Wheelchair Big Adventures

Wheelchair Big Adventures

Harry tried out his first wheelchair and my feelings about it all were nothing like I thought they were going to be…

I still remember the first time a wheelchair was mentioned in the same sentence as Harry’s name, it was 3.5 years ago in hospital while he was still medically recovering from his traumatic brain injury. Our lovely OT was asking us to consider whether the house, that just a week before Harry’s accident we had been approved to buy, would be suitable for a wheelchair. We went through the motions of showing her plans so she could measure door widths etc etc, but I was totally disengaged from what was happening. Wheelchair? In the same sentence as my big, strong walking-at-11-months boy? Is this really happening?

And yet, 3.5 years later, I was the one calling our physio and requesting an appointment to look at wheelchairs for Harry. And feeling, well, oddly fine about it all. This is unexpected…

I’m not trying to sugar coat the experience because in the lead up to our appointment, I certainly still had a few stings in my heart but, as it turns out, my expectation of how I might feel was not a representation of how I did in fact feel.

Every week on our way to see Harry’s physio, we drive past our state’s Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association and out the front is this banner…

Paraquad banner

The image shows a large banner visible from the road that says “Don’t drink and drive” with an image of a wheelchair below the text. And the more time that passes, the more uncomfortable (and actually quite irritated) that banner makes me feel. Depicting a wheelchair as an image to instil fear feels to me like the complete antithesis of what a wheelchair actually represents to people who use a wheelchair for mobility. And again, I go back to wondering why I don’t feel the way I expected to about Harry’s impending wheelchair.

3.5 years ago, I didn’t know how to reconcile the image of a wheelchair with the image of a future I had created for Harry in my mind. Going from having a fully mobile typical child to discussing wheelchairs in what felt like the blink of an eye is an extraordinary leap for one’s mind to make. But perhaps I have made that leap. Perhaps between the busyness of therapy and doctor’s appointments there has been a small yet seismic shift in me.

I want this wheelchair. I’m excited about this wheelchair. This wheelchair is going to mean Harry is…

  • Empowered – we will help him learn to self-propel so he can go where he wants, when he wants
  • Included – when we’re out, Harry will be able to pull right up to the table and enjoy babycinos with the grown ups rather than being a bit to the side in his pram
  • Growing up – he’s 4.5 years old now and it’s time to leave the pram with the baby things

In the evening after our appointment Harry was watching TV while I was getting dinner ready for him and Tallulah. I heard the latest episode of Humpty’s Big Adventure come on in the background. The next minute Harry is squealing excitedly and looking at me whilst pointing furiously at the TV. And take a look at what was on…

Wheelchair Basketball

Yes, that’s an episode of Humpty’s Big Adventure on our TV where the kids are playing basketball, in wheelchairs! Harry was beside himself with excitement! Just a few hours earlier he’d had his first go in a wheelchair and here were a bunch of kids burning around a basketball court playing his most favourite game, in wheelchairs!

I grabbed his talker and chatted to him a bit while he was intently watching Humpty. I said things like wheelchair, cool, fun, fast, basketball, go go go.

Wheelchair, cool, fun, fast…

Yes, Harry, your wheelchair is going to be COOL (Jamie and I are already brainstorming pimp my ride style mods), FUN and (knowing you, my little speed demon) FAST!

And I’m good with the sound of all of those words in a sentence together. All of them.

5 thoughts on “Wheelchair Big Adventures

  1. Yes M, exactly how we feel. Plus, people smile at him and teenagers in Rundle Mall exclaim how cool his wheels are. The chair banishes the stares. His buddy named our chair, and his self esteem went up too, as did the pride of the buddy’s parents. Rim stickers with bespoke lettering can be purchased from motorbike product websites. Sick rims, Harry!


    1. That is so awesome to hear Carol! I just want it to hurry up and arrive now, we’re all so ready. Love that it’s been such a positive experience for you all! Yep, we’re totally up for some sick rims, thanks for the recommendation!


  2. Hey you beautiful people, just FYI… Spinergy wheels are the only way forward ;p
    Have a wonderful Christmas and I think Henry will be happy to show Harry some tricks with the chair when Harry is up to it. xxx


    1. Ooh, thanks for the wheel recommendation- we absolutely need some pimp wheels 😂
      And yes, I have no doubt that Harry would love to learn some tricks – all the good ones that I’m sure the physios won’t show him!
      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and we hope to see you again soon x


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