Ryan recently posted this article, wheellove.ca/10-thing-we-learned-from-dating-someone-in-a-wheelchair
on his Facebook page. We found this article to be pretty hilarious and very true. Its a quick read and for those other wheel wives or husbands who follow along with us you will completely relate to this article, for the others it may open your eyes to what its like to either date or be married to someone in a wheelchair.
After Ryan got hurt it definitely was a learning curve for us. How to go from a relationship where your partner was walking to now having life be completely different. It most definitely opens your eyes to how this world is made for walkers. Like I said in my previous blog post it is incredibly frustrating to us that we are in the year 2016 and accessibility in this country is not the greatest.
The one thing I expected to happen but didn't realize of how much it really would happen was all the stares. In our small town of Goodhue where we actually have 2 other individuals besides Ryan who have some degree of paralysis, you don't get the stares. This community lifts each other up in times of need and the love and support we received was a blessing. When we started to branch out of our bubble of small town we got the stares, the comments and the curiosity. Ryan has experienced more times then he can count on both hands a stranger coming up to him shaking his hand and thanking him for his service to our country. Majority of people think that Ryan is a veteran, maybe because he is in good shape and is young but we always find this kind of funny. The hard part is when you get the stares from adults and they just continue staring. Its a freaking wheelchair people, really have you never seen one before! With kids its expected they are curious and we usually hear them ask their parents whats wrong with Ryan. Even with our 8 month old nephew, he can already tell that there is something different about Ryan. His eyes usually love to watch him wheel around and his chair is this extra cool thing to play with, plus the rides on his lap are an added bonus for him and for all our nieces and nephews. With our friends who have kids they aren't afraid to ask questions and this we most definitely encourage. It is interesting to hear what questions they have and what their minds are thinking, but answering their questions helps them learn and hopefully will teach them to not look at people differently just because they have a disability. We try to teach everyone we know that Ryan is Ryan, just because he is in a chair doesn't mean you have to treat him differently. We also want to encourage adults to ask questions. Maybe you feel more comfortable asking me then asking Ryan and that usually is the case, but ask questions. We aren't afraid to talk about his accident or how he does things. "The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values." Willam Ralph Inge
Another situation that happens more then it should is when we park in the handicapped parking spot. Before getting out of our truck boy do we ever get the worlds dirtiest looks, comments and stares. Why would two young, healthy people dare take up a handicapped parking spot. How dare they use their grandparents handicapped tag. We have had some very interesting moments. One individual actually took a photo with his cell phone while Ryan was sitting in his truck and said the police will like that. Ryan just smiled and waved. Another instance we had when we pulled up to our parking spot at a golf course for a wedding and some people standing outside just shook their heads at us and were mouthing how awful it was that we were parking there. Boy did they eat their words when they saw Ryan wheel around his truck as we headed inside. It is so easy to judge a book by its cover and our society seems to be getting worse at this. Initially these types of instances were really hard and boy was I fully ready to teach these individuals a lesson, and now, yes its hard but we just learn to shake our heads. People can be very ignorant at times and you learn to just let it roll off. It has definitely opened our eyes to not judge others.
For those who know Ryan best they don't even notice his chair anymore, he is just Ryan. I had a friend one time tell me when she saw a picture of Ryan standing that it was weird to see him like that because she is so used to him sitting. Its nice to see people treat Ryan just like a normal person now versus when he got hurt and forever it was Ryan in the wheelchair, were some people were treating him like he was incapable of doing things. Over our 6 years of being married I have learned that Ryan is fully capable of doing way more then what I thought he could. He usually doesn't ask for help because he is to stubborn to, and I don't always offer because well tough love is good sometimes. That may sound cruel but Ryan has to do things on his own because he has learn how to. Just like how I had to learn how to do some "man" jobs around the house and he had to learn to do some "womens" jobs to. We have learned to do things together and the things he can't do I take on the responsibility of or have wonderful family, friends and neighbors wiling to help us out. One of the things I do miss is having a spouse that can change a light bulb. When you are short and have to drag the giant ladder out to change them it becomes a pain, usually parts of our house our in the dark because it never fails as soon as I change one, the next day another goes out so I tend to wait on changing them. Another thing that never happens in our house is a clean floor. We have hard wood floors and I'm constantly cleaning them from all the wheelchair marks. Winter is usually the worst. But those wheelchair marks would be missed if Ryan wasn't here, even though I would never admit that to Ryan. Those are a sign of a well lived in house and a sign of my best friend near by.
Marriage itself is an adventure and as we continue our life together we know that new adventures in our marriage will unfold. I hope that this post will encourage all of you to ask questions, to treat others with respect and kindness and to hopefully open your eyes to what my marriage is like to that handsome guy on wheels.