Today, I sped in my wheelchair across campus to get to work right after class. On my way, I passed a tall slender guy who was on his way somewhere with his friends, taking a few steps at a time with the help of crutches. As I passed him he yelled, "Cheater." I'm sure it was only a joke, but I almost revolted by saying what came to my mind initially, "I would trade using crutches knowing that I'll get better in time, over permanence in a wheelchair, anytime. At least you get to go upstairs slowly and reach things in high places if you really wanted to. I don't think having to get used to getting around in a wheelchair for the rest of my life is really considered cheating." Of course, I didn't because it wasn't really a big deal. There's no sense in making someone feel bad for a joke where no ill will was intended.
But I am curious what people must think of me, someone young and healthy looking, getting out of a car that is parked in disabled parking. I often feel eyes gazing intently on me as I'm going around, wondering how I could look the way I do and need a wheelchair. I wonder if they just think I'm lazy and pretending like I need a wheelchair. I do love the ease of finding a parking spot (for the most part, unless we're at a big event). But the reality is, I really do need these parking spots, otherwise, I can't get out of my car because they isn't enough space between cars parked side by side for me to get out into my wheelchair. This is one of the greatest blessings for someone like me who is in a wheelchair. It also is a safety net for me so that when I go to and from a store in inclement weather, I run less risk of getting hurt because of the shorter distance in between. It's pure logical and I hope most people understand that.
It's taken some time to get used to and there are some rough points, but I'm so very thankful for my wheelchair and I'm thankful for those little things that make my life in a wheelchair just a little bit easier (like parking lots). For those with crutches out there, I would love to be in your position, so be thankful. However, wheelchairs definitely beat crutches! :)