Update and a poem – A Wheelchair Called Wilmer

I have just returned from a trip to Ireland; it has taken me over a year to do it.
Until now I simply haven’t had the emotional strength to accomplish it, as the
only way it was possible was with the aid of a wheelchair.
As I “grow into” managing chronic illness, I am re-learning the process of
acceptance with all its complexities. The biggest thing I have learned so far
is to have compassion for myself. The numerous hurdles will be cleared
when it is their time; I have ceased berating myself for taking “too long” to
accomplish the next thing. One of these next things is to actually own a
wheelchair rather than hire one. This may or may not happen soon.
I just need to keep chipping away at my part of the process.

The following poem was written in Ireland after my first long wheelchair “trek”.

A Wheelchair Called Wilmer

It was definitely on its last wheels,
heavily weighed down with ghost scars,
years of invisible struggles piled,
precarious, on an old sagging seat.
If I hadn’t been so heavily reliant,
I would have jumped off and
helped it into the lift.

Then a waitress on the ferry
knocked it as she passed.
It quivered like a frightened dog
and I felt sad.
A strange feeling of empathy
washed over me and I reached out
and touched it, gave it a name.
I told her not to fret and said
this time she could travel light.
There would be no scars left by me;
this was going to be a good trip.

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57 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cynthia Jobin
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:01:05

    That your own suffering is translated into compassion for an old rented wheelchair…I find this a very moving poem, Christine……(a moving poem about mobility!)

    Reply

  2. Ina
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:02:28

    Hi Christine,

    what a nice poem, and a good thing you did the trip! It must have been awesome to see the family there! I can imagine you were reluctant to use a chair but Wilmer has been a good companion! Loved reading this! You always know how to put things in the right perspective!

    I am getting used to my walking cane (and I wrote a poem about it today as well! ) . Those items are useful! They make a lot of difference in mobilty. But I must admit…. for me too it takes a bit of time to accept. With any aid this probably is the case. 🙂

    Enjoy your memories of Ireland!

    L&H xx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:29:16

      Thank you Ina!

      Yes, it was wonderful to see the looks of delight on all the faces in Ireland when we arrived!! David, our son, has a posh coffee machine. And as I am now off dairy and drink almond milk, he spent the weekend proudly presenting me with almond lattes! Gorgeous!

      Looking forward to your poem too! As you say these things are useful, and sometimes more than useful, as my few days in Ireland would have become a chore without the chair. And to be in Ireland for baby Tess’s first birthday was a joy and worth every minute of the struggle leading up to finally getting there 🙂

      L&H xx

      Reply

      • Ina
        Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:38:36

        It must have been a very special occasion for you and your husband, to see them again 🙂 Almond lattes dound great!
        The poem is up now 🙂
        L&H xx

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:42:08

      Yes it was! On my way over to your blog! L&H xx

      Reply

  3. Jackie
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 14:04:01

    Words can’t really express properly what I feel in my heat when I read this post! You are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing this. x*hugs*x

    Reply

  4. lscotthoughts
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:08:37

    This is very touching, Chris, to feel and show compassion for a wheelchair and then express it so beautifully is beyond amazing…I’m glad you are no longer berating yourself and I’m also happy that you had a wonderful time. Now you can check one more accomplishment off your list and concentrate on the next! 🙂 Sending much and many hugs your way! xoxo HBL ♥

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:14:19

      Thanks so much Lauren!

      Yes! It’s a great feeling to cross something off the list as “done”! Here’s to many more accomplishments; life is never boring that’s for sure!! Lol

      ❤ Xxx HBL

      Reply

  5. leamuse
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:14:59

    Oh Christine, that is so like you. To take something you are struggling with and reach out in kindness. You are such an amazing woman.
    Ghost scars! I love that and may have to “borrow” the image at some point.
    Perhaps your next book includes Wilmer and other “friends” along your path?
    Love,
    Lea
    XxXx

    Reply

  6. countingducks
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:17:28

    That is just the sort of thing I would do if I had a wheel chair and someone knocked it. You talk about learning to accept and everything but frankly , however you feel, and I’m sure many days are different, you have courage and guts in spades and I couldn’t admire the way you deal with things more. I really hope the trip to Ireland had some high spots, and I’m really pleased you were able to make it

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 15:39:18

      Thanks so much Peter!

