My Reluctant Journey Toward Using Mobility Devices
When I was younger, I assumed that I wouldn’t require a mobility device until much later in my life. I wasn’t prepared for needing to use a cane or a walker in my 50s. My 2010 multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis rearranged my life in many ways. And having to use mobility devices is now a part of the deal.
I had experienced issues with balance and walking for years before my diagnosis. I started bumping into things and I gradually progressed to falling. But even when I was falling over frequently, I fought against the notion of needing assistance. My reluctance was likely due to my vanity or the stigma I had attached to mobility devices.
Eventually my sister and my late husband talked me into using a motorized grocery cart at the store. They knew it would support me when walking. I appreciated the ease of gliding around the store until the battery died. But I also remember feeling sadder and older and I wished that I had my sturdy legs back.
Following the move to the motorized cart, I was inspired to use a cane around my house. I thought, misguidedly, that a thinner cane would be better. What I chose was not a cane at all but a one-legged camera stand. It did not help. On the contrary, it upset my balance and increased my risk of falling.
Ironically, in my efforts not to appear different, I had chosen something that looked ridiculous and was unsafe. I left the camera stand behind and moved on to a real cane. It was little and prettily decorated with flowers. I used it for a few months, but I couldn’t get my balance right and was still prone to falling.
Finally, I gave in and purchased a purple rollator walker. The difference in stability was amazing. I fall about once a year now, which is a huge improvement. The reason I fall has changed: I take a tumble when my legs give out. Recently, I have upgraded to a Nitro walker which is lightweight and modern-looking.
I also use a manual wheelchair for longer excursions and shopping. I feel proactive using my arms to navigate myself, though it can be tiring. Thankfully I always have someone with me, so they can push me if needed.
My mind has adapted to my new modes of transportation, and my self-confidence has gradually increased. I had to move past my denial of needing assistance. Thanks to my mobility devices, I can still go out and enjoy life and keep some of my independence. I’ve accepted that I need help and have learned to be grateful for anyone or anything that offers me support.
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Are you hesitant to use a mobility device? Please join the discussion on this topic in the MS forums.
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