Facing Five Miserable Months of Winter as a Wheeler

5303766358_477e196dfd_nWhether you live in Miami, California or anywhere warm, get ready — this is the blog post that will make you feel better about yourself. For the rest of you (me included) who live in colder climates, and know Old Man Winter all too well (you may even be ready to split from him for good), this is the blog post I’m sure you can relate to.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why in the heck am I still living here?” every time November rolls around, this is for you. Why do we stay? When you have a disability, there are a lot of reasons to fear moving away from your comfort zone — unless of course you don’t have a comfort zone and are trying to finally find one.

For me, it may be an arctic un-Wonderland five months out of the year around here, but everything I need is here — my emotional comfort zone outweighs the weather outside. Minnesota may be incredibly cold, but it offers amazing healthcare for people with disabilities.  Everything is paid for if you qualify — PCAs, supplies, a new power chair every five years.

This means you never have to worry if you’ll get out of bed or if you’ll get clean catheters that month — basic things you shouldn’t have to worry about. But when you’re a quadriplegic, disruptive things can happen just like that. So to make sure my life is as stress-free as possible, I’ve stayed here. Many of us also stay because of family and friends.  If you have a great support network, the thought of leaving it behind rather than face winter as a wheeler can be unthinkable too.

However I will admit  I’ve been nearly lured to Colorado, San Diego, even Tampa, Fla., in my years; all very appealing to a wheeler for all very attractive reasons (great weather, great healthcare, a lot of things to do, etc.) … yet I remain in the arctic tundra of the north. Why?

It’s kind of ridiculous when you think about it, but I know a lot of wheelers out there who are in the same boat as me, facing months of winter ahead; less sunlight, getting stuck in the snow wherever they go, feeling cold all the time, never going out and having no social life. Yet family, friends and so much more can make us stay.

And funnily enough, there are some crazy wheelers that actually like the snow. Many are mono and bi-skiers and get on the slopes whenever they can. Colorado particularly is a haven for these snow loving-wheelers. When you know you’ll be living in a cold climate for awhile, that really is the smart thing to do anyway — force yourself to like something about the cold weather. Whether it’s getting into adapted ice-curling, sit-hockey or just enjoying the scenery, it’s a great way to survive winter without going crazy.

I always say that the best way to cope with the impending winter is to know you have a trip to somewhere warm planned — if you can swing it that is. If you know you’ll be going to Mexico two months from now, the weather outside won’t seem that bad at all, and heck after your trip, spring will be here before you know it (or that’s what you tell yourself at least).

Do you live where it’s cold? How do you cope with long months of winter?

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