Fun Wheelchair Facts and Stories

Since I’ve been busier than usual this week, I decided to write a fun post where I shared fifteen, short interesting wheelchair facts and personal disability stories to put a smile on your face and show you what it’s like to be a disabled teen:

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My first wheelchair was pink and had a picture of cartoon ballerinas as its wheelchair cover. I called her Rosie and used to talk to her like she was my friend when I was younger! Since then I’ve had Oceana, Ruby Electromite (my electric wheelchair), and my current manual wheelchair who is called Selina Kyle. I called her that because of her smooth, silent wheels which purr beneath me while I ride like Catwoman. A wheelchair is more than just an object; I feel emotionally attached to each chair.

Pictures of my wheelchairs

Fun fact: if a rollercoaster ride has a wheelchair lift to bring wheelchairs onto the ride, permanent wheelchair-users are still not allowed to go on it. Why? In case of an emergency, you need to be able to walk off the ride. Yay, accessibility!!??…

Picture of me using a beach chairlift in Malta

Most swimming pools have cool underwater wheelchairs for those that need them. They are designed to be able to ride around underwater on the floor of the pool (and are a lot of fun). I’ve even visited a beach with a chair lift that helps to lower you into the sea, which is extremely useful if you are a disabled beach-lover like me. Other types of wheelchairs that I’ve seen are: wheelchairs for skiing, skydiving, rock-climbing, hiking (they look so cool), and even wheelchairs that travel deep underwater for long scuba-diving trips.

My electric wheelchair is called Ruby Electromite (Electronic Dynamite). I had to get her for school because the campus was so big. I have a licence for her and even had to take a test to make sure that I had the skills to ride her responsibly – much like a driver’s test! Ruby is special because she can zoom around the school like nobody’s business. She has a horn which is useful for getting people’s attention when they’re in my way, and my friends can stand on the back and hold on while I zoom along for an awesome ride. She may need charging every now and then, but she’s still my secret weapon.

Picture of the buttons on Ruby

Unfortunately, Ruby has an on and off button on her. This means that people occasionally turn me off if they want me to stop moving. Rude! I can’t just ‘turn off’ someone’s legs and restrict their movement! People also accidentally turn off the chair when they pass me in the hallway and it takes a little while to turn on again. So everyone else in the hallway needs to be patient while they wait for it to get moving again (although some people aren’t and can also be quite rude about it).

You’re not allowed to use lifts in an emergency. So what do wheelchair-users do? At school, during fire drills, I had to use a special chair that had four handles on either side so that teachers could pick it up (like the kind used to transport Egyptian royalty) and lift me up the stairs. I HATED that chair: my whole body was strapped in so tightly that it felt like a straight-jacket, it was uncomfortable, restricted movement, and made me look ridiculous with four teachers on either side struggling to lift me up. When a child pressed the fire alarm on a dare and condemned me to an entire afternoon of humiliation in that chair. I was NOT. HAPPY.

Photo of the wheelchair area on a bus from www.we-are-sygnal.com

The wheelchair area on buses is frequently used by parents with baby prams. This means that when I sit on the bus, I’m usually next to an adorable baby. Sometimes they even try to grab my knees and touch my wheelchair with their small, chubby hands or try to speak to me in baby language which always puts a smile on my face.

Riding a wheelchair with a flat tire is like trying to pull yourself across the street on your stomach: it’s. hard.

I used to struggle with my sleep patterns: I often fell asleep in class, church, or in the school taxi by accident. I even used to fall asleep while riding my electric wheelchair! I’d jolt awake to find that I had just ridden into a wall or knocked something over. Sometimes it was crazy just how far I pushed myself without waking up. Those were never my proudest moments – at least no one got hurt!

Photo of an electric wheelchair stuck in mud via cbc.ca

If you know electric wheelchairs, you know that dirt and mud are their enemies. I’ve spent hours of my life with my wheelchair stuck deep in mud. This sometimes happened at school in the forest near the play-area. After ages of calling out for help, my second instinct was to… take a nap. Why not? I knew that they’d find me eventually. I was usually found calmly sleeping in the forest, stuck fast, and waiting patiently for help.

Photo of a rollercoaster by Tim Gouw via Pexels.com

I’ll definitely talk about this in more detail in a later post, but my family once visited a rollercoaster park that said that it was wheelchair-accessible on its website. It even had its own wheelchairs which its visitors could rent. However, they wouldn’t allow me to go on any of the rides. When we asked why they had wheelchairs for rent if nothing was wheelchair-accessible, they said that it was so wheelchair-users could ride around the park and watch everyone else having fun. Again: yay, accessibility??!… (This experience was made worse by the fact that I love rollercoaster parks, so we travelled all the way to Germany just to go to this supposedly incredible park for a special birthday treat. We all ended up leaving in tears instead).

