A response to all the people who have ever told us "You're such a good person!" when they find out our men are in wheelchairs.
Wheelie True Stories

Your Wheelchair Makes Me Awesome

The fact that our men are in wheelchairs comes up in conversation almost daily. And soon after follows, “bless your heart,” or “you’re such a good person.”

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CHELSEA SAYS…

Of course I’m a good person. When I met James I felt sorry for him. I instantly pushed my dreams and aspirations aside and made the decision to date him. I mean, if I didn’t, who would?… The poor soul. So now I have dedicated my life to taking care of him and loving him because of my charitable (get it…chair-itable…) personality.

Wait, WHAT?! Let’s be real here.

This is one of my biggest struggles dating someone in a chair, hence why this is our first blog post. I am not an awesome person for being in love with my boyfriend. I’m a lucky person for finding love. You can bless my heart all you want, however he is not lucky to have me, I am lucky to have him. You may think I am saying all this just because I am a “nice person” but this is simply not the case.

James had dragged my ass all around the world when I had never travelled before. He continues to kick my ass in tennis, bike riding, bungee jumping, yoga,waterskiing… pretty much everything really. He gets my ass home when I’ve had a few too many and slaps my ass when he thinks I’m pretty. And sometimes, emphasis on sometimes he can be an ass himself. Shocking, I know, calling my disabled boyfriend an ass. Still think I’m a nice person??

Here it is, plain a simple. I love my man disability or not. We have a real relationship that requires some minor adjustments, but his wheelchair does not make ME awesome. It makes him awesome.

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SAM SAYS…

There is a stigma around disability, a stereotype that someone in a wheelchair is not as capable as an able-bodied person. They are seen as victims who are incapable of participating in everyday life. They are either weak and sad, or bitter and angry. They are seen as a burden, someone who needs to be taken care of. These stereotypes get perpetuated mostly due to the fact that society in general just doesn’t know any better.

Who helps him get dressed, or transfer in and out of his chair? Who cooks and cleans? Who drives him around? Wait, you’re his wife, not his care aide? “You have such a big heart,” or “you’re such a great person!”

It’s time that we change this.

Sure there are some things my husband can’t do…like walk for example. But I can’t do a chin up and nobody tells Shawn that he must have such a big heart because he’s with me. I’m not his care aid. I don’t help him in and out of his chair, I don’t help him bathe, or get dressed, or use the washroom. Why is he suddenly deemed incapable because he sits instead of stands?

Want to know what he can do? Pretty much anything he wants. He has a job building houses, he plays sports, he drives a lifted F-350 truck. He has friends, and goes out with them. He hates getting up early and enjoys a cold beer after a long day. He loves to camp and ATV and has a passion for working with tools. He’s a big family guy and loves to travel. Sounds like 3/4’s of guys out there right?

So what is it about Shawn’s wheelchair that makes people think I’m so great? That I have “such a big heart”?

Am I a better person because of him? Definitely. But that’s not because of his chair, it’s because of who he is. It’s because of his passion for learning new things and then attempting to teach me. It’s because of his patience with me when I’m being a blonde. It’s because of his sense of humour and how hard he works to make me smile when I’m grumpy. It’s because he can do or make anything he wants and can fix anything. He’s artistic and he’s a dreamer and above all else, he loves me.

Because of him I have been introduced to a whole new world of amazing people and amazing adventures. He pushes me to be a better person (get it…pushes…), not his wheelchair. I’m just a regular girl (albeit moody) who fell in love with someone. This doesn’t make me a great person with a big heart. If you were to ask me which one of us is the better person, my answer will always be him.

 

1382154_10156455846765503_8393826185223301369_nSo next time you tell us that we are such nice people, we’ll smile, and we’ll say thanks, because in all honestly, we still don’t know what to say…

 

Pushing on…

Sam & Chelsea

34 Comments

  • Bert McKinley

    I am also a para and am curious about how he builds houses. I have tried to do some construction but haven’t figured out how to do many of the tasks involved. If you would, please email me some tips. To me, anything involving unlevel ground or above 5 foot is almost undoable. I do ride a motorcycle trike actually, but would like pointers on how to ecpand my world more.

