Bumping down backwards

Namine has started to go down curbs and single steps backwards on her own! 👩‍🦽

From the start, Namine took to her wheelchair. I still remember her very first one — manually assembled from hand-me-down parts, because we couldn’t yet get something professionally built. My aunt had to put a foam guard on the front because Namine kept crashing into everything.

Way back in 2010, even before she was decannulated

But with practice came control, and Namine quickly became adept and learned that she loved her newfound speed. There is a ramp at our Children’s Hospital that she still loves to fly down. That freedom is not something a child in a wheelchair is always privy to.

I have, in the past, mistakenly referred to Namine’s situation as being “confined to her wheelchair,” or “wheelchair-bound.” Her wheelchair doesn’t bind her; it allows her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. It’s not confinement — it’s freedom.

One of the many things Namine wouldn’t be able to do is bowling. She’s in a youth bowling league this year. I just think that’s so awesome!

When she’s at her league practice, there’s a ramp for her that allows her to get up on the platform where she bowls. If you’re familiar with league rules, though, you know that the teams don’t stay on one lane — they switch sides every other frame. And for a while, Namine would either wait until it was clear to go back down the ramp or she would enlist my help in bumping down the step.

Then one week at practice, Namine decided that she would try it herself. She asked me to spot her, to be ready to catch her in case she couldn’t control her wheelchair. She did need a little guidance in making sure she was approaching the step straight. As for actually going down the step, however, she didn’t need any help at all.