Friday, February 09, 2007

Dr. House - a Wheeler?

An interesting plot on the TV program -- Garry and I watched House last week and I keep thinking about it. Dr. House, although disabled himself, lost his handicap-reserved parking place to a wheeler. To get it back he bet he could spend the week in a wheelchair.

He actually did a very good job of staying in the wheelchair, even when he could not reach to put up his folders, even when he was impatient with a slow elevator. However, we saw him only at the hospital. Did he continue the experiment when he was home? Or did he stay in the chair only when someone was likely to see him? The week was almost over when he finally did stand, and it was a heroic effort to save his patient's life.

This episode sparked a wave of online discussions and critics. House pointed out the ease, comfort and safety of using a wheelchair as opposed to his difficulty of getting around with the use of a cane. Assignment of the parking space, he thought, depended on determining who was more disabled. Most of the comments concerned the question "which is harder - a cane or a chair?" My question would have been "don't they both qualify for a prime parking spot?" I know, I know, then the entire story line would not work.

And the story brought out clever paradigms. After all, isn't it easier for a wheeler to get around than it is for just about anyone else? If not, maybe it should be. House commented on the perspective difference between a sitter and an upright. Even though House faces problems with his own disability, not only mobility but also pain, he encountered a completely different set of challenges with life in a chair.

Some points may have been missed by an upright audience. Others were clever. For example, he struggled to get in his car, scoot over on the seat, and then discovered he could not reach to close the car door.

House is a popular show and it highlighted some problems, both simple and not so simple, with daily life in a chair. It was a good venue for an important point.

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