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Hey, Bert! Maybe the answer to this question would be a great Wheel Love video idea… a kind of tutorial! A lot of what he does involves project management, building design, drafting and interior design, but he is also heavily involved in the physical aspect of building… everything from foundation, to framing, to laying hardwood and doing exterior rock work. What can I say, he’s a talented guy, lol! I’ll see if we can get a list of tips and tricks together for you! Thanks for reading!!

  • Renee

    I LOVED reading this… Me and my husband have been together 6 years and married for 18 months. So much of what you wrote is what I discuss with my girlfriends all the time!!! I can’t wait to read more! X

  • Sharon Brooks

    I have been married to my husband, a quad since age 2, for 37 years. Most of the couples we have known through our years together have marriages which did not last half as long. My husband’s strengths and limitations were right up front from the beginning, and I guess their spouse’s “disabilities” did not become known until after time together. We started out with honesty about what we could and could not do. It is that simple. I am no better or worse for having married a disabled person. Just having the blessing of knowing his limitations from the beginning.

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Very well put, Sharon! Congrats on 37 years! If everyone was as honest and up front as you have to be in this type of relationship, maybe things would turn out differently for some couples!

  • Barbara Daugherty

    My situation is a little different but the story is the same. My husband, Jeff had a massive stroke 10 yrs ago. Uses wheels part of the time but unable to speak and needs assistance to do many things.
    I’ve had several friends and family tell me how lucky Jeff is to have me and how wonderful of me to stay with him. Ladies, we’ve been married for 41 years! He is a terrific guy and the love of my life, father of our 2 children! We are a team and strive to get him as independent as he can possibly be. We do it together just like everything else we’ve always done. Your blog really hit home for me! Thank you!

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Thanks so much for your comment, Barbara! You said it perfectly, “we are a team”. We couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Kristin

    I’m on the opposite end of the equation – I’m an incomplete paraplegic (from birth), while my husband is able-bodied. I don’t know if he gets comments of the same ilk as those directed at you; if he does, he keeps it to himself. We do, though, get plenty of stares – even in a major metro area in 2016; I suppose some are probably thinking charitable thoughts about his being out with me! That said, I know that if anyone made such a comment, he would just reply that we’re together not out of obligation, but out of love.

  • Christine Shea

    As the mother of a 21 year old son who was paralyzed last year when he was 20, I was so happy to read your blog. Keep the blog posts coming! Thank you!!!

  • Bonnie

    I have an amazing 28 year old son with more energy than anyone i know! He studies, works , plays rugby, makes sausages, camps, travels , helps out friends and is an incredible brother and also a c-7 incomplete quad. from an accident 10 years ago..
    He dates alot but still , like many of his innumerable pals, has not settled down.. when he does i hope he finds someone like you two!

  • Linda C Martin

    Thanks for reinforcing my thoughts & hopes for couples dealing with such a difficult topic! I’m still hoping for my cousin to find love again even tho he has suffered alot, he’s starting to walk again due to guts & determination! He is such a great guy & soooo inspiring, I know his lost love wouldn’t want him to spend the rest if his life alone!

  • Teri

    Ladies, as a mom of a son with an SCI, this blog makes my heart sing!! He is super independent and I want him to find a fabulous woman… Someone who laughs easily and doesn’t take life too seriously. Thanks for sharing! People need to know this stuff. Sitting doesn’t make you half a person. Ps HATED YOU BEFORE ME…. So cliche and how sad to be that selfish and live with no hope. Keep writing!!

