Some Wheelchair Users Can Walk

As part of invisible awareness week I would like to raise awareness to wheelchair users with an invisible illness and point out some of the things we come across. I apologize if this comes across as a bit ranty.

One of the things that annoys me the most about having an invisible illness is strangers coming up to me and telling me that I don’t need my wheelchair because they saw me stand up or they saw me walk to my chair from the car. I have been called a fraud and told I’m faking it too many times to count just because I’m not paralysed.


It’s not that difficult to get your head around. Some people use them because it’s dangerous for them to walk because they pass out or collapse, others use it because walking is painful and causes dislocations (me for example). There are many reasons why a person uses a chair but the biggest thing is, if you do not know this person then why they use a chair is none of your business.

Also if you see someone park in a disabled parking space and they display a blue badge but get out the car and look healthy and walk in DO NOT question them. If they are displaying a disabled parking badge then they are entitled to use that space. End of. You don’t know how painful it is for that person to walk. You don’t know what invisible illnesses they are suffering from. I was harassed by a man who didn’t think I needed my badge and shouldn’t be parked in that space and he waited for me to come out of the shop to tell me so. It was pretty intimidating and no one should have to go through that.

I wouldn’t go up to a random person and ask them personal questions so why does it become supposedly acceptable when that person has mobility equipment.

I constantly get asked

“Were you in an accident?”

“What happened?”

“Why do you need a wheelchair”

by people I have never seen before and will never see again.

Another thing, young people get illnesses too. Young people may need to use a wheelchair. It is not something you suddenly are entitled to when you hit an old age.

Some old people get so offended when they see me in my chair like I haven’t earned the right to use one because I haven’t reached a certain age. I’m forever getting snide comments about how I’m too young to have a wheelchair. I didn’t choose to need one and I’m pretty sure with all my pain I have earned the right to use one.

And lastly pretty people can be disabled too. The amount of people I know including myself that have been told we are to pretty to need a wheelchair is ridiculous. What do the two things have to do with each other? It’s nice to know people think I’m pretty but I didn’t realise only unattractive people could be disabled.

 So next time you see someone in a wheelchair and you want to make small talk, talk about the weather or something like you would with every other person not about what’s wrong with them.



16 thoughts on “Some Wheelchair Users Can Walk

  1. I have heard all of those, especially the too young to be in a wheelchair. The look of shock from some people as I stand up and realign my pelvis is just funny sometimes. It does wear a bit thin after a while though constantly being questioned about it by complete strangers.

  2. I’ve had a couple of strangers come up to me and ask, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how do you…you know… [stage whisper] HAVE SEX?” I’m torn between telling them it’s none of their damn business and they wouldn’t ask some random walkie in the street the same question (and anyway, I’m an unmarried Catholic so I’m not having sex) and asking them if they never got told about the birds and the bees.

  3. I pulled up into a disabled parking bay. The windows were down and a rather large bloke from the other side of the car park shouted “you’re not disabled”. I was at this point still in the car and for all he knew, may not have any legs!
    He came strolling by just at the point I’d manage to get out of the car and push myself up on my crutches (I also need a wheelchair at times). I looked him straight in the eye and said “and you’re not fat are you?!” He scurried off rather embarrassed as quickly as he could.

    I usually retort in the above way but some days, when you’ve had a really bad time of it, things like that can really upset you. Nobody but a wheelchair user has the faintest idea how hard it is to negotiate pathways, how much further out you have to go just to get across a road because there are not dropped curbs both sides of the road.

    Don’t get me started on getting round some shops!

  4. I don’t use any assistive devices, but do have a handicapped placard, and am constantly harassed, so everything you said resonated with me.

    I also like what you said about pretty people being in wheelchairs 😉 Reminded me of “Push Girls”

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  8. Excellent piece, totally agree with most of what you have said, all those points are incredibly important to most of us wheelchair users, when you need to use the wheelchair, other people have no idea the level of freedom it gives you from pain.. The point people forget is, of course most wheelchair users can get up and out of them.. ‘How the **** do they think we got in them in the first place…!’

  9. Well written piece and thanks for bringing this to the attention of the many ignorant able bodied folk; although many will not read unless we all share Beth’s message within the social network!
    I’m diagnosed with Sensory Motor Neuropathy Primary Axonal it has no cure or medication; probably be in a wheelchair myself sooner than later as walking is very painful for me.
    Being 55; over 6ft 8″ & broad built but using hand controls in my car, I also get comments until I peel myself out of my car to the shock of many mouthy opponents, who slither away very quickly
    My biggest complaint is the Carer’s or Able bodied partners of any disabled person that park in Disability Parking when they can walk perfectly well, they make my blood boil!!

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  11. It all happened so quick, yet i miss dancing, going out to the local, and friends, I worked as a stone mason until I started to lose lots of weight then came the black outs and eventually confusion unable to move without need of help I was rushed to hospital and spent several months there, where my weight went from 222lbs down to 114lbs in a matter of six weeks muscle and weight, literally fell off my body, I don’t mind the wheelchair I just cannot seem to get my head round why I must spend so much time being housebound. I have had carers look after me and even take me for a ride £££s out of pocket, so my own choice was to go it alone, yet still I get looked at by most as disabled, but my words to them are I am normal your the one that has to walk whereas I have 24hr wheels. I just wish i could get some fun in my life not just online friends…

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