Winter in a Wheelchair

I had a really fun weekend – I went to Casellula, a wine and cheese bar in the North Side that also shares a space with a bookstore and event space – and also saw The Color Purple at The Benedum, which was an incredible show!

This weekend was also Light Up Night, which to me, is the official start of winter here in Pittsburgh. Winter is not my favorite time of year. I know that a lot of people don’t like winter – it’s cold, it’s dark, and it snows! But when you’re in a wheelchair, winter is so much more difficult.

The first thing about winter is the clothes. Since I need help getting dressed, more (and heavier) layers means more time in the morning getting dressed – and I talked here about how my mornings are already pretty time-consuming! I also can’t put my jacket on and off by myself, so colder weather means that I’m stuck inside during the day. And if I’m going somewhere with someone who can help me with my jacket, I have to choose my coat carefully – anything too think or too puffy makes it really hard for me to move. This coat at Uniqlo (I wear an out-of-stock kids version, but the women’s version is still for sale) – has been a lifesaver; it’s really lightweight but also really warm! It’s also harder to drive my wheelchair with gloves or mittens on (and again, hard for me to put them on and take them off by myself), so I end up with some really cold fingers for the few minutes that I am outside.

The snow and ice are also huge problems for the wheelchair. When it snows, the streets get cleared, but the sidewalks may or may not. And if they do… the snow plowed from the streets and sidewalks usually ends up piled right at the curb cuts, high enough that my chair can’t drive through. So even if the temperatures weren’t keeping me inside, the piled-up snow traps me, too. And if my wheel hits a chunk of ice on the sidewalk and slides, it could be really dangerous! So I have to plan my sidewalk routes out very carefully, scouting ahead to make sure that the path is clear. Plus, when the snow is all piled up on the side of the street next to the sidewalks, it can be really hard (and sometimes actually impossible) to park on the street, because the ramp that comes out from under our accessible minivan can’t clear the pile of snow.

So, if you see less pictures of me outside, or less exciting activities, you’ll know why! I definitely get cabin fever if I am inside for too long, so hopefully things won’t get too boring around here.

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