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Odd title, I know.

Tonight, as I was being "debriefed" by my friends who went to the Houston Abilities Expo, they said something that startled me (because it's not reported anywhere):  that other disabled/caretakers sometimes stop them in the parking lot or grocery store and ask about their wheelchair.

So... (like I said, I can't find any record that any scholar has ever commented on this)...
Do you get asked about your walker/scooter/wheelchair/whatever?

And if so, where does the exchange take place?

I wonder if it's more socially acceptable here in the South than elsewhere... or whether the common problem of being disabled is sort of a social "leveler."

And... do you think that people who do this approach people who seem to be like them in some respect (in other words, as a middle-aged woman in a scooter, am I more likely to be approached by White middle-aged women who are in scooters or need ones than, say, Hispanic men of my age or younger Black women or....?

I don't know.

Experts -- you who have these devices -- what do YOU think?

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Comment Preferences

  •  can't answer your question, but can (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, weck, FloridaSNMOM

    share an Atlantic magazine link about folding wheels for wheelchairs, which i read just tonight. i guess people just want to know "stuff."

    @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution. * Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Fri Aug 02, 2013 at 09:04:52 PM PDT

  •  Not sure what this is about. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, FloridaSNMOM

    If it's about people asking other people about subjects that they obviously share in common (ability/mobility), well yeah, who better to ask than someone who is in  the same boat, maybe at the dryer end?
    What kind of questions are you asked? Where you got it? Whether you like it? Why you need it? Many different levels here.
    As for the gender and ethnic issues, a black man might feel that approaching a  middle-aged woman in a scooter could scare her or set off her alarms (yes, many black men are aware that our culture has tarred them as scary) and would avoid a situation that raised that kind of tension (you never know, sweet little old lady could have a 12 guage under that lap robe).

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 05:53:41 AM PDT

  •  I've both done this and been on the receiving end. (0+ / 0-)

    I've asked about a wheelchair when we were looking for a new one, and had others ask about my other half's while we were out. I've also had discussions with other parents in households where wheelchairs were used about the best snugly to use, and ways to keep toddlers in parent's laps while they were pushing and shopping.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 09:56:16 AM PDT

  •  use2 get asked a lot about my mopstick canes/walki (0+ / 0-)

        when i first started needing balance-stabilizers for walking about 15 years ago, i started with a cane from the thrift-store, and quickly found that the bent-wrist angle decreased apply-able total arm-strength and put the wrist at risk of injury.  then at a dollar-store, i noticed a mopstick unscrewed from its mophead that looked as if the threaded end was about the same dimensions as the tip of my cane.  so i bought a mop, took it out to my car, removed the mophead, and put the rubber traction-tip from my cane onto the threaded end of the mophead -  
         voila - walking stick!  straight strong line from elbow to wrist, longer reach-length of stick nicely stabilizing between steps instead of being cane-like an added unstable 'leg' to lean on, and it cost less than the cane had cost!
         only problem was the shoulder-strain of holding the arm at elbow-right angle, which of course a cane doesn't cause because the arm goes pretty straight down.
         i remembered seeing a photo of Margaret Head with her Y-top walking stick, a type she got from one of the aboriginal cultures she lived with.  found her explanation that the y-top is to hook the thumb over to let the stick support the arm between repositionings of the walkingstick every 2 or so steps.  no Y at the top of my mopstick, but it had a hole 'thru the top for hanging it on a wallhook - so i put a long-enough clothrope loop thru' the hole that my hand could rest in the loop at same time as gripping the walkingstick and that took the strain off my shoulder beautifully!

    which is a lot faster to explain when standing in grocery store parking lot showing the actual walkingstick to people who ask me.  lots did, mostly other people with canes and people who said they had a parent or other elder or a friend who had to use a cane.  

    one told a very sad story - her aunt was advised by Dr to get a 4-toe metal cane for 'best' stability during her morning and evening half-mile walks, in place of her ordinary cane.  it was a coincidental advisement by the Dr,  not a response to a problem - the patient had no problems with her walking regimen.  still, she complied, and a few days later tripped over the slight protrusion of the plate the 4 toes are set into, fell on the sidewalk, broke her hip, hospitalized and surgerized,  moved by son into a nursing home (bettter regulated in california than 'assisted living' which has almost no regulation here), ambulation & independence never regained, bedfast permanently, and...said the woman telling me of this...the rest could easily be guessed.

    when chance-met strangers speak from the heart like that, being receptive and being comfortable approaching others becomes easier, i think.  my neighborhood is mostly elders in modest little homes and apartment buildings that qualify for housing subsidy for very-low-income disabled/handicapped tenants, so there's a larger proportion of people using canes, walking sticks, etc, around here.  and from my earlier work in a local nonprof community health org, i learned there's a higher than average proportion of disabled people in this town especially those who moved here after becoming disabled because some daily-life things cost less here (e.g., trailer-park living instead of house or apartmentment).  

    back when i used to need to go to the post office a lot, and used a cane-chair so i could sit in line, there was hardly a p.o. trip when i was not asked how does my cane-chair work and where did i get it - a 4-legged scissor-hinge type, not the 3-legged less stable kind, but awfully heavy due to be tube-steel rather than aluminum.  (fortunately, my feet healed enough over the years that i can stand in most lines ok with just my walkingstick.)

    i use 2 modified walkingsticks alpine-style the 4 or 5 times a year a friend takes me up-mountain above the smog line, and i can certainly move a lot faster on the handicap-friendly trails that way (if still not very far nor long) and have been asked once or twice up there.

    to my observation, people in wheelchairs in stores and parkinglots are not approached much.  i try to make a point of saying hello with words like, "nice it's better weather today, isn't it?"  or "tough going with this lousey weather, isn't it?" and they usually seem quite glad someone speaks with them at all, so i get the impression that being in a wheelchair in public makes things a bit lonely.  but they don't seem inclined to make a whole conversation out of it, usually.  one wheelchair woman told me chatting with on-legs people causes her neck-ache looking up at them unless they stand back a little further than is usual social distance so the wheelchair person doesn't have to crane the neck.  but they rarely think of that, she said, so she's just as happy if on-legs people don't engage her in chat.   (i was in an electric shopping cart at the time, so i was sitting down same level as she was.  i probably wouldn't have realized the neck problem otherwise, but it's stayed in my mind since then when i say hello to other wheelchair folks).

    i don't have to use my wheelchair in public much because if i'm in bad enuf shape to need it i'm in too bad shape to leave home at all, and in the in-between condition i'm happier to stay home and just do chores of which there are always too many piling up.  i've noticed that handicapped people in their own homes are steadier on their feet and more deft in what they do around the house than they are in other places, and that people accompanying them --and even worse, strangers who "help" them-- kind of rush them faster than is feasible for good function, which can make a wheelchair person really subject to the thoughtless speed and expectations of friends and strangers who are trying more to make themselves feel good about 'helping the disabled' than to truly render appropriate help.

    when i began to experience the craned-neck-chat and being-rushed thoughtlessness, it was at that point less a surprise than it would've been.  i function better at home than 'out there' so even if i had the means to get out and about 'for the fun of it' i doubt i would - i'd rather be well-functionally active at home than a chivvied-around gimp at spectator-entertainment like movies or concerts or SCA or restaurants.  if everyone using wheelchairs, sticks, canes, etc could comfortably get out and about as much as other people, i would bet we'd comprise a much larger and certainly more visible segment of population than anyone realizes.

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