      Yes the trip had many high spots, not least of which was our baby granddaughter’s first birthday. In fact I found the whole trip quite emotional and kept having to pinch myself to make sure I was actually there!

      Your comments always encourage me to forge ahead. Oh, and by the way I am still laughing out loud at your interview!!! 🙂

      Reply

  7. bennetta faire
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 18:29:47

    OH My Goodness, Christine!!! This is phenomenal–not just the fab poem, but all the wisdom and compassion that bursts from each line. You are doing SO WELL–I’m glad for you, and so proud to call you my friend. God bless you as you continue the Journey–He is there with you Every Step (and wheel). Much love, Caddo–Hs and Ss

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 19:22:58

      Thanks so much Bennetta! You are so encouraging and I dont know what I would do without you!

      Now, get out those sweet onion crisps!! We will divide them equally and then dig in to coconut pud!!

      Lots of love

      Hs and Ss xxx

      Reply

      • bennetta faire
        Sep 11, 2013 @ 00:17:43

        Ha ha ha–I just ate 3 tamales!! But never fear, in a couple hours I’ll be ready for crisps (although I think there’s only crumbs in the bag)–and I’ll make that pudding pronto, so hop a plane and get here quick!

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 11, 2013 @ 09:58:46

      Im on my way!! Xxxx

      Reply

  8. bardessdmdenton
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 20:15:10

    Animating that poor old wheelchair, befriending it and caring about it – what a wonderful way to physically and emotionally move forward, Christine! I am so glad you finally made this trip and now know there is nothing stopping you that can’t be overcome. You are an inspiration to us all! Wonderful, wonderful poem! Love and hugs and blessings, Diane ♥

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 10, 2013 @ 20:29:03

      Thank you so much Diane! Your comments always mean so much to me. They are given with such love.

      It was all so worth the anguish that led up to the trip. Nothing comes easy; whatever we achieve is as a result of hard work, as you well know from the achievement of your novel and other publications. But look at the results! A cause for celebration! Lets have a virtual coffee together! 🙂

      Lots of love and hugs ❤ xxx

      Reply

  9. hollyannegetspoetic
    Sep 10, 2013 @ 22:06:35

    It’s the empathy and simplicity of these little moments that make them feel so real to me. Hope you’re enjoying your trip away Christine. xx

    Reply

  10. beckarooney
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 17:08:48

    I’m glad you had such a good trip Christine, Ireland is a beautiful place 🙂 this poem and all your others shows compassion beyond words, I know I’ve said it before but you are an incredibly inspirational person. Great post as always, thanks for sharing 🙂 x

    Reply

  11. I HAVE A VOICE
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 19:09:57

    First & foremost, I’m happy you were able to travel and have certain changes in your routine. As a wheelchair & bedridden & respirator dependent ~ I take real care & gratitude for all these things are still God-sent gifts to help us endure & keep fulfilling our mission on earth. I thoroughly understand your oneness with your wheelchair ~ beautifully written !

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 11, 2013 @ 19:24:11

      Thank you very much Debbie. I am so new to disability I still find it very difficult sometimes to come to terms with it and consequently I am humbled by your comment.

      It was indeed wonderful to be in different suroundings, difficult though it was not to have things to hand as I have at home. I have adapted things at home unconciously really and even “small” things like the shower etc were very dificult to negotiate and very tiring. However Im pleased I did it and was able to celebrate our granddaughters first birthday. It felt like an achievement.

