In 2013 when I first started getting my pseudo-symptoms, I stopped being able to get to and from work. I am a pragmatic kinda guy so I figured if I can't walk to work then I need something in the form of wheels that will fit on a bus. So I looked on Ebay. What else? I found an ad for a motorised wheelchair and, after having a look at it, I bought it. It came with a Roho cushion, which, unbeknownst to me then, was worth as much as the chair! Whoda thought!
It was the simplest solution. Neat and tidy. Can't walk? Get some wheels! So I did.
Now that I am 3 years on, and wiser about medical assumptions and asses in general, (especially as someone seated when everyone else is crotch height!) I have discovered that having a wheelchair is political. The psych, sorry, NEUROpsychologist (which somehow means that they are better) told me how I had 'chosen to identify myself as someone in a wheelchair'. News to me!
In my community I was 'that guy with glasses' now I'm 'that guy with the wheelchair', but other than that, I don't think I am particularly identified or that I identify myself solely as someone in a wheelchair. It's preferable to 'that guy that walks like a drunk cockatoo - he went for the ferry this morning and he'd have just about got there this evening, if he hadn't keeled over on the jetty'.
This year, after having done away with my old neurologist with his acoutrements of psychobabblers, I have been getting a bit of help from an OT. She says that I would possibly be eligible for funding for a new wheelchair. Apparently my old one is all wrong. It is too big, for a start. I bought it from a rather portly lady who was moving up to a smarter Jazzy in grey plush, so, yeah, it was her size. And my precious Roho is now the wrong type of cushion because it has too much instability. Hmm, I had not a clue about all this 'fitting for a wheelchair' business. It's something like being fitted for a bra, I believe. You have to have the right shape and support, not just sling into any old thing.
But to become eligible I need to get a number, and to get this number I need to have... a diagnosis!!
Now I'm looking askance at my faithful wheelchair. It's too big - I must look ridiculous in it - a Ken doll listing around in a full size Mack truck trying to look like he's supposed to be there. I didn't get it through a doctor's approval - I shouldn't be using it in public as though I have some sort of right, making people shuffle aside for me. We are both phonies. People are looking, I'm sure, wondering why I am driving my larger sibling's mobility aid and what right I have to be taking up the disability space on the passenger ferry. I know they are murmuring amongst themselves, wondering how I can blatantly flaunt my obviously undocumented, hysterical 'need' to replace normal anonymous perambulation with speed and sympathy - Poor Aunt Joan can't walk very well, barely a shuffle, and SHE'S not weak or fake enough to jump into a wheelchair at the first hint of a dizzy spell. And I'm looking at other wheelchair sitters, noticing how much more authentic they look than I, how elegantly tailored to their chrome extensions.
Now I'm thinking any day the wheelchair police are going to stalk up to me in the most public of places and shout through their megaphone, "put your feet on the floor where I can see them! What are YOU doing in that chair? YOU aren't officially disabled! Where are your diagnostic papers? Your body shape is clearly incongruous with that chair size! Your cushion's air pressure ratio to your buttocks is not state approved. There's not enough pity for you as well as all the people who REALLY can't walk! Stop being a hypochondriac and get some exercise!!" and then they evict me off my Roho and repossess my chair for an overweight (but attractive) paraplegic child and they egg me with eggs laid by the fraud chicken and smell like shame.
In my daydreams I name my 'proper' little wheelchair Vindication. I will be riding it proudly with an official stamp on its polished front and I'll fly my papers like a flag...
Why do I need to justify my need?
When I bought the wheelchair to get to work I was innocent. I bought it like someone buys a toaster. Now I look at it with eyes that belong to someone else; some judge whose approval I value. If ever I needed a psych, it will be to help me separate my internal Saturnine voice from those of perceived external authority figures far more than I need one to help me eradicate any identification as someone who has a simple need. Couldn't I be just someone practical and smart who wanted to get to work without wasting too much energy?