  • Amanda

    How weird and random this has popped up. I too was thinking of sharing the good the bad & the ugly of our journey of meeting then accident then marrying to ending up needing wheelchair. Everyones journey is so different and ours has certainly been bizarre. I married my hubby because I love him, not for what he could do for me or give me, certainly not for money, he is broke, and not because his bladder worked (doesn’t anymore) and he could walk, (which he could then) simply because I love him. He is great for dealing with and living through the excruciating pain he is always in and not giving up, although I know he wants to at times. Can’t wait to read your next installment.

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Thanks for taking the time to read, Amanda! We agree, everyone’s journey is SO different, yet there are many aspects that are the same. It sounds like you and your husband are both lucky to have the other!

  • Colleen

    Love it ! I always like the one “you’re gonna go to heaven for sure !”…and I believe I will because I found love…lucky him – he didn’t think that was possible after he was in a chair. Lucky me, I didn’t think it was possible because I was 40 ! LOL ! 12 years later and I still don’t look at the chair, I look at the person I met that makes me smile and laugh endlessly.

  • Nicole

    I have been thinking about your blog for awhile and realize something very interesting about my relationship with Stu. The 1st time we dated was before he was in a chair and I was a single parent. At that time he was the good person for dating this poor single woman with a child. We went our separate ways after a few years. After his accident I visited him at gf. Once home every time Stu wanted a second to try new things ( basketball, fishing, ice racing, and so much more) he would ask me come along as his wing woman. About two years after his accident the friendship lead to more. And now he is no longer the good person for dating a single mother but I have become the good person for dating a quad. Stu and I have now switched rolls. People will always make assumptions and put a label to help them deal with their own discomfort or lack of knowledge. Yes I am a good person but it is because I spend every day of my life trying to be one. And Stu is a good person because he is Stu, lol, he feels too hard cares to much and well he really is just Stu.♡

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Thanks for the insight, Nicole! It’s true, people will always make assumptions and judge, but that’s not going to stop us from trying to change the way they see things, right?? Lots of love to you and Stu!

  • Claudia Hubbs

    I wanted to do something like this as well and share our journey, Our ups and downs, being one voice to support others who’s partner has some sort of physical challenge that can push love to extremes. When people find out I married a man in a chair they look at me differently, think I am some sort of martyr, doing a good deed. The funny thing is, Todd Hubbs helped save me in so many ways. I tell people his smile attracted me to him and his sense of humor made me fall in love. There are days we drive each Crazy but we have to keep laughing. I proposed and he was crazy enough to say Yes! Eleven yrs strong this October. If you ever need a another contributing view point or a story to tell, let me know. Best of luck for doing something you love!

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Thanks, Claudia! We would love for you to do a guest post sometime in the near future! If you have any specific ideas, or anything you’d like to start a discussion about, please feel free to email us at info@wheellove.ca.

      Congrats on 11 years! xo

      Sam & Chelsea

  • Sandra

    Ladies! Love this! So timely as “Me Before You” just came out. Confession: I hated the book. At 46, I can say I’ve never really been in love (I’ve loved in relationship, just not the full deal – think you understand what I mean.) It’s okay, but something I’ve desired and has just never happened. So when I read that book (spoiler: The love interest chooses death over disability) I was furious! To have real love and give it up because you can’t live the same way you did before your accident seemed such a cop out. (Yes, I realize it’s a novel, but based on a real life event). Anyway, any insight or comment on this? Apparently the “wheeled” community hated the book and movie. Thanks and keep up the good stuff!

    • Sam & Chelsea

      Thanks for the comment, Sandra! To be honest, neither of us have seen the movie or read the book. We love our men, wheels or not and it makes us so sad that someone would assume that their lives are better not lived. This movie and book have been highly popular (and highly controversial), but we just see them as continuing to keep society in the dark in regards to what life with a disability is actually like… they are just perpetuating an age old stereotype. It’s unfortunate, really, because there was such an opportunity there to teach people and open their minds to something new.

      Sam & Chelsea

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