      MS is a teacher; it seems as though it is harsh in its love, because I know I am growing through it day by day. It seems we have to lose something in order to gain more. Xx

      Reply

  12. suzywordmuser
    Sep 12, 2013 @ 17:55:02

    I’m guessing relying on a wheelchair to get you around, must be a bit of a love hate relationship! My mum relied on a wheelchair for the last few years of her life, all because of Rheumatoid Arthritis. She refused to use one for years, as I think she felt if she did, that would mean she’d somehow given up. But like you, she learned to appreciate it in the end, and realised it was a million miles away from a life largely confined to a bed – not a good way to live! 😦

    I like the way you’ve made the wheelchair a ‘she’ and that ‘she’ as much as you would prefer another kind of friend – really is your reliable friend! 🙂

    Reply

    • Journeyintopoetry
      Sep 12, 2013 @ 18:59:54

      Thank you Suzy!

      I can understand that your mum could feel like she had given up once she used one. It’s similar to how I feel in a way.

      There are other things too, one being that for me it marks a point where my condition became worse and true to its name, “progresive”. It’s also stupidly a matter of pride and not wanting to be seen as “different”.. Its so complex, there isnt just one simple reason why its hard to accept. But like anything, when youve had enough pain you change something. My pain was that I was losing out on so many lovely things because I wouldn’t use one, and when the desire ro do something outweighs the fear, pride, anxiety or whatever it is then we do it! And Im so pleased I got there! Acceptance is a process and we need to be patient with ourselves and allow it to take its time, at the same time never giving up! Xx

      Reply

  13. harulawordsthatserve
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 07:38:46

    I’m so glad you made it to Ireland Christine – how wondneful! I’ve only been once, and I loved it…and I LOVE this poem! It’s incredibly touching, and feels very real, a sense of partnership in a ‘we’ll get through this together’ kind of way. I laughed out loud at the line about helping ‘her’ into the lift! I’ve always named my cars (my current transport companion is called ‘Grace’) and I do think it makes a difference. My first car, Harry, took such good care of me when I was still learning to drive. Blessings on this journey, and take it as slow as you need – better to keep taking little steps forward that trying to leap, and then having to back track. Lots of love to you, Harula xxxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 13, 2013 @ 11:46:23

      Thank you very much Harula! Yes you are right, it is about us (the chair and me) getting through this together! And we will,

      I love the names of your cars! I had to smile as when I was a child I had an imaginary friend called Grace!! I wonder what she’s doing now!! Lol my youngest daughter has just acquired her first car and she is a “namer” too! She calls it Bluebell!

      And as you so wisely say little ateps forward are the key 🙂

      Lots of love to you too
      Xxx

      Reply

  14. Jane Thorne
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 09:40:20

    You live from your heart Chris and it is humbling to share your journey. We all do what we can, when the time feels right for us…your heart reveals the next part when your loving eyes see it. Having a cup of tea with you my lovely right now, and I am so glad you had your much longed for trip to Ireland….go Chris. Pants over tights and flick that funky cape my lovely friend. Xxx

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 13, 2013 @ 11:49:07

      Thank you so much Jane! Your comments are always full of encouragement and love and they are so appreciated.

      Now on with that cape! Oh but before I do, fancy a top up of tea fom a ditsy teapot?! 🙂

      Xxx

      Reply

      • Jane Thorne
        Sep 13, 2013 @ 11:56:15

        Oh yes please….I heard a phrase on the radio the other day used about Margaret Hodge the MP. I missed the first few words, but caught the next as they called her ‘door ramming, bosom busting’….Ah, and there is a description for most women I thought to myself!! Much teapot love to you Chris. Biggest hugs. Xxx

  15. journeyintopoetry
    Sep 13, 2013 @ 11:59:05

    “Door ramming…bosom busting”” – love it!!

