Monday, 10 December 2012


I am an independent man, used to doing things for myself, going where I want to go, looking after my own needs and wants. That changed forever yesterday. I had my first wheelchair event.

It wasn't actually a wheelchair event. It was a group event with some friends and some people I didn't know. We went to see the Christmas lights at the Calgary Zoo. The zoo does this event every year; it's called Zoolights. They light up the zoo with about 1.5 million Christmas lights.

The zoo is a big place, impossible for me to walk through it all. So I took my wheelchair. Even with the chair the pathway had enough hills and sideways slopes that it would have been difficult for me, if not impossible, without the help of my friend Tonny Gee. He pushed me around most of the night, up the steeper ramps and across some of the sideways slopes.

Don't get me wrong. The zoo has done a ton of work to ensure people in wheelchairs can enjoy it. Still, those slope made it impossible and I was dependent on not just Tonny, but others too, to make sure I could see it all. I am not used to depending on others and it is hard on my ego and pride.

There are a couple of interesting things I noticed about being in the chair. I spent a lot of time in disembodied conversation with Tonny as he pushed from behind the chair. His words floated over my head and I often found myself twisting to respond to the location of his voice. I also noticed how "invisible" I suddenly became, seated below the eye level of most people. The just forget you are there since they cannot make eye contact.

On the other hand many of my friends made extra efforts to ensure I was included, safe, and warm. Some of us went for snacks at Boston Pizza afterwards and sitting with people at eye level makes a big difference. The evening was a good thing for me to do, getting me out with people and enjoying the outdoors.

All in all, I will take the wheelchair and being out over sitting at home doing nothing.


  1. *hug*

    Geting out is good for you psychologically!

    You know, if people forget about you simply because you are not visually present at eye level, perhaps you could speak louder to attract attention, elevate your wheelchair height, obtain a poster cut out of yourself to wave around.........;)

  2. I like the poster idea. That's my style. :)