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By Catherine A.
I remember when it started. The very day, in fact. I had snuck up into my brother's treehouse, which I wasn't supposed to do. I was only ten at the time, and not the most coordinated girl in the world. Well, my mom yelled at me when she saw me, and it startled me so much I fell. I wasn't hurt badly, but I sprained both my ankles. I remember how much it hurt, and how scared I was. My mom naturally panicked and took me to the hospital, where my ankles were wrapped up and I was given a wheelchair, a big hospital wheelchair which my mom took home with us. For the next month, I really couldn't walk, at least not without quite a bit of pain, I remember how much my feet hurt and ached, and how much I liked that wheelchair, because I didn't have to walk and hurt my feet. I also remember the attention, the gifts I got from my family, a small stuffed elephant from my aunt, a lot of sympathy and get well cards, some with money inside, a dollar or two for ice cream 'when I got better'.
After that, when my ankles were fine again, and the wheelchair was put up in the attic, everything went back to normal for the most part, I was back to normal, no more attention or gifts, but it had all left it's mark. By the time I was 12, I realized that I missed the wheelchair, not only the attention it had gotten me from people, but also the feeling I had when I was in it. I started playing doctor, the innocent kind of doctor, with the other girls from school when they'd come over to my house. One day I got up the nerve to ask my mom about my old wheelchair, if we still had it, and if I could use it in my room to play doctor. To my delight, she said yes to both, and got it down for me. It had been sitting for so long, in the attic, it was covered with dust and cobwebs. I sat within my room for over an hour, cleaning it, armor-alling it, polishing it until it shined. My friends came over and were so impressed that I had a real wheelchair to play doctor in! I was usually the patient in the chair, but I did share, because I was beginning to realize that I also liked looking at other people in wheelchairs. Not erotically at that age, of course, but I didn't shy away when I saw someone in a wheelchair or on crutches. I was curious, very curious as to what it would be like.
For years I played in my wheelchair, innocent at first, then less innocent, trying to imagine all aspects of life from a wheelchair, without the use of my legs. I practiced bathing, getting into bed, even putting in tampons without the use of my legs. I learned, from books and TV, how a paralyzed person transfers from wheelchair to a normal chair, or couch, or tub. I was an expert at making my legs flaccid and limp, not using them at all. At times I'd pretend with an old pair of crutches, sometimes with ace bandages, always trying new ways to 'cripple' myself. The next big change came for me in my first week of high school, though.
Her name was Dina. She had lost the use of her legs to multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair. She was pretty, in a high-school girl way, and very friendly, although she really didn't have any friends. High School is hard enough even for someone without a handicap. Well, after watching her for a couple of days I introduced myself and we became fast friends. We did everything together, shopping, movies, homework, sleep overs, we were best friends as only high school aged girls can be. It didn't take long for me to start asking about her handicap, and it didn't take long for her to feel totally open with me about it, how she could feel her legs, but hey were useless. She let me touch and move them, feel how soft and lifeless they were.
One night, during a sleep over at her house, I saw some forearm crutches in her closet. I asked, and she said that her doctor had been trying to get her to use braces to walk, with crutches, but that she had no interest, it was hard and awkward for her. I asked her if she had the braces, and if I could try them, to see what they were like. She laughed and said sure, I could have them if I wanted, she wanted nothing to do with them. She pulled them out, two plastic below-knee braces with Velcro closures, AFO's she called them. I put them on, then put my sneakers on over them.
I couldn't move ankles at all, really. I grabbed the crutches from her closet and began to crutch around. Dina giggled a lot and said I was a natural, but she was serious about not wanting them and the next day they came home with me. It took another week to get the crutches home, they were a little too obvious to do in the open, but very shortly I had my braces and forearm crutches. The wheelchair was gone now, because an elderly aunt had needed it, and I was too old to play doctor anyway, so I hid the crutches and braces and only used them when I was sure no-one would see me.
My relationship with Dina steadily progressed into high school, and even though I started dating, I was much more interested in Dina. Just watching her do things was amazing to me. It was in my junior year, just after I had started driving, that Dina told me that she was pretty sure she was gay, that boys didn't interest her at all, that she though that women were far more beautiful. She even confided in me that she had masturbated to a playboy centerfold and came three times. She was a wreck as she told me all this, and was crying, confused and not sure if I would run screaming 'DIKE!' all over school. Instead of running or laughing, I did something even I didn't expect. I kissed her, right on the lips. She didn't know whether to cry or scream or anything, so she kissed me back, deeply, and then we just started to laugh and cry and hug, and I held her for a while, and then we became lovers.
That part was kind of a surprise, too. It was a week later, Dina was at my house, and we were the only ones home. We were talking about something or other, when I asked her how she had masturbated with the playboy picture. I had been wondering if and how she could have sex, or orgasms, or anything from a wheelchair. She blushed and said she just did, so I asked if it was in bed or in her wheelchair. She said it was in her wheelchair, before she went to bed. She had found the magazine in a bathroom drawer and was fascinated by the women in it, how beautiful they were, so she took off her panties and masturbated. I asked her to do it for me, and she blushed even more, but said OK.
I helped her take off her skirt and pantyhose, which I had helped her put on earlier, and then I got naked too. I watched Dina as she swung one of her thin, limp legs over the side of her chair and start to rub herself, like I masturbated, but different, too. While she was masturbating in her wheelchair, I put my braces on and crutched over to her, kissing her and then starting to rub her like she was rubbing herself. She started to rub me, too, and said that she could feel comfortable enough to do this with me because I was like her, I was a cripple too. As soon as she said that, I came! I came so hard hearing someone else tell me I was a cripple.
