18. In a House not Built for a Wheelchair User


After three months in hospital, I returned home
to a house not built for a wheelchair user.

Even at snail speed,
my manual wheelchair can’t scale upWheelchairRampAt2500AugustineBlvd
the steep driveway.
At its top, the wheelchair
can just squeeze into
the small front porch
but can’t hop over the threshold.
Now I make a grand entrance
up a custom made ramp
through the garage into the hallway.450px-Roraima_Rampa


my home has become a strange land:
In the kitchen I enjoyed creating new dishes,
wall mounted cupboards have become summits;
floor standing cupboards, deep
underground caves;
bench top, a high plateau;
cook top, a land of fire hazards;
kitchen tap, unreachable water source;
wall sockets, tantalizersEntradaCuevaConejar
at the furthest corner.
All inaccessible now.



The top shelves of book cases, food cupboard, airing cupboard, and
walk-in wardrobe are
Himalayas summits
only for carers to reach.
I keep my basic essentials
in the lower base camps.


The elegant hexagonal sitting room has become
an overcrowded furniture showroom,
to allow more space in the frequently used dining area,
surrounded by reachable racks, drawers, and table tops.


The cozy ensuite the wheelchair can barely squeeze in.
The shower cubicle I can no longer hop into.
I transfer onto a specially made cushioned chair
securely placed across the bathtub,Wheelyboat_at_the_Corbet_Lough,_near_Banbridge_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1400565
to shower into it,
holding onto a handrail on the wall,
like sitting in a stationary boat.
But I have to disembark later
to use a shower commode
in the modified ensuite.


All of the taps in the bathroom and kitchen
need longer handles and spouts.
The toilet has handrails installed on the walls
to help me make a stand up transfer
between wheelchair and toilet seat.


From the hospital’s pressure reduction mattress
back to my firm chiropractic mattress
is a shock to my painful neuropathic buttocks, legs and back.
Thick, soft, medical grade sheep skin rugs
now feature 
among pillows for popping up my back
when I sleep on my side.

In a house not built for a wheelchair user,
I can still go down a ramp
out into the backyard garden pergola,
early in the morning,
to practice deep breathing and meditation,
amidst birds singing, yodeling, whistling, twittering, chirping,
and the murmuring of the distant traffic.





A Wheelchair Ramp. Photo: author unknown.
CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License,  via Wikimedia Commons –

La Rampa, Mount Roraima, Venezuela. Photo by Portodaspartes.
CCA 2.0 Generic License, via Wikimedia Commons –

Entrance to Cave Conejar, Spain. (Entrada de la Cueva de El Conejar, en Cáceres, Extremadura (España)).
Photo by Mario Modesto.  CC A-SA 3.0 Unported License

Gasherbrum II, Camp at elevation 5900 m, Karakoram, Pakistan.
Photo by Olaf Rieck. CC A-SA license.

A Wheelyboat. Photo by Albert Bridge.
CC A-SA 2.0 License,  via Wikimedia Commons –

‘Hwajodo’ (Flowers and Birds), a genre painting of Minhwa (Korea folk painting), Joseon Dynasty,  Korea.
Author Anonymous. Public Domain work of art,  via Wikimedia Commons

‘Birds and Flowers’ by Imanaka Soyu of Taisho period, Japan.
CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication License,  via Wikimedia Commons –

2 thoughts on “18. In a House not Built for a Wheelchair User

  1. Thank you, KK. I lived with you in your chair for a moment or two and felt a small something of what you know so continuously. I love the image of the summits! and lower camps! I bend there as I remember you.

    Love, Di

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