If you sit down all of the time, your body will probably protest against you. Exhibit A: pressure sores. Exhibit B: leg pain.

My eldest sister and her boyfriend once took me to a pier near the sea. The wind was so strong there that it pushed my wheelchair for me. It was so much fun – it felt like flying! I went along the pier for ages with my arms out, letting the wind whisk me along. Even when I’m pushing my wheelchair on the street when it’s windy, it occasionally pushes me along for me.

Photo of a Paralympic wheelchair by Atsushi Tomura via Getty Images

When I was younger, I used to think that only people with no legs could ride in racing wheelchairs in the Paralympics. It wasn’t until I sat in one myself that I realised that the rider’s lower legs get tucked into a pouch underneath the chair – that’s why it looks like they’re not there. It’s like your kneeling and sitting on top of your lower legs. You have to lean forwards while you ride it, if you were to sit up straight the imbalance would tip you backwards. And you can’t steer – there is a lever on the chair that you push to the left or right and then it will continue to naturally turn the chair in that direction along the circular track as you ride. In an ordinary manual wheelchair, you hold one wheel still and then move the other to turn. That’s a question I get a lot.

My foot has been rolled over before by an electric wheelchair when I used to be able to walk – it’s not fun. I’ve also rolled over other people’s feet after I started using one myself – that was even worse because it made me feel awfully guilty about hurting them. Controlling a wheelchair of that size isn’t as easy as it looks and it’s bound to happen at least once. Another thing that occasionally happens is that I run over my own foot while I’m driving my electric wheelchair, causing the foot to get pulled back into the wheelchair’s machinery and become stuck inside of it. This is excruciating and it can take a long time to finally pull my foot back out.

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That’s it from me! Which was your favourite fact or anecdote? What’s something that you’ve always wondered about wheelchairs? Feel free to ask in the comments below. I’ll see you all in a week on the 30th for my one-year blogiversary special!

64 thoughts on “Fun Wheelchair Facts and Stories

    1. Thank you 🙂 I’m glad you liked it! Yes, sometimes it took them a while to find me so I simply laid my head back, tilted the wheelchair back using the controls and rested my eyes for a while XD It can be weird the kind of things that we get used to.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. I loved reading all these facts and stories! I loved the pictures of you in the wheelchairs you’ve had and that you named them. Ugh it is really strange of themeparks to have wheelchairs but then not let any wheelchair users on the rides. I’m really sorry about your experience in Germany. I loved that the wind pushed your wheelchair at the pier!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Gaia Athena ❤ I'm happy that you liked the pictures, it was actually hard to find one of me in my old, pink wheelchair. I had that one so long ago! That experience at the rollercoaster park in Germany was awful, their reasoning honestly shocked us. It was as if they actually couldn't comprehend the fact that people in wheelchairs have emotions too and obviously don't just want to ride around watching others having fun while not being able to have any themselves. I want to do a post in the future about rollercoaster parks because we've been to loads in NL, belguim, and England and we've had some CRAZY experiences which raising awareness about is important. Rollercoasters are one of my most favourite things in the world – unortunately it's also probably the place I encounter the most discrimination from people who genuinely see me as less than. Yes, I had the BEST time on that pier! We spent a good half-an-hour there, just letting the wind whisk me along XD Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello,
    I find your article very strong and rare.
    We do not often have the opportunity to read such an experience around a daily wheelchair.
    I discover how much this armchair is a real extension of your body, and how much it inspires in you a very singular attachment.
    Your armchair is like a horse, you adopt it, you tame it, you experience it, you experience yourself and between you there is a very special osmosis.
    In some oral philosophies we say of the body that it is a vehicle, your body is a vehicle with all the complexity linked to your handicap, and I have the feeling from reading you that your chair is your super vehicle, a kind of exo-body that allows you to conquer the world and the other.
    Your article is dazzling because it says with a lot of sincerity and a lot of vitality the whole singular relationship that unites you to your chair.
    In my family I have two close relatives with disabilities who are not currently in wheelchairs, and whose illnesses (Schrumpell-Lorrain / a sort of very rare multiple sclerosis) evolve more or less “wisely”, I know for this which concern them the difficulties they encounter and their daily struggles.
    I learn a lot from them, we learn a lot from you.
    I am sorry for you when I read the many bad experiences related to your daily life in a wheelchair, able-bodied people are not always aware of the chance to be able-bodied, and even less of all the hassles related to disability.
    Maybe from an early age we should be educated at school by making us live a day in a wheelchair in turn, it would be a very enriching experience that would make us laugh at first, which would make us sweat all over the place. a day and think about life in a wheelchair for life
    We all need to grow together …
    Thank you for your testimony, your blog and your approach opens our consciousness, I encourage you to keep your commitment and your vitality
    Take care of your self.
    Bless you.
    Corinne

