Even though I’ve already told myself that my chronic illness posts (still don’t have a title for the segment, I need some name-related inspiration) are going to be on the last Friday of every month, I just couldn’t wait to post this one.
Those of you who read my Something A Little More Personal post will know that I have faced some discrimination as a result of my illness, but this one is going to be about the totally overwhelming support that I have been lucky enough to have too, and it will always beat the bad times.
Recently I’ve noticed more and more that I’m not able to cope with my current wheelchair, eye-rollingly named ‘Wheeliam’,
and that he isn’t able to meet my needs well enough on a day-to-day basis. Wheeliam (on the right, post-decoration) leads to a lot of wrist dislocations and fatigue worse than I’m used to, and given how often I’m having to use him, he unfortunately just won’t do. On a whim while we were out sales shopping in early January, mum pushed me (in the wheelchair, she didn’t just throw me) into a local mobility shop, because I needed new end bits for my crutches. There, the most techy-looking wheelchair ever revealed itself. Unlike Wheeliam, this one didn’t have armrests, which I knew would really help make it easier to push and also had a lower, more padded back for extra comfort. I asked the man we were talking to if I would be able to have a go, and goodness me. It was so sleek and smooth and fast that I think if I had made a break for it, there is a real possibility that Shwheela and I (another genius name) could have gotten away without paying, but I am not the stealing kind of customer.
As soon as I got home I was telling people about it and that I wanted to start saving up all my money to pay for the new chair,
which I was told by the salesman could be made-to-measure, with add-ons to suit your own needs. A lot of people started saying that a wheelchair isn’t something that a 17-year old should really be saving up for and, though I agreed, I didn’t know how else I could get the money. I was quite against the idea of setting up a GoFundMe, because I didn’t want to ask the people that were so kind to me anyway to give me their money, and, to be honest, I didn’t really think that people would donate – especially because of how much money I needed to raise. After much persuasion, I finally set it up and shared the link once on Twitter, and was genuinely overwhelmed by how many of my friends were sharing it. Somehow, the page ended up on Facebook, and the donations started coming in. If I’m honest, I think the amount of times I’ve cried since it launched about how generous people were being, even people I’ve never met, has been in the region of 15.
I’ve been able to thank every donor personally through the app, but I can’t put into one tiny message how grateful I am. And believe me, I tried so hard to that one of my friends told me that if I didn’t stop saying thank you, they’d take back their donation.