Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

My String Bikini 2

This post is about two weeks old – I guess I forgot to post it.

One would assume that if you were to wear a string bikini to the beach, you would be fine with people staring. What if you didn’t have a choice but to wear one? No matter the size or shape of your body? People are still going to look so you would just have to hold your head high, walk down the beach, lay on your towel or get in the water.

Well thank goodness this was not the case yesterday at the beach, but it was the best analogy I could come up with. This is my string bikini:

Obviously it’s a beach wheelchair. I have it on permanent loan from a friend I met while I was in Vancouver this past spring. He was looking for a place to store some of his accessibility equipment (mostly related to beach access) and we just happen to have a large shed (what are sheds for, other then “stuff”)! This was my first try using this chair and it turned out to be an experiment that attracted a lot of unwanted attention.

Even as Theo was bringing the chair towards us from the trailer I thought it looked like a giant child’s stroller. Or a toy – bright blue and yellow. I was able to transfer from my chair to this one without trouble, but it’s not self-propelled so I had to rely on my peeps to get me across the beach to where it was level enough to get into the water. Moving anything on sand is just plain difficult.

Not sure if I would float in a level, comfortable position we stayed close to shore. The chair kept me at exactly the right level in the water – only my hands and arms could actually “feel” it – the water came up just to my chest. Oliver got the football out and we were able to toss it back and forth a few times until I leaned just a little to far…and over I went.

With all the rain we have had this week it was not surprizing that e. coli levels were high in the water that day. We had decided that it was a “head above water” swimming day. I tried so hard not to go under, but I was fine nonetheless. Sure got the adrenaline of the lifeguard going! When I came back above water she was already in the water, coming toward me. I raised my hands and yelled “I’m okay! I can swim!” She stopped running, but kept a close eye on me for longer than I liked.

Of course people were watching even before all the shenanigans in the water took place. They are thinking “never seen one of those before!” “why does she need that?” “what happened to her”

Lesson learned:

  • three wheels aren’t just tippy on land
  • water’s not cold if you can’t feel it
  • don’t wear a string bikini if you don’t want attention



  • Sue says:

    Better story than the last one, this one made me laugh, so glad you made it into the water and had some fun with the football. Anyone that has. “String bikini” is a hero to me

  • Ene says:

    Would that everyone were as brave as you, Julie — whether with a “string bikini” or with soldiering forward (as we all know you will) in the coming days with 2nd degree burns. The world would be a better place if we had more people like you, Julie. You are an extraordinary role model. ….even when it is just plain hard. Thinking of you in the days and weeks ahead.

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