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Corrine! Yes! That feeling is exactly what it feels like – having a wheelchair is a little like having a horse. Even though it’s just an object, I wouldn’t be able to do much without it, I trust and depend upon it a lot, and we go through a lot together. That’s why my wheelchairs are so important to me. Especially when you’ve been a disabled child like me and most of your able-bodied friends don’t understand you; in that case, your wheelchair can almost feel like a friend. I’m happy that you were able to learn from my experiences! And funny you should mention spending a day in a wheelchair: my school actually did that once! They made each student sit in a wheelchair for a day to see how it felt like because they kept leaving me behind and not understanding how difficult things were for me. Maybe I should write a post about that – it was interesting to see my classmates different reactions to being in a wheelchair. Many of them kept accidently leaving the chair to pick things up from the floor, then they realised that, if they were a real wheelchair-user like me, they wouldn’t be able to do that. It helped them to understand why I needed help. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! I thoroughly enjoyed reading and replying to your message 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I was sad to read about your experience at the roller coaster park! I would have been in tears too!!
    Glad to read about your chairs and how aWEsOMe most are. I never thought about how emotionally attached one could be to their chair, but it makes sense, as many are emotionally attached to their cars. ❤️🦋🌀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, it was quite an emotional experience. Sometimes it can be shocking just how ignorant people can be about what it’s like to actually have a disability. Luckily, my mother saved the day with a last-minute trip to a rollercoaster park in Belguim which was much more accessible and managed to still put a smile on my face for my birthday. I’m happy that you enjoyed reading about my wheelchairs 🙂 Exactly, since I started having to use wheelchairs fairly early-on in my life, they were a big deal to me growing up. They gave me my independance, they allowed me freedom of movement, and I went through so many significant moments together with my wheelchairs such as my operation and my school stage performances so it can be hard not to feel emotionally-attached to them even though they are just objects. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! Have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am sure it was shocking, but glad ypur mother saved the day!
        Yes, I love our blogging community here, as we can all feel the world in a closer way, sharing our own unique experiences.
        I am looking forward to reading more. ❤️🦋🌀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “When we asked why they had wheelchairs for rent if nothing was wheelchair-accessible, they said that it was so wheelchair-users could ride around the park and watch everyone else having fun.”
    😦
    And they even advertised that place as a wheelchair-accessible park, for goodness’ sake. That’s criminal!

    I didn’t know about the Paralympic wheelchair specifics! And there are wheelchairs for rock-climbing? I didn’t know about that either! I looked them up on the net, and watched a couple of videos…goodness, those people must have arms of steel.

    Your mud story was fun LOL. I guess one has to cultivate patience, along with many other skills, when they need to use a wheelchair.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is criminal – now that I think about it, we probably should have reported that place. No other wheelchair-user deserves to go to that place as excited as we were only to be told that they were only welcome in that place to watch other people enjoying themselves. What a horrible experience! I’m happy that I was with my family though. When I’m together with my mother and my sister, I know that I can face whatever discrimination life throws my way. My mother demanded our money back. You should have seen her face! I was so proud of her ❤ I know right? Wheelchair rock-climbers are insanely strong. And brave. It defies comprehension for me how they manage to climb so high with their arms! Exactly, patience is definitely a trait that you need when you wrangle with the disobediant wheelchairs that I've had. Imagine being in an electric wheelchair that has just run out of charge miles away from the nearest charging station… Patience. Definitely patience… XD

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m happy that you liked it ❤ After quite a few serious and deep posts, it was nice to post something fun and simple. Of course, there's always fun or a story in something if you search hard enough 🙂 I hope to meet you too one day – one never knows.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you ❤ Wow, that sounds so cool! You're lucky to have met her. Yeah, it's amazing the amount of adaptations that I've seen. If you have the right resources and vision, there are so many possibilities for wheelchair-users.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am amazed and humbled by your beautiful attitude and incredible writing skills. ❤

    My favorite part is the story about falling asleep in your chair when you are stuck in mud and waiting to be found and rescued. That is grace under pressure!

    When I was six years old, I had surgery to remove my tonsils and adenoids. I was made to stay in the hospital for several days after the surgery, left in a room all by myself. A child-sized wheelchair had been put in the room for me to use to go to the bathroom, in case I was too weak to walk due to the loss of blood.

