Patience and Love for Paraplegics

And Everyone Involved

Reading time: 5 minutes


If you’re in a wheelchair, or not, the purpose of this post is to help you realize that you should try to never complain and view life with patience and love.

Something I’ve seen more than I’d like is people complaining. Myself included, but I reckon I’m more careful/aware than most people.

In general, people don’t like to be around people that complain. In certain cases, people will tell me, because I’m in a wheelchair, that I’m allowed to complain. I don’t ever think that I’ve earned the right to complain or something like that, and no one should.

Everyone has problems, and for them, it could be a big deal but seem small when compared to others’ problems.

I’ve had conversations where a parent would tell me that once their kid started to complain, they told them to look at me and see that I’m not complaining and my issue is larger than theirs. The issue here is that everyone has a self-importance complex and the problems that affect them is a big deal.

The big question is how can we, in wheelchairs or anyone inconvenienced in life, stop complaining and have more patience and love?

I continually glance back at these wise words by Churchill to put me in check and stop complaining.

A man is about as big as the things that make him angry

Winston Churchill

What does it look like to live with patience and love? Here are some select stories.

Story 1

I’m meeting chatting with two guys in a wheelchair, I’m not particularly enthusiastic. Nothing to do with them in a wheelchair, but they’re just not exactly my type of people. Luckily, I have tolerance and unparalleled acting skills, so I stick around, listen and talk if a question is tossed my way.

 We’re in the US and each of us has dealt with snow, so the topic migrates to dealing with snow in a wheelchair, a task that isn’t particularly pleasant.

One thing to point out is that a person in a wheelchair wouldn’t necessarily talk to someone not in a wheelchair about the problems in snow. The issue with this is that when 3 of us in a wheelchair got together, the other two only complained about wheelchair specific things.

So as the topic migrates to snow, the other guys talk about how annoying or how much they don’t like the slushy snow and when it sticks to the wheelchair tires and then when they get in the car, it gets all dirty.

That’s a small problem, something that most people have with their shoes. A topic that I don’t care to partake. It’s a car. Just a car and cold, muddy water. In 10 years, I won’t care or think about the little problems. Even tomorrow I won’t think about it.

This is an example of how it’s important to avoid even the smallest complaints, because those are the ones that really don’t matter and take away from a good conversation. Especially when they really don’t matter in the long term. The truth is that if you’re in a wheelchair or not, no one wants to hear about your tiny problems.

Story 2

I’m on Instagram and I looked at someone’s profile that recently followed me. I notice they’re in a wheelchair, the motorized type that tends to be bulky – more than a manual chair.

They posted a picture at Starbucks (in the US) of one of the tables that has a little handicap symbol, a table meant to be adequate for people in wheelchairs and probably follows some dimension standard based on the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Because of their bulky wheelchair, they actually couldn’t fit at the table, their chair had armrests with controls to move the chair and the table wasn’t high enough for them to go beneath. This person was ranting about how terrible Starbucks is and how inaccessible the table is.

As I see it, I’m just happy that Starbucks even did anything. They tried. Nothing is universal. It’s a common mistake made by people in wheelchairs to think that the world needs to accommodate them completely when it doesn’t even do so for people that aren’t disabled.

Should we not have anything high on shelves because some people are short? Should we flatten any hill because they can be steep and hard to get up? The answer is no.

Patience and love are needed. Patience because the world isn’t going to cater to you immediately and if you just make people aware (in an understanding demeanor) then all you need is patience and soon enough, that table could be raised.

Love. Have some love and appreciation for the people that tried and thought of you. Even if the table doesn’t work for you.

Story 3

Here in Australia, a country that doesn’t have ADA, I’ve come across more than a few little issues as I’ve explored. There are many buildings with a step or two to get in and no ramp or sometimes the ramp is insanely steep and not possible without a little help from my friends. In the gym, none of the water fountains are accessible.

Having patience and love is important when it comes to raising issues, because what we fail to realize is that the world is not against us. No one put those steps there to spite you. Most people are good and want to help, they just need to hear your perspective.

At Curtin Uni, here in Aussie, there was a medium sized issue. The walkways are brick and the bricks had morphed into what could be considered brail for the jolly green giant. It was so bad in fact, that I would need to go very slow and be very cautious so that I wouldn’t hit a brick and fall forward. It’s almost happened a few times.

I brought up this issue, that the pathways are a high risk point for me to fall as well as literally anyone, who could easily trip.

I didn’t complain or attack with hate. I knew that it’s only natural given the number of trees in the area and I also knew that the uni cared about me and took it seriously. I just told them about the problem in the same way a consultant would if they hired one to find issues.

Nothing happened for a few months.

Patience was inhibited.

Some construction fences come up and after a few weeks, the path is smooth.

Going along this path is what made me want to write this. The point I’m getting across (ideally) is that when there is an issue of accessibility, realize that the world won’t accommodate you entirely, but if you kindly bring the issue in light and have patience, it very well may get resolved.

Here’s another quick-ish story.

There are a lot of hills at Curtin and all over the world. While at Curtin, I would be going up a hill with some friends and they’d mention something about how bad these hills are with a kind of “how dare they” tonality. Not really with hate towards the uni but just saying how inaccessible the hills are. And they are rather steep and getting a push always helps. But my typical response is that I don’t mind.

Sometimes hills do get tiring, but that’s the same for 99% of people (probably animals as well).

I don’t expect the world to level itself for the likes of me, I’d be upset if it did so. I love the world and if there are hills, then let there be hills.

All I need is patience to get up the hills, as well as a bit of strength or an amazing friend. The latter I’ve had the great fortune of having many of in my life.

Immediate action items: The next time you have something happen that you might complain about, remember the quote and if you can’t fix the issue by bringing it up or doing something yourself, then just have patience.

Summary: Don’t complain about little problems. Bring issues to light and they will likely get solved if you have patience and don’t demonize the rest of the world. Approach people with love and understand that they’re trying to help you, but they sometimes forget – as we all do.

Overdeliver: Start looking at little problems as a challenge or something that will make for a good story. When everything goes swimmingly, the water in uninteresting.

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