It's probably not a surprise that I'm an exercise junkie by just looking at some of the posts on my blog. Even some of the non-exercise related posts either have something to do with my PhD (kinesiology...the study of movement) or talk about how my lifestyle relates to my movement-based hobbies. I've been a bit frustrated with what my body is letting me do lately (upper body strength training), what it will grudgingly do (swimming laps), and what it will not allow (walking for any real distance, Crossfit, mixed martial arts, belly dance).
After wheeling the 5k, I know that I want to get back into endurance sports as it looks like the adaptive versions will be doable. The problem is really the cost. Adaptive sports equipment is really expensive, for example, this racing wheelchair from Top End (the company that made my rigid chair) retails for easily over $3,000 USD. How can most disabled wannabe athletes supposed to afford this? There are grants from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (a great organization that helps out a lot of folks be able to be active & have fun), but I'm worried that the position required in a racing chair will cause spine issues...and that's a huge financial risk for something that might or might not work for me.
There's also the issue with fit. I'm not a paraplegic, so my legs are rounder than they would be if I didn't have use of them. This limits the style of racing chair I can use, and it may mean that I'm too round for the racing frames that exist. Another concern is that if my body shape changes due to training and racing, I may no longer fit properly in this very expensive piece of equipment, and ill-fitting sports equipment (whether it's a bicycle, running shoes, hockey pads, ski boots, or a wheelchair) can cause either biomechanical issues or increase risk of injury. What happens if this very expensive piece of equipment no longer works for me?
I'm also a little worried about applying for a grant through CAF or a similar organization. I think part of my emotional mind clings to the hope that somehow my deteriorating spine will somehow fix itself. Or that maybe I'm not disabled enough. Or that maybe the organization will judge me based on my body size and consider me a poor candidate for funding. I'm not saying that any of these thoughts are rational, but they're still valid. Fatphobia exists...and fatphobia can live insidiously with ableism when fat folks use adaptive equipment. We're seen as lazy, we're seen as causing our disability by being fat (and even if we did, people should keep their mind on their own underpants, thank you very much).
So, I'm thinking about ways I can raise money to fund this racing chair, or maybe a way to see if I can get professionally fitted and see what my options are. We'll see what the future holds on this front...