    I was not too weak, but I used the wheelchair because it was fun. Feeling bored and lonely in my room, I was soon zooming all over the hospital in the little wheelchair, pushing the wheels with my hands as hard and fast as I could go. When I came to a ramp that went down, oh! I felt like I was flying! I am surprised that I did not crash into anyone. I did crash into a wall a few times, but I wasn’t hurt.

    When I was discharged from the hospital, a nurse wheeled me out to my parents’ car. I thought I was going to get to take it home with me! But no, I was put into the car and my new wheelchair friend was left at the hospital. I probably would have named it, if I had been allowed to keep it. I named nearly everything in those days. I might have named it Rocket, because of how fast it could go down ramps. 😀

    My husband has an electric powered wheelchair. He can walk pretty good now, so he does not use it often. About a dozen years ago, he suddenly could not walk at all, not even a single step. The doctors ran many tests and could not find the cause. They knew it was definitely real, because he had something called a Babinski Reflex, which indicates that something in the neurological system is not working properly. They were looking for a brain tumor, but could not find one.

    At first, my husband was given a manual wheelchair, which he wasn’t able to use because of his old neck injuries. Then he was given the power chair. He liked going fast in that! I don’t think he has given it a name, though. I will ask him.

    I love reading your posts. I also enjoyed reading all the comments here. You have some very cool blogger friends. ❤❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Linda Lee. Also for sharing this post, it truly meant a lot to wake up to that this morning! I’m so happy that you enjoy my posts and you’re definitely right – the incredible community that I’ve found through this blog has been so supportive and have helped to see me through so much this year. I loved your wheelchair story! What an adventure! That sounds like it was a ton of fun. And it must have been impactful if you still remember it to this day. You must have seen an electruc wheelchair in action then if your husband used to use one. You can understand how fast and cool they are then. I loved reading and responding to your comment, and I love reading your posts. Keep spreading love and light with your posts. I can’t wait to read more ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo, c’est super de nous voir fait part d’une expérience que la plupart d’entre nous n’imagine même pas, au moins il y a des mots pour comprendre, merci beaucoup, très bonne soirée, bien à vous, Louise Salmone

    Liked by 2 people

    1. (Pardonnez le mauvais français) Merci! C’est pourquoi j’aime tant partager – pour montrer aux gens une nouvelle perspective à laquelle ils n’auraient peut-être pas pensé auparavant. Je suis heureux que vous ayez apprécié cela. Je vous souhaite une bonne soirée aussi. Merci beaucoup d’avoir lu et commenté Louise Salmone. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  7. This is such an awesome post. I absolutely love the names you’ve given your wheels over the years! Very creative! I love the spirit that comes through in your every word! I also very much appreciate the useful info. My 18 year old autistic son recently met a young lady with wheels. She is a childhood brain cancer survivor and, in getting to talk with her on the phone, she seems like an amazing little ball of fire. I want to be sure I know best how to relate to her. This really helps! Thanks and blessings! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ❤ Writing is my passion so I'm happy that you felt that it came through on every word. I'm also glad that you found the information here to be useful, your son's friend sounds delightful. Hopefully this post helped by showing you what things can be like from a wheelchair-user's perspective. You're welcome! And I wish you blessings in return xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I’m happy that you found it to be nicely written and informative since writting style and information were the two factors that I focused the most on for this post. Thank you for reading and commenting! Have a great day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are soooo amazing my teen friends. Just imagine to be able to zoom through the campus on a wheelchair and on the beach and much more 🤗🤗

