I realised something today. It has been 3 years now since I had to take the plunge and start using a mobility aid to get around. It wasn't an easy choice I had to make and it was one that took a lot of soul searching, doctors pestering and other things to make me do. They tried to have me in a chair back when I was at the YMCA but it was due to my own stubborn nature (and the fact that I didn't want to appear weak to some people) that made me refuse and I kept on my own two feet (often with support from another person/crutches) for as long as I could. I think I finally accepted it when I was with Becky in town and I remember she was nipping up to one of the shops and I had been exhausted by the time we reached "the palm trees" area. I had to sit for 10 minutes while nebbing in the middle of town and then struggle on to Tesco (where Becky told me to get a scooter or go home). She made sure I was safe obviously and when we got to Tesco she helped me get around the store and get the shopping done.
It was after that trip and a long talk to the doctor that we decided that it was probably the best way forward for me now. My back was constantly aching with my leg going numb (resulting in falls). My knees ground and crunched as I walked and I generally was not in the best state of health. I started only going out when I could and that was becoming fewer and further between. I felt so isolated and like I was trapped within the boundaries of my home. I think it made me feel more and more depressed as I was soon at the stage where even getting from one room to the next would be difficult. I have had my old "Scoots" for 3 years and it still works, as long as you're mindful of one of the cables and when I haven't got my chair, its a good substitute. Even if whenever I used to use it, I would get some people coming out with some of the worst judgmental tripe you could imagine.
Back when I was using the scooter, I suppose you could say that my disabilities were mostly invisible, unless of course you knew me and knew what I was hiding behind my smile. This was before I started with home oxygen and I probably looked like a normal 20 something but I used the scooter to get around. While a lot of people were polite and never batted an eyelid, there were some people out there who would come out with some of the most horrible things. One particular occasion happened when I was on a bus (because the small scooters ARE allowed on buses as long as you can turn a full circle with them) with Becky. We had just finished our morning errands and were headed home to unwind and this old lady got on the bus. She snorted rudely before sitting a few seats behind us (I was in the wheelchair bay, Becky was in the seat opposite) "I'm 84 and I don't need one of those...". Becky didn't stand for it and rather politely (especially when you consider the situation) told the woman to mind her own business and stop being so nasty. Just because she didn't need one at 84, didn't mean that I didn't at 25.
There is a stigma about people and mobility scooters (particularly us youngsters). I think its because there are people who think that if you are younger than a certain age then you shouldn't need to use one. My mobility scooter changed my life as it allowed me to leave the house again with confidence that I wasn't going to struggle to breathe the entire time and my back wouldn't give way and become painful. It was motorised which meant that I could even start venturing out on my own again. Yes there were people who said nasty things (and people who gawked at me) but that didn't bother me. Heck it still doesn't bother me when I go out in my chair. People will say things and they will be cruel about it but to be honest, you do have to thicken your skin a little and remember that you don't have to justify yourself to anyone. I use my wheelchair outside of the house. Not because I am lazy. Not because I want sympathy. I use my wheelchair outside because it, and my oxygen cylinders, has made my life as independent as it can be. Which is something very important to me.
I was scanning some news recently and people were contesting that the new "hoverboard" (the latest fad) is not allowed for use on public footpaths and some people said that the same should be said for mobility scooters. One person was saying how most of the people who use them are just fat and lazy. Personally, I think that things like mobility scooters should be subject to the same conditions of use as wheelchairs. I think that the person wanting a scooter should have to be assessed by an Occupational Therapist and assessed that they are mentally and physically competent to drive the scooter around, because there are a lot of older people who whiz around on the scooters and run in to everyone. In my case, I don't have that kind of issue, I just have people walk in to me because they were too busy playing on their phone (bit of a pet peeve) and not looking where they were going!
To the people who rely on their mobility aid, it is a lifeline and it is a vital way of getting out of the house when otherwise you wouldn't have been able to. I am proud to say that I am a wheelchair user.
3 years ago