They asked me what color wheels I wanted the day I was fitted for a wheelchair. I was there at the ALS clinic, where I’d be going for years, driving around and turning circles in a sample powerchair. I’d just moved in with my parents, and finally allowed myself to surrender to the longstanding reality that I could no longer walk, well, walk safely. I was driven to the appointment by my mom, in the back seat of her Jeep because it was easier to climb into. I’d always driven us to the clinic myself, but that too had been left in the past. I entered on foot, and exited in a loaner chair, wheeled down the long hallways and through the parking lot.
The manual chair was for outings; I couldn’t see the use of a powerchair. I could walk around the house and didn’t have any way to transport it. I didn’t see myself using the behemoth. Without buying a transport vehicle―something for which I was neither mentally or financially prepared―a five-figure motorized wheelchair would be of very little use. When my physical therapist showed me pictures and asked what color plastic wheel-inserts I wanted, I thought, Could there be a more ridiculous question?!
I was being fitted for a wheelchair, and they were speaking as if preparing my permanent home, like I’d never get out. They were making sure everything fit just right; my new chair would be part of me, in their eyes. How could I possibly give a flying fuck what color the wheels are? Besides, I’m never gonna use it anyway.