    Love and hugs to you too! Xxx

    Reply

  16. Francina
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 09:02:29

    oh yes… there is Chris wheeling my socks off with this marvelous poem! Super poem , dear Christine… you are such an amazing beautiful person to feel empathy for Wilmer.. the old beaten up wheelchair. …
    lots of love and hugs from across the creek xoxo

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 17, 2013 @ 09:09:29

      Hi Francina,

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment which has brightened my day! It is grey and dull outside but I feel warm inside after reading this. You are a great support and friend. 🙂

      Love and hugs
      Xxx

      Reply

  17. Libby
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 15:35:38

    So glad you managed the trip so positively. I enjoyed the poem.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 18, 2013 @ 15:42:09

      Thanks so much Libby!

      I dont think I will ever “get used” to a wheelchair, but once over the fear/anxiety/pride/denial etc etc etc!!, it does make life much easier and means I can actually move forward and have a good life rather than hiding away which is what I think I have been doing. But as I said it isall a process and we arrive prepared for the next thing when we are ready. 🙂

      Reply

  18. elainecanham
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:49:02

    I loved this. Have you read Flann O’Brien? It just reminded of his story about how bicycles are becoming more human (and vice versa). Sounds weird, but it’s very witty.

    Reply

  19. Betty Hayes Albright
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 22:40:11

    Christine, I love this! It’s touching and sweet – and perceptive – your affection for Wilmer. If only he could talk, huh?
    Really glad you had a successful trip to Ireland, and that you’re back safe and sound. Missed you!

    Reply

  20. Eleni
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 08:14:09

    Hi Christine. I just love this poem! As I was reading it I felt as if Wilmer and I were old friends and I couldn’t help but feel compassion for her; yet at the same time I sensed a gentle joy within, because I had been given the opportunity to encounter her. I look forward to reading more of your poetry.

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 08:30:52

      Hi Eleni, its lovely to meet you!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment on this poem. The whole wheelchair thing is still very difficult for me, having always been very active and of course in my head I still am! So writing about it helps me to express what otherwise jus runs ragged inside my head!

      I only started writing when I was diagnosed 2years ago and it is turning out to be the one thing that has kept me sane. (Well, as sane as I will ever be!)

      Im on my way over to visit tour blog. Thanks so much for following mine. X

      Reply

  21. PookyH
    Sep 28, 2013 @ 09:51:33

    Amazing how a rusty old chair can evoke such feelings of compassion – but it does!

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 09:54:48

      Thank you very much! Yes it rather surprised me where this poem came from, although it has been a rather sensitive issue for a few months while I got my head round actually sitting in one. And Wilmer was doing her best to make life easier for me! 🙂

      Reply

      • PookyH
        Sep 28, 2013 @ 10:09:44

        In which case, well done Wilmer! I can’t imagine the emotional, as well as physical journey your illness takes you on.

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 10:15:29

      There is one huge bonus which has come out of this horible condition and that is my poetry. I had never written a word before disgnosis, and now I share poetry with many new friends all over the world! 🙂

      Reply

  22. elizfrat
    Sep 29, 2013 @ 07:54:37

    What a beautiful and well written piece! I thought it was clever that you conveyed your own condition through empathy with the chair, but with such a light touch, and enjoyed it very much. I have just discovered your blog and look forward to reading more 🙂

    Reply

    • journeyintopoetry
      Sep 29, 2013 @ 08:33:22

      Thank you so much for isiting and for leaving this heartwarming comment.

      As you may have read in my “About Me” poetry is a completely new adventure for me; I had never written before my diagnosis but I am sure it has saved my sanity over the first two very difficult years. I have a lot to learn but I am enjoying pouring my heart out onto blank sheets which neither judge or expect anything from me other than my own truth.

      Your comment is so very much appreciated.

      Best wishes

      Christine

      Reply

  23. Fergiemoto
    Oct 02, 2013 @ 20:29:55

    I can feel the pain and empathy. Very touching, Christine.

    Reply

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