Becoming a Wheelchair User

Hi my name is Samira, I am 37 years old and I speak five languages fluently. I have a rare genetic disease, I became a wheelchair user when I was 26.

I remember when I used to HATE it. I was frustrated and I was overwhelmed because I didn't know why this was happening to ME! I used to walk to go to work , enjoy life , I just couldn't understand why…it was very hard to wake up and to get into that thing again?"

I can't even count how many times I have heard «I’m so glad I don’t have to be in a wheelchair» or «You are too good looking for a wheelchair» or people thinking I can’t handle anything. It makes the wheelchair user wonder why he needs to sit in this wheelchair … or many people feel an awkward struggle with choosing their words around me. There’s no need to alter your language. It’s okay to say, “Let’s take a walk”.

However, dealing with other people will probably be more of a challenge. Also dealing with a world that will be harder to navigate. But these are things that can be overcome because there is an entire community of people that are in my situation that are dealing with this every day.

One day I came across a quote from C.S. Lewis that says, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”. It was either adapt and adjust and be willing to get uncomfortable or miss out on this amazing life.

But the last thing I needed was sympathy – and worse, pity – it doesn’t make things better , it only makes abled people feel better about themselves.

I started of looking to my wheelchair as an adversary, I began to look at it as an advantage as a tool of freedom. Now he is part of me. It's an accessory nothing more. A wheelchair is not confining. It is a mobility device, it gives me something, and takes nothing away , I am so grateful for my chair because it's like my legs that allows me to get around and live my life fully.

Life has many obstacles to overcome. Since becoming a wheelchair user, I have realised that it is no longer possible to just leave the house and head to my destination.Will there be steps at the entrance? Will the street outside be wheelchair friendly? Will there be a lift? Does that café/restaurant/shop even have space for me to manoeuvre a wheelchair around?

The list goes on…It's almost impossible to go through life without experiencing some kind of failure... I knew My life won’t be the same, but it can be beautiful. Not the way I envisioned it, but still a beautiful life in which I can be active and nothing can stop me.

People need to understand that wheelchair users are people like everyone else whether they are good looking or not should not be discussed. Naturally, we don’t ask an able-bodied person that you are good looking, one might feel wired.

Dear able bodies, I can do anything you can do, I’m just in the seated position. So long story short. We are all just people.