Call me a dreamer, but I had always imagined that my marriage would consist of just the two of us until forever. So I have been somewhat unwilling to accept that our party of two has become a party of three. I’m not talking children…they are our family (and they take our number much higher than three). I’m talking only about our ‘one-on-one-just-you-and-me-until-death-do-us-part’ marriage. You know the one right?
It’s not that we have been inundated with love affairs (I actually have yet to understand how any parent has time for those) and it isn’t that a best friend has somehow become a permanent third wheel. No…our third wheel has four wheels. And unlike some sort of relative who needs a place to stay for a few weeks, this intruder is never leaving…like ever (although really, neither would the relative).
If you haven’t figured it out…it’s my wheelchair. And really, it’s in the title so I sincerely hope you had figured it out.
Relationships and marriages all function so differently. Expectations change from couple to couple and sometimes it’s really difficult to understand what makes another couple work. Since my injury, Ian and I have been told numerous times that he is amazing and that I am so lucky that he has stayed with me and been the support that he has been.
Ok so wait. Hold up. I’m sorry everyone but are you suggesting that you would expect my husband to take off running? (Which would kind of be showing off at this particular stage in my life) The thing is, Ian is not the kind of man who leaves. The thing is, I knew that when I married him. The thing is, that is real, true, can’t live without you love.
Throughout this entire ordeal, Ian has been the man I always knew he would be. When I used to allow myself to think of ‘worst case scenario’ situations, barring infidelity, there wasn’t a single one where I would have expected anything else from him. Including the addition of a wheelchair in to our marriage (and everything else that came with it). And it has never once felt like he is with me because “it’s the right thing to do”. He is here because we have a really amazing marriage.
But still, this wheelchair is now a permanent fixture in our life. It goes where I go – unless I forget to apply my brakes on a hill or something…then I go where it goes. We decided it needed a name because it’s more fun that way. After a few rejected ideas we decided on the name Vanna…partly because I like it but mostly because my chair is white and Vanna White just works for some reason.
Even in the most intimate of times, Vanna is there…like a dog staring from the end of the bed. I transfer to the couch or to the bed, but the damn chair is always close by because at some point I will have to move and that is pretty impossible without Vanna. Occasionally when Vanna and I aren’t on speaking terms because I’m tired of her always being around, I will get a piggy-back ride to my next destination. However my feuds with her are usually pretty short lived because I remember that she is the reason I am not living my life from a bed. It’s not her fault I can’t walk and she is truly the solution to my problem. She is my lifeline.
My husband’s toes have been rolled over one or two hundred times and he has to ‘take a knee’ in order to give me a hug. He cannot spot me in a store because I’m smaller than the racks and we have to plan our outings a lot more carefully now. Spontaneous outings and spontaneous travel isn’t really a thing for us anymore. While I continue to work towards independence I am still reliant on him in a lot of ways but that’s hopefully temporary. The house chores are split differently than they used to be. Figuring out how to get kids here, there and everywhere has gotten a bit more complicated. Our patience levels are less than exceptional and we both still get angry at the universe some days for putting us in the position of having to include Vanna in our lives at all. We spend time thinking about how our future plans will have to be altered to accommodate our third wheel…travel, retirement and growing old in general is all a bit scarier now.
It hasn’t been easy. It’s been really ridiculously hard. But we’re continuing to work through all of these changes because he’s worth it and I’m worth it. Our marriage is worth it and our family is definitely worth it. For whatever reason we are still in love. I can still make him laugh and he still make me feel like I’m the only woman in the world. So, Vanna or no Vanna, we are going to keep doing this life together because the thought of doing it without each other sounds like hell after we’ve already been through hell.
Almost every day there is something that is made more difficult because of Vanna. Rain, snow, flat tires, stairs, thick grass, sand, small doorways, inaccessible washrooms, children’s bath time, 2 year old tantrums and the list goes on and on and on. We do our best to work around the chair but when we can’t, Vanna wins. It is mostly annoying because it means I don’t win (and I kind of like getting my way). Regardless it’s beyond comforting to know that the man I married is exactly who I thought he was and that we always have each other’s back – well except that time mine literally broke…so figuratively speaking, we always have each other’s back.
The wheelchair will always be around but we are learning to embrace it. I may not be able to get off of my ass but the chair gets my ass around and for that we are thankful. And we will just have to come around to the idea that it will always be the three of us – me, my husband and my wheelchair (now more affectionately known as Vanna).