From a Walker to a Wheelchair–Journeying from Grief to Acceptance

Thank you to Katie Fetterolf of TechOWL (the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Program) for bravely sharing her poetry with AT3 Center News and Tips.

Silhouette of hands making a heart against a sunrise.
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Katie Fetterolf, Program Coordinator of the TechOwl Lending Library, recently made the transition from using a walker to a power wheelchair. She has since written two poems that make clear her decision was not easy. It did not matter that she was already an assistive technology (AT) user or that she works for a State AT Program.

AT professionals often love talking about “technology solutions” and “feature matching” technology to the person. These poems are an important reminder that AT is a very personal decision. It may be an issue of internalized ableism. It may be about letting go of a device you’ve come to love as a part of yourself. It may be a combination of many factors. Each of us is different, but it turns out–regardless of our profession–we’re all, also, human.

To My Walker

Running free
Flying high
Everything to me
Everything to me
You and I

Building me up so I would never hide
Power, Strength
Always living inside

Sweat down my face
Not a care in the world
I had you behind me
My favorite girl

But now I am lost
I am not me
Without you, I don’t know
Who I am going to be

No choices to be made
Change is here
So, suck it up
And show no fear

Will miss you dearly
But I have to get better
Forever in my heart
Always walking together.

The Chair

Open your heart
And I can be your friend
I promise to stay loyal
Until the very end

Here to help you
Pick you up
Show you you’re still good enough

Take you where you need to be
Fast and furious
Strong and free

Just step on the gas
And let’s take flight
Don’t walk away
You’ll be alright

The clouds will fade
The sun will rise
Your strength will lift you
To the sky

Hold on tight
I am the change
Your arms wide open
But still wanting the same

Afraid to let go
Don’t want to sit down
Still searching for that love
That used to be around

Life happens
And this is it
So, take a breath
And kindly sit

Here to put your pain to rest
Open your eyes
You’re still the best

I am not the Power
It’s You
Don’t you see
Still fast and furious
Always strong and free.

A woman seated in a power wheelchair smiling.

Katie Fetterolf dedicates these poems to her colleagues at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University (home of TechOWL) and Magee Rehabilitation Outpatient Therapy at the Riverfront. “They bring out the strength in me I never knew I had.”