with my best friend screaming lyrics that I grew up singing. I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I had tried. Also, we both definitely cried. So, there’s that. I could gush about that night for way too long, so I’m gonna cut myself off here but it was perfect and exactly what I needed.
So now for the bummer.
The next day when I got out of work, I found out insurance had denied my new wheelchair after everything. I’ll get into that another day when I know more, but I’ve had to start taking Jazzy to work now. Actually, I’m just using it full time now. My poor dying chair now lives in the corner of my dining room and it’s a sad sight to see.
It definitely hasn’t been easy – I don’t fit in Jazzy well. It’s too wide, which means I struggle to balance. My feet barely reach the footrests, so that only makes the balance thing worse. The armrests don’t support me the way mine used to, so I have to sit crooked while I sit at my desk. By the end of my shift my neck and back are aching way more than they usually do. Honestly, it just barely works, so I’m making it work. That’s all I can do, y‘know?
I hate to be negative, but the truth is it’s not a great situation to be in. But also, I’m not all that surprised by it either. So I’ll keep trying to get a new chair but until then I’ll be out here adventuring in my lil grandma Jazzy.