THE NEW YORK TIMES
Updated: Jun 25
Because I can walk short distances, strangers judge me for using a wheelchair. But it allows me to be the parent my active toddler needs.
Most mornings, my 2-year-old makes a request to “ride Mama dinosaurs.” What he’s really asking is if he can sit with me in my wheelchair on a visit to our local science museum, which has a paved trail through dense woods with incredible life-size dinosaur replicas. Many weekends we arrive early and join the crowd of families waiting for the doors to open. My enthusiastic toddler pumps his fists, trying to incite a juvenile riot: “We want Tyrannosaurus rex! We want dinosaurs!”
When our son was born, I had a tired, old manual wheelchair, which I rarely used. The chair didn’t support my body the way that I needed, and it was only comfortable for a few minutes at a time. I needed to be pushed by a companion. My disabilities — Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and a secondary neurological condition, dysautonomia — make sitting upright for more than a few minutes, or standing still for more than 30 seconds, impossible. If you spotted me on the street, though, you’d never know that I need a wheelchair. When I walk, I am usually agile and quick; it’s just that I can’t do it consistently or over long distances. keep reading.....