Going to College in A Wheelchair: My First Month

Studying in my Wheelchair

Being back at school has been an exhilarating notion. Nine months after my diagnosis, it’s astonishing that I’m back tearing it up on campus. However, college life is a little different now…

When I get to school, the first thing I do is get my wheelchair. I use an electric wheelchair on campus because I still struggle with severe fatigue and pain. The large campus creates a necessity for a spiffy set of wheels (people say “spiffy” right?).

I don’t use a wheelchair outside of campus, which makes for interesting conversation when I run into classmates out in the “real world.” I’m like a double agent. Scratch that: triple agent. My work life, school life, and personal life are completely different, but that’s a topic for another time.

At first, it took a while to get used to using the wheelchair. It was admittedly frustrating. I didn’t visualize my senior year being lived mostly between my wheelchair and my bed. I had hoped to join club volleyball, attend concerts, and join the debate team. Now I have an excuse to avoid the gym, turn up my music as loud as it will go, and debate my mother. I compensate.

Another unanticipated part of my senior year? I live at home. Which means I don’t have to cheat death by food-poisoning at the cafeteria. #Goals

Using my wheelchair gives me the energy I need to complete my homework, but I’m not a good driver. I still run my chair into walls on occasion. Including my Spanish teacher’s door post. I apologize, Mr. Piccici. I’ll come repaint as soon as I can…

There are other advantages to being in a wheelchair on campus. 1.) I’m not one of the tallest girls on campus anymore 2.) I can wear heels without making my feet sore 3.) My chair is a guy repellent which allows me to focus on my studies. My dad is glad about that one.

Along with the advantages come disadvantages. My wheelchair is old. I bought it second-hand and it originates somewhere between prehistoric and 2014. It sounds like a literal dinosaur. I get lots of attention in the quiet library in the form of curious looks and scowls. Some people don’t like dinosaurs.

There have also been profound life lessons learned from using my wheelchair. Like, don’t text and drive. I learned this the hard way: I fell into a gutter my first week.


Another good lesson: people who make jokes about your chair are the people you want in your life. Mature people know how to make good jokes from “serious” stuff.

In all seriousness, using a wheelchair at school has been extremely difficult. Life is full of a lot of “feelings” these days, and I’m not particularly fond of “feelings.” Before my diagnosis, even as my health was declining, I was active and considered myself immensely autonomic.

Now, no aspect of life is truly in my control. There are few things over which I have influence, and the rest are floating in unabridged chaotic motion. Watching the chaos, I realize how glad I should be that God is in control. I, in my human state, am lacking in both the wisdom and power to positively influence any aspect of my existence. Thus, by entrusting my whole life to God, I am practicing the essence of Christian belief in returning that which was never truly mine. I am releasing a source of stress and angst in exchange for peace joy in the knowledge of God’s omnipotence.

All this goes to say that trusting God isn’t easy. It’s a daily decision. Along with all the anxieties that come from losing my independence and health, there are opportunities to grow.

I pray God continues to grow my character each day and that He uses my wheelchair as a conversation starter. Afterall, the chair is quite sexy.

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