Author: Sheri Denkensohn-Trott
It has been ages since we attended a large gathering. So, we were thrilled to attend the wedding of one of my former interns to the best friend of one of my friends. I guess you could say I was the matchmaker. The ceremony was in a church and then the reception was at a delightful coffeehouse. We ate delicious food and had a few drinks! Despite feeling old, we got our second wind and even went to the after party.
The after party was at a great pub that was decorated like an old library. There was a live singer, and per usual I was out dancing and singing away with other members of the wedding group. A great time. As the night went on, we all started to get tired and slowly exited the bar in small groups.
And then, as you get used to in wheelchair world, just when you want to go home the unexpected happens. The door to my van opened with no problem but the lift did not come out. What does that mean? That we could not get into the van to go home. At this point folks were gathering around, and everyone had their idea how to fix the problem. Not surprisingly, those who had imbibed were very eager to lift my 365-pound chair into the van. I was able to convince them that it was not a good idea.
That’s when the quick thinking comes in. As a wheelchair user, it always seems that something happens at the worst time. You are either tired, somewhere far away from where you need to be, or stuck with a chair that won’t work for some unknown reason. And there is no one that can solve the problem except you. And we did. We had two solutions.
First, one of my friends called her mother who happens to use a wheelchair and asked her to come pick us up. I would get in the wheelchair van on the lift and Tony’s chair could be folded up and he could sit in the seat. While that was in motion, Tony remembered that we have a folding ramp in the back of our van that would likely make it easy to roll from the curb into the van to get home and then exit the van with the ramp. One of our friends got the ramp from the back of the van and voilà! Problem solved.
Many of the individuals marveled at how we stayed calm and managed to solve the problem. I guess as wheelchair users and individuals with disabilities we take it for granted, but we are problem solvers every day. It is part of having a disability. While sometimes annoying (especially when you are out in the cold) in the end it is a positive characteristic. Stay calm, think about options, and then figure it out. That’s the best way to go.