Wheelchair-User and cure advocate Kristina Rhoades Shares Below Why It’s Important to Connect with Fellow Female Rollers!
Let’s hear it for the ladies… The mothers, the sisters, the partners, the aunts, the grandmas, the daughters, the friends. You’re leaders and fashionistas and activists and nurturers.
You make life possible on this planet, and you do it with grace.
But, it’s not always easy. Sometimes, amidst the cooking, the styling, the cleaning, the carpooling, the careers, the bills – we can get a little lost and forget to take care of ourselves.
Add a spinal cord injury/disorder or other medical condition into the mix, and life can be even more overwhelming at times. There’s a lot to being female that a wheelchair and paralysis can make much more challenging.
Women who use wheelchairs have many unique issues to deal with and finding others who share the same experiences can be helpful and healing.
Often, our busy lives keep us from seeking out connections with others to whom we can really relate and learn from, outside of our family or coworkers. But, it’s important that we do. Ask any woman with close female friends what those relationships mean to her. The feminine bond is a powerful thing.
Making friends with other rolling women can help support many areas of your life.
Wellness for women who use wheelchairs
While it can be super frustrating dealing with the medical issues that often come with a disability, it can be something of a relief finding others who go through the same stuff. In connecting with other women in wheelchairs, you’ll see that many understand what it’s like to struggle with UTI’s, worry about pressure sores and bone density, and manage muscle spasms and pain.
You’ll quickly discover that others have found solutions and remedies that help them and their various ailments – and they’re more than willing to share. It might be a supplement for UTI’s, a change in diet to help digestion, a daily stretch for muscle spasms, or they can recommend a local physical therapist or doctor that they enjoy.
Part of staying well for people with paralysis is also using the right catheter for your individual needs.
Fashion & Style for women who roll
Women who roll have to get creative when it comes to fashion and style. If you’re going at it alone, with no one to bounce ideas off of, it can be tough. But, by building some relationships, you’ll discover that many women that have been rolling for a while have some great advice to offer.
Get advice on wearing high heels, helping legs stay put while wearing a skirt, selecting styles that look great sitting down and so much more.
Limited hand dexterity can also make dressing and doing hair and makeup much more challenging. But, alas, there are women out there that have mastered their techniques and are passionate about teaching others.
Check out the Rollette’s Steph Aiello on Instagram for tips and videos!
Intimacy & Parenting for women
Hey, we get it. Intimacy with paralysis or any disability can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re new to this life. But, simply talking with someone who has done it before can do wonders to alleviate some of the worry. Trust us, you can still be sexy and intimate and desirable on wheels.
When it comes to being pregnant, giving birth and parenting a newborn and toddler on wheels, do yourself a favor and seek some advice from women who have been there and done that. That’s not to say you won’t be able to figure it all out on your own, but you’ll definitely learn some tricks that will make it all easier if you tap into that rolling sisterhood.
Spotlight: Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence
Within a few weeks after her SCI, Jenn Sexton had transferred to Atlanta’s Shepherd Center for additional rehab and help in adjusting to life in a wheelchair. Fiercely independent, Jennifer was a staff sergeant at Shaw Air Force Base prior to her accident.
More than anything else, she wanted two things: a healthy baby and her sense of self back. When she returned home to South Carolina, Jenn faced the challenges of having a new normal, and new way of getting around, along with the rest of her pregnancy. She was determined to make it work. And she did, giving birth to her healthy son, Thomas, on September 10, 2013.The only question now was how was she going to take care of him…and herself while her husband was at work?
Motivation & Emotional Support for women who roll
We all need to be inspired and we all need to know that someone else understands our struggles. When we’re just trying to live our lives and something less than favorable happens related to our disability – such as falling out of our chair, getting sick, having an accident or not having access to a public place – it can cause us to feel alone, embarrassed, angry or unwanted.
But, when we’re able to reach out to a friend that has experienced the same thing, it’s much easier to lighten up, laugh, process and move on.
When you develop a tribe of women who share your struggles, you are there to encourage each other when times get tough.
Having another gal in a chair to share social activities with can be great, too. Going dancing, working out and play dates with kids are all fun to do with your rolling lady friends – as you can truly share all aspects of the experience, and tackle any challenges together. Plus, you can share any life hacks that make tasks easier in a chair, such as grocery shopping, cooking and doing laundry.
Advocacy for women who use wheelchairs
As you connect with other women in wheelchairs, whether through local peer support groups, adaptive sports or social media, you’re bound to find some advocates that fight for the rights we all benefit from. Or maybe YOU are the community leader and there’s someone out there that needs to learn from you.
Access to crucial medical equipment, medicine and medical procedures, patient rights, funding for disability programs and health insurance are all influenced by legislation – and as wheelchair users and women, these things have tremendous impact on our quality of life.
If you’re not already an advocate or community leader, connecting with other women who are is a great first step.
Connecting with Women on Wheels – Find or Share a Support Group Near You
Women on Wheels Support Group
Location: Sharp Memorial Rehabilitation Center, Conference Room 4 (Room 21)
Address: 2999 Health Center Dr. San Diego, CA 92123
When: 1st Tuesday of every month 12:30-2:00 PM
Women’s SCI Life Series Group
Address: 9631 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324
Contact: Michele Altamurano – 818-335-1279
When: 3rd Wednesday of every month 7-8:30PM
Women’s SCI Support Group
Location: Rancho Los Amigos Rehab., RANCHO Wellness Center
Address: 7601 East Imperial Hwy Downey, CA 90242
When: 1st Friday of every month 12:00-1:30 PM
Spinal Cord Injury Support Group for Women
Location: Shepherd Center, Marcus Building, 2nd Floor Classroom
Address: 2020 Peachtree Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30309
Contact: Minna Hong, 404-350-7373
MobileWomen.org (Facebook group)
Wheels and Heels
Wheel MommiesSee our full list of SCI/D peer support groups in the U.S. here! Do you know of a local or online support group that isn’t listed here? Comment below with the details and we’ll be happy to add it!
Note: The information in this article should not be construed as medical advice. Please contact your physician for questions about your individual health.
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