It seemed like it was going to be such a simple thing to do. Over the summer, I did several things to brighten my home environment a bit. I got a new entertainment center, new area rugs for the living room, and some updated outdoor furniture. The process of redecorating has given me a boost, and I wanted to keep going. A few months ago, I decided to look for a new recliner for my living room. Having the option to get out of my wheelchair while relaxing and watching a movie appealed to me.
People bought new furniture all the time, right? This was going to be an easy task. Or so I thought. Boy was I wrong. I started the process by picking out a recliner that I liked. When it was delivered, I quickly discovered that my spastic legs don’t move well on polyester. I slip and slide all over the place., and I can’t get enough traction to get my butt far enough back to be comfortable. That means I don’t have any balance. I sent the first chair back. From experience, I knew that I couldn’t have a chair that was leather either. I’m not at all solid when I was sitting in a leather chair, and I have similar issues when I sit in a chair covered in polyester.
The next recliner checked all my boxes. It was a velour type of material, and it was incredibly attractive, which I was pretty psyched about. But I couldn’t reach the handle to manually raise the footrest on my own. I did not have enough leg strength to do so either. It also didn’t give me a whole lot of support for my head and neck as I sat in it. Feeling a bit discouraged, I sent that chair back as well.
After all of that, it became clear to me that I was looking for a power recliner made of a soft but not too squishy material. Since leather and polyester didn’t work, and I needed additional specific features because of my disability, about 95% of my options were off the table. The bottom line was that I looked for weeks at about eight online sites and took a trip to Nebraska Furniture Mart before I found a recliner that works for me. Thank God for Amazon.
The whole experience shook me. I have said for years that I don’t think I would trade my life and the experiences I’ve had for the ability to walk. I probably would not take a “magic pill” to get rid of my cerebral palsy. My life, with my disability, is all that I’ve ever known.
Therefore, I don’t really mind having to rely on caregivers for many basic things I do. Most of the time, I don’t mind making the adaptions that I make to get things done that people without disabilities can do easily. Like always, I just try to play the hand that I have been dealt with as much dignity as possible.
The thing is, it is not usually the big things about my disability that bother me (although not being able to drive can be a consistent drag.) When my disability interferes with things like the kind of furniture I get to pick for my home, I get upset.
For a long time, people who know me well have heard me say that I want to be treated like everyone else. I also want to have the same choices as everyone else. I understand that having a hard time picking out a recliner is absolutely a first-world problem and my experiencing frustration and discouragement while doing so is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. This situation simply magnified one of the ways I am different from most others. When an issue hits me in the face like that, I always take it hard.
Pottery Barn recently came out with a line of accessible furniture. Every piece in the collection is costly but the desks are high enough for wheelchair users to roll under and, if I remember correctly, I think some of the beds are higher off the ground, making them easier to transfer to and from. I love the fact that Pottery Barn has made the effort to be more inclusive to those of us with mobility issues. I think that is certainly a step in the right direction. I hope other companies follow suit. I can’t be the only wheelchair user who has encountered an issue like this.
I just wanted a recliner. Even though it took so much more effort than I expected, I am glad I finally got one.