Afterwards Dina and I had many lovemaking sessions, and I always wore the braces. Only once did I ever wear them outside the comfort of my own home, and that was to a mall with Dina, somewhere I wouldn't be readily recognized. I really enjoyed the experience, but it was so hard to get anywhere I knew I wouldn't be recognized I never really did it. It was like that for the next couple of years, until two important things happened. I earned a large art school scholarship, and I found a friend in the local hospital.
The art scholarship was to a prestigious design school in California, a world away from upstate New York. The friend was Mary, and she was a nurses' assistant in a prominent Orthopedic Hospital. After that everything just fell into place so perfectly it was like a dream, or fate, whichever you believe in.
Since the school was so far away, and my family didn't have much money, I knew I wouldn't be getting any surprise visits from anyone while at school. As soon as I was accepted into school, I started working with Mary to bring my plans to reality. I'm not sure how she did it, but three weeks before I was to leave for school, Mary had what I wanted so badly- A fitted pair of full length leg braces with three pairs of interchangeable shoes. I tried them on as soon as I could, and they were perfect! I quickly boxed them up and mailed them to my dorm room on campus, a long with a new pair of aluminum forearm crutches and a new wheelchair, everything I would need to start my new life. It had cost me almost half my savings, but the scholarship was very generous, so I'd be fine once I got to school.
I reached San Francisco in the late afternoon, and caught a bus to the school. I waited for dark to go to my dorm, so no one would really see me walking in. The dorms were very modern, and had elevators and ramps, perfect for someone in a wheelchair. I got to my room and found I was the first one to move in, as I'd hoped. It was a 2-girl room, but I had arrived a full week early, so for the time being I had it to myself. The room was smaller than I'd expected, which could eventually become a problem to me, but it was fine. My packages were there, and I tore them open hurriedly. Immediately I strapped on the steel braces, pinning my nylon-clad legs into their firm embrace. I put the wheelchair in the corner for the time being and went out to walk around the campus. I was actually here, in California, and I was living my life as a handicapped girl!
I got lots of looks that week from co-eds and staff alike. I had a knack for turning heads with my short skirts or shorts, nylons and leg braces, or rolling around in my wheelchair in a skimpy dress, nylons, and the most severe high-heels or boots. I'd go to clubs, bars, all as a crippled girl, I never used my legs at all anymore. It was easiest for me while wearing the braces, because I didn't even have to think about moving my legs by accident, in the braces they wouldn't budge. I got used to public transportation, the busses and trains are great in San Francisco.
It wasn't hard to fool the school staff into thinking I was really handicapped, because they never asked anything about it, and I was still on my parent's medical policy, so there wasn't even any medical history in the school files. As far as my friends, professors, and the school staff knew, I was handicapped, struck by Multiple Sclerosis as a child. (Go with what you know)
For four years of college I pulled it off, and only Dina, whom I still kept in touch with, knew the truth. As I expected, my folks never had the money to visit me, and I only came home for two Holiday breaks. Life as a handicapped woman was wonderful, exciting for me, I didn't want it to end. It was all going so well, until the inevitable happened....
Graduation. It was like a nightmare. I was leaving the safe world of college and entering the job market, where they check on things like medical history, and would certainly frown upon a woman of 22 in a wheelchair and leg braces who didn't have any medical reason for them. I didn't know what to do, after four years of almost complete disuse, my legs had atrophied , so that I really couldn't walk very well anymore. Then, with graduation only two weeks off and all of my major tests and projects completed and turned in, I had the idea. It was crazy, but it was what I wanted, necessary even, so after what I though was careful preparation, I went ahead with it. The plan was to drop a large metal file cabinet onto my back, breaking it and paralyzing me from the waist down, making my life's goal a reality. That was the plan, anyway, but it didn't work that way. The cabinet missed my lower back, but the lawnmower engine block that was for some reason on top of the cabinet didn't. It broke my spine, rather nastily, shattering several vertebrate in the process and rendering me totally numb from just below my breasts down, complete paralysis, which I suppose I should be even more glad for than I really am, because the cabinet did miss my back, but it hit my legs. Both of them. Right above the knees, crushing them and tearing them almost totally off. The doctors did what they could, but it wasn't much. I always wanted to be handicapped, after all.
I was in the hospital for graduation, and about a month after it. Then came Physical Therapy, which I really needed, because even through all my pretending, I'd never imagined how it could really be to be paralyzed, to be leg less. I was a double amputee, both legs gone right about mid-thigh, and I was paralyzed completely from the chest down. I had a lot to get used to, like what was left of my lower body being totally dead, like needing to wear a diaper because of the paralysis, and needing to wear a seat-belt in my wheelchair because my body wasn't strong enough to balance yet without legs, I kept slipping out of my chair, I had a lot of trouble just sitting up. It was so hard, I really wondered why I had done such a terrible thing to myself, until that glorious day when I got out of the Therapy center. I learned while I was in the hospital that the college, in fact everyone, had thought it was a horrible accident, and had settled out of court for a very large sum, mostly because they didn't want me to sue them for a much larger sum. I'm sure their lawyers were picturing this 22 year old girl in a wheelchair with no legs pleading her case. No, they settled, so the day I left the Center it was to go to my new fully-equipped condo. I was still feeling kind of down, still wondering how I had come to such a state, still wanting to know why, when I opened the door to my new home. I was almost scared to death by the shout of 'SURPRISE!' that filled the room, and as I entered, there was my family, friends from years past, cousins I hadn't seen in a decade, (since the tree house incident, some of them) all rushing to welcome me and comfort me. And then, when I thought it couldn't get any better, I heard from behind the crowd someone yell over the clamor "Hey, I like your place Cathy, easy for a girl like me to get around!"
I looked around to see Dina sitting there in her wheelchair, smiling at me.
"Yes indeed, Cathy, I could live here"
"OK then, why don't you?" was all I could reply through the tears of joy.
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