I know that this post has a VERY strong title – but we had our first real snow in Pittsburgh this past week. And while it was relatively small – only two or three inches, it really reminded me how much I hate the snow and the cold!
I’m sure part of the reason that I hate it is for the same reason that so many people do – being cold is not fun, and it can be pretty miserable to be outside on a 20 degree day. But it goes beyond that for me. My disability, and my wheelchair, make the cold and the snow especially challenging.
The cold alone is a struggle for me. I have really bad circulation because I can’t move my feet and legs, so I’m cold enough in general – but when you add in winter temperatures, it just makes it even worse! If I try to bundle up when I’m outside, each additional layer I wear makes it more and more difficult to use my arms and hands. This is actually why I wear so much cashmere in the winter – it’s lightweight and warm, so I can still move around (fairly) easy.
And then jackets! In Pittsburgh, it’s kind of hard to go outside in winter without wearing a jacket, but I’ve basically tried each and every possible way to get around it. Jackets are a huge problem for me. I can’t get them on and off myself (and honestly – sometimes they’re even tough to get one when someone else is putting it on me, depending on the jacket). That means that I can’t go outside by myself – or if I do, I need to be okay with wearing my jacket the whole time whenever I get to wherever I’m going. And if layering on clothes makes it hard for me to move, jackets make it much, much harder. I try to get around this by wearing capes and wraps, but sometimes, it’s just too cold.
And snow! Snow just adds suuuuch an additional layer of annoyance (to put it mildly) to winter for me. I hear this “joke” all the time (please – don’t say this to someone who uses a wheelchair!): “Does that thing have four wheel drive??” No, it does not. If sidewalks aren’t shoveled, my chair can have issues making it through the snow, and if you add in ice, it can become near-impossible! This mostly means where I go is super, super limited – it’s already hard enough for me to deal with the cold; when I have to be outside even longer because I’m struggling to navigate the sidewalks, it’s honestly just miserable. And to make matters even worse, when streets are plowed, the piles of snow end up riiiiight in front of the curb cuts. So I have to go out of my way, find a clear curb cut, cross the street, and backtrack to where I actually wanted to go. And if I’m being driven somewhere rather than walking, if we try to park on the street, the snow that piles up at the curb makes a barrier for the ramp in my minivan, so my mom has to go out, pat the snow down with her feet, and then let me out of the car.
I know that all of this sounds annoying – but it’s hard to explain the actual impact it has on my life. It basically means that I just… stay home, and stay inside during the winter. It can be pretty limiting, and when the days are already short and dark, it can really put a damper on my mood if I can’t get outside at all. It actually does make me grateful to be working from home, because I don’t have to worry about a lot of the issues on a daily basis. When people talk about loving the snow, and how pretty it is, this post is more or less what goes through my mind each and every time, so I thought it’d be interesting (hopefully!) to help you all understand my life during these months a little bit more.