“Should I feel guilty since my accident has changed my partners lifestyle…”

My fiancee and I are getting married next summer and since my accident last year, and the fact that I have to use a wheelchair, we haven’t been the most active couple we once were. We were always trekking or mountain biking and I feel this was a big part of her attraction to me. I feel like I am making her live a life she didn’t choose. Should I feel guilty? Tom

 

Hi Tom. It’s one of the elements of becoming disabled that is rarely talked about, the guilt felt for those who are in our lives. Whether it’s wider family or our partners, it’s tough to cope with that feeling that we are now a burden, or that we have made their lives change too. I’ve talked to my wife about this, and although we met after my first spinal injury (yes I’ve had two, so greedy or what) she had to care for me while I was being treated for my second and the surgery that I required. She had to quit her £500/week job and go onto £50/week carer’s allowance, and both of our lives fell apart. But she insisted she had no worries about this at all. SHE LOVED ME! And I expect you are in the same boat. That love doesn’t care about you using a wheelchair, or legs or flying. Your partner loves you, and it’s vital that you remember that. If you let your guilt and worry colour how you treat her, you may create a self fulfilling prophesy.
However, just because you are now one of us wheelie types doesn’t mean the end of your active lifestyle. In fact it might open up a whole new world of outdoor fun to you. There are many wheelchairs on the market that allow you to venture into the outside world, I’ve tried two – the Boma – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayeUCvj4D5Q and the Trekinetic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0VCTpguiLo and I can promise they are loads of fun. My local sports centre has a climbing wall and does mountain climbing for us wheelchair users, and there are loads of other such sports open to you. The stereotype of a wheelchair user is no longer true mate, we are eating up dangerous and outdoor sports and creating new ones too. Look online and get out there.
But most important, you are no different to the person you were before the accident. You just use a different mechanism for getting around. Sure other bits of your body might work differently too, but you are still you. And your partner loves you. Take that love at face value. Don’t over think it, or let the way society paints disability make you doubt it. Us wheelies are very loveable types and we make great partners. If for no other reason than it’s easy to keep us in bed… just take our chair away!
I wish you loads of luck and happiness. I hope the big day goes well. Now stop worrying and kiss your partner, get on online, get a great all terrain wheelchair and get out there. Hopefully I’ll see you scooting up a mountain somewhere? I’m easy to spot, I’ve got stupid red hair… and my wife hair is bright blue!

 

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