When I was a child I imagined having to use a wheelchair to be the worst tragedy to happen to a person. I still think this must be true for people who are suddenly forced to use one. People who have accidents or sudden illnesses that change their lives forever in an instant. I read about a young rugby player, for example, who was paralysed following a nasty tackle and found it impossible to imagine a life without the use of his legs. He killed himself in a Swedish clinic aged 23.
Whilst I have deepest sympathy for people who feel like this and recognise we are all different in how we cope with life changing events I am happy to say I don’t feel the same.
I use a mobility scooter and couldn’t manage without it but it was a gradual realisation and acceptance of my condition which made me start using it. When I think back to how much I struggled to get around before facing up to my need for wheels I shudder! Each step was an effort and I honestly don’t know how I managed. I was exhausted all the time and would be terrified of not being able to walk far enough or get back to where I’d staggered from without falling over!
I was in denial about how much I needed a chair or scooter and it was only engaging with other MSers on social media and locally that made me realise just how many people used one.
It’s such a big step for us to take (no pun intended) and many people feel it’s like giving up or giving in to the disease. There is also the loss of identity associated with such a drastic change, one of my friends on twitter stated, “sometimes I can’t escape feeling like someone else in it” There is no doubt that the world views us differently once we decide to start using a scooter or chair and I’ve heard horrendous stories of people not being spoken to directly or spoken about as if they’re not there. People assume we’re stupid just because we’re sitting down!
Personally I find I look much better on my scooter if I wear it with a huge smile! People don’t tend to feel sorry for me if I’m happy and I think it puts people at ease so they’re not fazed by it. I much prefer using a scooter to a wheelchair though as I found people looked at me with pity in their eyes whenever I’ve used a chair. They tend to be more amused by me whizzing about on my scooter but I have no answers as to why this might be!
Also, I detest the phrase, “confined to a wheel chair”
I am not “confined” by my scooter I am freed by it. Without it I’d be house bound and wouldn’t be able to work or go shopping or go for walks with my children. Once I got my head round that and accepted the need for it I breathed a huge sigh of relief and got on with it!
It is what it is but I’d love to hear from other MSers about their first experiences using a chair or scooter.