19 Things I could have never done #withoutmywheelchair

July is disability pride month, and what better way to celebrate than to celebrate my wheelchair! I recently got a new chair (her name is Edna) after a long, difficult process and I’m excited about all the adventures she’ll take me on in the next several years.

Wheelchairs are commonly seen by abled people as a sad thing. Something you’re stuck in or bound to. But Edna is (as were all the wheelchairs I’ve had over the years) my freedom. My chair is part of me, an extension of my own body. It’s the difference between a life trapped at home in bed or a life I get to fully live and experience and love.

So for disability pride month 2019, here are 19 things I could have never done #WithoutMyWheelchair!

1. Made one of my oldest friendships

Karly and Sarah, two high school age girls, sitting next to each other in their wheelchairs. Karly has short blonde hair, glasses, and a green tshirt with a blue crossbody purse. Sarah has shoulder length brown hair, glasses, a blue floral tank top, and a shopping bag in her lap.
Please enjoy this throwback of high school Karly and Sarah

I met Sarah in high school, but without my wheelchair, I could have never attended school. I would’ve had to been homeschooled. So, I’d be out one of my oldest and closest friends today. 

2. Caught fireflies in the backyard

3. Played during recess

Every kid loved recess, and I was definitely no exception. My wheelchair helped me zoom and play with the other kids.I played tag, hide and seek, soccer. I use the term soccer loosely, but I loved kicking a ball around when I was a kid.

4. Watched Paramore on stage at Warped Tour

5. Adventured in Disney World

Karly in her wheelchair in front of a butterfly topiary in Epcot. She has pink hair, black glasses, and is wearing a brightly colored button down shirt with white shorts and sneakers.

Going to Disney is one of my favorite things to do and I nearly cried when I bought my very first annual pass. Even if I rented a chair, it would be nearly impossible to go to Disney because I have such specific seating needs to have balance and tolerable pain levels. Also, because that’s too expensive for me to afford on a regular basis. My chair means I’ve had countless magical moments in the parks.

6. Gone on a shopping spree from Make A Wish for my 18th birthday

7. Accepted my first job offer

Without my wheelchair, I could have never gotten hired at my first job. I couldn’t have gone to the office every day or done my work. I’m not able to sit up in my bed. So, even if my first job had allowed me to work from home like my current job, I wouldn’t have been able to do the work without my wheelchair.

8. Gone to a Harry Potter marathon in theaters before the midnight release of the final movie

9. Met the cast of my favorite childhood show

A few months ago I went to Megacon with my best friend and met the cast of Boy Meets World. I gush about this day any chance I get. It was a literal childhood dream come true and I never could’ve gone if I couldn’t get out of bed. Plus, my wheelchair meant I got to skip lines, so add that to my list of reasons I love sitting in this pink tank.

10. Picked up my best friends at the airport the very first time they came to visit me

11. Gone to any of the countless concerts I’ve been to

Experiencing live music is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve always felt at home at shows and while a lot of venues are crap at accessibility, my chair means I get to go at all. Last year I saw my favorite band since I was 10 with my best friend and we had the best night. Nearly lost my voice, definitely cried. I was in a loaner chair. And okay, that chair I kind of hated at the time. Only because I didn’t fit in it and it wasn’t MINE and I was always in pain. But let me tell you, I’ll forever be grateful for that chair because of that one night. A loaner wheelchair is better than no wheelchair.

12. Watched the sunrise over the ocean

13. Gave a successful presentation my last semester of college

In college, we all had to take a capstone class before graduating. It was a semester long project where you work with a local business and solve a real problem they experienced. You then present it at the end to your classmates, professors, and local business owners interested in our school’s graduates. I was terrified at the time but ended up receiving special recognition and our group received ‘best overall presentation’. Genuinely one of my proudest moments, and all because I was able to attend classes on campus.

14. Killed a boring day in the dollar aisle of Target

15. Enjoyed years worth of evening ‘walks’

It sounds so small and insignificant, but imagine never having it. Imagine never getting to walk around your town at sunset. Watching the sky change colors, feeling a summer breeze, listening to the bugs chirping. Also, petting all the neighbor’s dogs going on a walk.

Karly in her wheelchair. She has short buzzed hair and glasses. She's wearing a pink tshirt with black cats on it and jeans. She's in a park and trees wrapped in lights are behind her.

16. Tried and failed an escape room

17. Gone to my first Pride parade

A couple of years ago I went to my first pride with my friends. We laughed, took so many pictures, hugged strangers, and watched the longest parade I think I’ve ever seen. It was a day full of love and pure joy, and one of my fondest memories since moving to Florida.

18. Visited my friend in the hospital after her surgery

19. Found and adopted my cats at the shelter

My cats are my babies, and I’ll never forget the days I went to the shelter and found them. They’re part of the family, and it was important to me that I was able to go and be there to adopt them. To sign the papers myself and bring them home with me. I’d still love them just as much if my mom had brought them home to me, but I’m so grateful that I got to rescue my furry children.

I hope that if you’ve ever felt sad at the sight of my wheelchair, you remember that my chair is something I literally couldn’t live without. I’m disabled with or without it, but with it, my life is immeasurably better.

If you’re disabled, what are some of the things you couldn’t have done without your chair? What would your life be like without it?
Share your own stories on Instagram/Twitter/Etc with the tag #withoutmywheelchair! It’s time the world sees our chairs as something to celebrate rather than something to pity.

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