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Should I Walk or Use a Wheelchair: A Huge Dilemma

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Alokita | August 18, 2021 (Last update: July 2, 2023)

Alokita is a Polio Survivor. She overcame her disability and went on to become a commerce graduate. Alokita writes about disability issues and her appetite for learning new things is far from satiated.

As they say, nothing is purely black and white… there are many shades of grey in between. You cannot divide the world into two parts – those who can walk and those who cannot. There are many possibilities in between. There are those who can walk with a little limp. There are those who can walk comfortably with certain walking aids like crutches. And, there are those who can manage to walk with the help of some walking aid but the process is too tiring for them — I fall in such a category. Persons falling in this category often face the dilemma of choosing between walking and wheeling.

There was a time when I could walk (although with little difficulty) and had never experienced getting around in a wheelchair. Then came a time when I could not even stand with or without help. This was the time I got introduced to a mobility aid called a wheelchair. And I instantly loved it. Obviously wheeling around was much comfortable and dignified than crawling. After the long wait of almost a decade I got back my power to stand and walk again but this time walking was not as comfortable as it used to be earlier.

I thank the medical fraternity and medical science for giving me the power to stand and walk. Now I can climb stairs and go to places where I could not go in my wheelchair. But, I prefer to use my wheelchair on most occasions.

Am I too lazy to walk? Am I addicted to using wheelchair? Don’t I wish to stand and walk like ‘normal people’ do? These are the questions I’m often asked for choosing to go somewhere in my wheelchair.

Of course, like many other people falling in the grey area, between being able to walk and not being able to walk, I faced the dilemma of choosing between walking and wheeling. And on many occasions, I made the wrong decision. But now, I know what’s right for me, and let me tell you why it is a wheelchair.

When I’m in my wheelchair I can see and enjoy things around me. I can look into people’s eyes and interact with them with my friendly smile. I can cover longer distances easily. I can take selfies or pose for a photo. I can wander around humming my favorite song. In short, I can live a life as everyone does.

And, when I’m walking? I can just walk! While walking with my walker and KAFO in both legs, I have to concentrate so much on maintaining my body balance that I cannot bother to see what’s around me. The process of walking is so tiring that I get completely drenched in sweat and I feel embarrassed in talking to anyone. I become so breathless that I cannot give someone a smile. Roaming around aimlessly is not an option when I’m walking; I can just go to a pre-decided location and then I need a place to sit and relax. A sweaty selfie? Eww! In a nutshell, I live in survival mode while I’m walking.

“Why did I choose to undergo multiple surgeries for being able to walk when I prefer staying in my wheelchair?” is the often asked question from my relatives. They cannot see any change in my life but I see an immense one! Whenever I’m visiting a new place or a place that I already know to be inaccessible I wear my KAFO and take my walker with me. It might not be a big thing for anyone else but it is a life-changing thing for me. Now, I can go to a place where I know I cannot take my wheelchair. Of course, I’ll have to get tired, sweaty, and breathless but I can get to inaccessible places too. Being a citizen of a country that is majorly inaccessible the power to climb a few stairs and walk a few steps is like a superpower for a person who has spent a long time in a wheelchair. So, I’m really thankful that I can walk again.

But, wherever I can go in my wheelchair I would happily choose it over walking and you already know the reason!

I decided to write this piece of article because I’ve seen many people getting stuck in the dilemma and most often taking the wrong decision. Some people struggle to walk a few steps but they reject the idea of sitting in a wheelchair. This is probably because the wheelchair is seen as a symbol of disability. People don’t want to be wheelchair ‘bound‘. The idea of sitting in a wheelchair is not accepted even by old age people who become completely dependent on others for their mobility. I think the wheelchair is one of the most misunderstood things in our society.

I’ve been using a wheelchair for almost 9 years now and I can clearly say that a wheelchair never binds a person; it in fact makes you more independent. Anyone who struggles to walk, whether due to a disability or due to old age, should not shy away from using a wheelchair just because walking is considered ‘normal’.

In my case, I choose not to waste my time and energy in just standing and walking when I can do much more with that time and energy.

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2 responses to “Should I Walk or Use a Wheelchair: A Huge Dilemma”

  1. Avatar Vicki says:

    Walking in survival mode YES this is
    Me. Using crutches to get to a place my husband tells me to slow down but I want to need to get from a to b as fast as possible to stop the pain dripping in sweat
    Using a wheelchair I feel as though I have failed Exactly what was said the stigma of the chair. I fantasize using my chair wishing I had no option so I don’t have to justify using it. I make so many wrong decisions always thinking I have to walk have to prove this injury doesn’t rule my life. But it does

  2. Avatar Ann Zou says:

    I am at a point where my chronic condition is getting worse. Rapidly. Standing, walking with a stick or crutches, stabilising bandages- it helped for years, but is not enough any more. I am getting too much isolated. Alone. Want to start a new job in August and dont know whether I will be able to do so because walking has become such of an issue. There are pros, there are contras. I want to talk to people about it and this helps. Stories like yours help! So thanks for sharing.

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