    Love and blessings 💖🤗

    I don’t know why I am not able to like and comment directly as I normally do🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fascinating as always to me. I’m so disappointed that the roller-coaster park could advertise as being wheel-chair friendly and then not allow you on any of the rides! Outrageous! I love that you name your wheel-chairs too. I also love that there are underwater wheel-chairs! I’d never have considered that – so cool and I’m happy about that, cos being in the water is such a wonderful experience! Thank you, Simone. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 We were disappointed too, it’s crazy that they could fool their visitors like that. Yes, those underwater wheelchairs are a really creative design. I use one when I visit my local swimming pool. The fabric is the same as what most swimming pool toys are made from. I love being in the water – it’s probably my favourite place to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, what a throwback seeing the old wheelchairs! I’d completely forgot about them until seeing all the photos. ‘Yay, accessibility!!??…’ That summarised that situation well! You know the Germany rollercoaster park STILL boils my blood ugh. I didn’t know that memory with Tams and Tom but then again I wasn’t there! Nice to hear about it ^.^ Love the cute story with babies and buses 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took a looong time to find pictures of all of the old wheelchairs – it feels like I had them ages ago. Oh yes, I forgot that you were still in Australia at that time. That memory was one of my favourite ones from last year – it truly was so much fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun post! I love how you add an element of humour but make it informative at the same time. It’s wonderful how you have names for all your wheelchairs! I loved Ruby the most, she has such a cool name! I used to name all my pencils when I was younger.
    It’s sad the park advertised something without having it. I would have been disappointed too. That chair lift sounds incredible! I think my favourite fact was learning more about the Paralympic participants. I didn’t know that before.
    As always, beautiful graphics and an incredible post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ❤ I'm happy that you seem to enjoy my style of writing. I love Ruby too – the idea for her last name was actually given to me by my close childhood friend at the time, and I named her Ruby because she's red. Yes, the Paralympic wheelchairs are really cool. It's incredible how there are so many wheelchairs designed for different things. Paralympic wheelchairs are specifically made to go faster – that's why you can't really steer with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Simome, what an amazing article! Wheelchairs have certainly come a long way in the last 20 years! I remember an old electric chair that you had to open the battery and add water. It would spew battery acid all over you and the floor. I was happy when they came out with sealed battery models.

    Sorry about the amusement park. Their reasoning seems a little goofy to me! Maybe a written complaint would get some action! Good for your mother for speaking up! Have a great day! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, I’d never even thought about old electric wheelchairs! That sounds awful, I’m definitely happy for the technological advancements that have been made to it recently. Now there are so many functions – it can lift up, tilt backwards, etc. Since writing this post, I’ve realised that we probably should have oficially complained about the park. It’s a shame that we didn’t think of it at the time. Have a great day too! ❤

      Like

  13. Ah, so close to your one year blogiversary! Incredible. I can’t wait! This was very interesting to read. As always, thank you for sharing your perspective and enlightening us when it comes to some of your experiences. I love that you’ve named your wheelchairs and can definitely understand the connection you feel. After all, it’s you and the chair zipping along and getting through the days together!

    “Most swimming pools have cool underwater wheelchairs for those that need them. They are designed to be able to ride around underwater on the floor of the pool (and are a lot of fun). I’ve even visited a beach with a chair lift that helps to lower you into the sea, which is extremely useful if you are a disabled beach-lover like me. Other types of wheelchairs that I’ve seen are: wheelchairs for skiing, skydiving, rock-climbing, hiking (they look so cool), and even wheelchairs that travel deep underwater for long scuba-diving trips.”

    Fact number three really interested me. I had no idea underwater wheelchairs existed, nor that you’d be able to use them in the pool or at the beach. Every place should have this option to widen accessibility for all folks. That beach chairlift looks incredibly cool. You deserve to have just as much fun as anybody else without worrying about being restricted. I’m sorry about all the negative incidents at theme parks. That wasn’t fair. As time progresses, that will become increasingly unacceptable. I see you’ve been to Malta also! How was your trip? I’ve never been, despite this being half my heritage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, I’m very excited! It feels as if my blog has come a long way in just a year and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go next. Exactly, because I spend so much time with my chairs and depend upon them so much I can’t help but feel at least a little bit connected to them. Yeah, I also didn’t know that pool chairs existed until me and my family were offered one at our local pool. They’re really clever – you simply wheel them into the pool and they work just as well underwater. They seem to be quite common here in the Netherlands but I hope that other countries have more of them too. I hope that those incidents will be seen as unacceptable more and more too. I’m definitely going to talk more about being a wheelchair-user at rollercoasterparks in a later post because they are the places that I’ve recieved the most discrimination. Oh, Malta was so much fun. It was the hottest country in Europe at the time that we went (so hot!) But the people were nice, it was breath-takingly beautiful and also surprisingly wheelchair-accesible.

      Like

    1. I’m happy that you found it to be fun. I so rarely do short and fun posts anymore so this was a nice little break from my usual. 🙂 I thought that you might like the babies fact! I’m delighted that you enjoyed that one! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A fellow blogger, Linda Lee Quixote, connected you to me. How fun to meet you and what an inspiration you are. I loved all of your vignettes but enjoyed especially when the wind on the beach pushed your wheelchair.

    Thanks for educating me in such an entertaining way. You are certainly a victor, not a victim!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, I saw that Linda shared this post. I’m happy that it led to us meeting. Thank you so much for your kind compliments ❤ That anecdote was one of my favourites, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. You're welcome, it means a lot that you were able to learn from my experiences. Have a lovely day!

      Liked by 1 person

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