Love in a wheelchair

10 Things we learned from dating someone in a wheelchair

By Samantha Baxter and Chelsea McEvoy

If you're new to the world of wheelchairs your life has probably been filled with new experiences and new information.

Over the years, we have learned many things about being in a relationship with someone in a wheelchair.

Some lessons have been life altering, some have hurt physically while some leave us in a fit of laughter.

Here's our top 10 list of things we have learned from being a wheelchair spouse.

  • People are going to stare; and that's OK. When we say stares, we mean an array of different looks. Some are pity stares, some are curious and some are just downright rude.
  • Continue with confidence and don't take it personally.
  • All spinal cord injuries and people in chairs are different. Before we knew our men on wheels, we thought if you were paralyzed it meant from the waist down. Essentially you just couldn't move your legs.
  • We learned very quickly that this is not the case. Each injury level or disease is as unique as each individual person and story.
  • The world is not wheelchair accessible. Next time you go for a walk, bike ride, or drive, take a look around you.
  • Notice the stairs without ramps? Notice the curbs without openings? Notice that the bar you’re in only has high tables?
  • There is still a lot of work to do to make this world more wheelchair friendly.
  • Shit happens ... or doesn't. When you're in bed, in the car, out for dinner. Same with pee ... when you're least expecting it.
  • UTIs (urinary tract infection) are the man's version of PMS. Seriously, don't mess with a man who has a UTI; they are hormonal, they have cramps and they are miserable. And no, throwing chocolate at them doesn't work.
  • Skin Issues. Due to limited or zero sensation being aware of cuts, bruises and sores is very important. A skin issue gone unnoticed could be critical and lead to a hospital visit.
  • Assume they can do anything without help unless they say otherwise. There is nothing they find more frustrating that people helping them do things that they can do themselves — like open the door, or put their chair in their vehicle.
  • It's OK if it doesn't work out. A relationship is a relationship and no one should feel pressured to continue one just because your partner is in a chair.
  • ​All jobs are purple jobs. In most relationships, there is a division of labour. Guys jobs and girls jobs; blue jobs and pink jobs. But when you're in a relationship with a person in a wheelchair, the blue and pink get combined and every job becomes purple.
  • Be aware of where your toes are at all times. Casters hurt, a lot.

Despite our list there are endless things we have learned and continue learning.

One thing we can agree on that has been a major learning lesson is that dating or marrying someone in a wheelchair is the same as having a relationship with an able-bodied person.

It may take a little getting used to, but soon enough the wheelchair disappears and what you are left with is all the normal aspects of living and loving with a significant other.

Samantha Baxter and Chelsea McEvoy write a blog called Wheel Love.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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