Life in a Wheelchair During COVID-19

Six weeks after shutting down the state of Georgia, we are officially work-at-home, distance learning, remote student teachers and expert indoor activity enthusiasts. We’ve ordered all things online – from groceries to furniture and everything in between. After the children are safely in bed, we wear masks to pick up our mail (with gloves on) in the shadows of the night to avoid interacting with our, otherwise delightful, neighbors. We enter/exit the home through the garage for several reasons. One, because its wheelchair accessible; two, to safely and privately peel off contaminated clothing; and three, to drop off newly retrieved mail next to recently delivered groceries awaiting our methodical sanitation routine.

Clothing gets dropped directly into the washing machine, previously doused with an ounce of Pine-sol disinfectant for sanitation. Then I roll full speed in my Jazzy Air® 2 to the nearest bathroom to shower in the warmest temperature my body can handle. Hair washing is usually a must. If this behavior sounds like the actions of a terror-stricken, crazy person, you haven’t watched the news, read the paper, scrolled through your social media or lived on planet earth since December 2019.

We get it! From safety measures being taken for droplet-protection to life-threatening close calls, dealing with loss can be physical, mental, emotional and even academic. With a new disability or illness, there may be more than one bereavement: loss of the person you used to be and/or the one you often believe you’ll never get to be. It’s a difficult reality to face and a new normal that changes everything. Sometimes even for the better.

We actually enjoy each other’s company and learned to get along in small spaces, like hospital, waiting and emergency rooms for extended periods of time, a long time ago.

I collected responses from an unofficial poll given to executives, parents, teachers, and members at my church about one word that describes their greatest COVID-19 challenge. The collective response looked like my everyday life: isolation, unemployment, career shift, loneliness, fear, depression and more. It’s hard for most to think about loss of independence until it’s no longer available. We can!

Maybe that’s why an otherwise traumatic shelter-in-place order didn’t carry the same sting in our home. From indoor golf, to outdoor walks, from backyard basketball to video calls for both work and play. We’ve flown drones in the cul-de-sac and played chess on the floor. For the first time ever, we worship together in the same room and time every Sunday for online church!

As our state questionably leads the charge back to work, many still wonder if it’s a way forward or step back? COVID-19 remains at the front of our minds for those of us with weakened immune systems. We continue to self-isolate to do our part to support the safety and brave dedication of all front-line workers.

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