I have a powered wheelchair to help me get around the school where I work. To give you an idea of the basic size of the campus, five round trips from my office to the administration building is a mile. Which, I guess, makes a single round trip something along the lines of, uh... let's call it around 350 yards. Three and a half football fields.
The powered wheelchair is the only thing that makes it possible to get around the school. I got enough problems with a trick bladder as it is, if I had to struggle with my walker while struggling with the trick bladder, well, as we used to say in the I.T. world, there would be "undesirable and unpredictable results."
Today, somebody actually asked me if I needed the powered wheelchair.
I chose one of the least aggressive things to say. "Well, it takes me ten minutes to get across the street," I said as I pointed at the parking lot. "It would take me about a half hour to get from one end of campus to the other. [Class periods are 43 minutes long.] And after using all of my energy simply to get around campus, what energy would I have left to do what's really important: help the kids?"
I figured that "tempting fate by walking with the trick bladder, when it's on the edge of cutting loose" wasn't the road to take.
But... come on. Have you ever seen anyone in a wheelchair and even thought to ask, "Do you really need that?"
I gotta tell you... I hit the ground at 2:00AM and I find the humor in it. A co-worker asks me if I "really need" the powered wheelchair... and that... I'm sorry, but that's not funny.
But there's a lesson in it. A gift of M.S. Another one I'm not exactly sure how to open... but there is a lesson in this moment. We'll see if I'm willing to learn it.