Learning to Embrace My ‘Hot Wheels’
As I glance over at the lonesome wheelchair skulking in the shadows of my living room, I recall its arrival like it was yesterday, though it’s been more than four years.
My husband, and then carer, had paraded it through the house as if it were a savior, there to rescue me from the abyss of paralysis. I resented the sudden intrusion of this cold, clinical aid into my warm, cozy living room. It not only reminded me of my recent multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis, but represented something unwelcome in my world: the loss of independence.
Within a matter of weeks, my MS had paralyzed me from the waist down. I had barely begun to process the enormity of being diagnosed with a lifelong condition at 26 years old, let alone the very real possibility that I might never walk again.
I went through the same myriad emotions three years later when I was advised to look into obtaining a mobility scooter. In fact, I dug my heels in even more than I did with the wheelchair. It seemed more final, like I was accepting defeat and admitting I’d never get better.
I ruminated about several issues, such as, “What happens if I accidentally knock someone over?” I was also very nervous about the stigma. Although I’ve been training myself not to worry about what people think, it is human nature to have those worries.
I also worried that the mobility scooter would begin to define me. Instead of “Beth the scientist” or “Beth the unwavering friend, wife, daughter, and sister,” I would simply be “Beth, that woman in a wheelchair.” I believed people would be unable to see past my aids.
It is now clear to me, however, that my hesitancy had less to do with the aids themselves, and everything to do with acceptance of my diagnosis. My entire outlook changed when this seed of realization began to blossom in my mind.
My questions transitioned from “Why do I need a scooter when my husband can push me in my wheelchair?” to “How could it improve not only my but our quality of life?”
I realized that it wasn’t fair of me to expect him to do all the heavy lifting, so to speak. If we’re at the zoo or an amusement park, we should both be able to enjoy the day, and not have to cut it short because we’re tired from alternating between me self-propelling and him pushing me.
I am very grateful that he pushed me for as long as he did — both literally, in my wheelchair, and figuratively, when he encouraged me to look into getting a mobility scooter. The rest, as they say, is history. I’m happy to report that my scooter, “Hot Wheels,” is finally here!
Yesterday, we went on our first outing with the scooter. It is more difficult to transport than my wheelchair, but the freedom it provides more than makes up for the inconvenience of its bulk. I no longer have to endure my husband’s sigh of boredom as he pushes me around a women’s clothing shop. Now, I can pop in alone while he amuses himself looking at Xbox games in a nearby store. The time it’s saved us is also paramount. I’m pretty sure we managed to complete double the amount of errands than we would have with the wheelchair alone.
I found that, for the most part, my initial worries were unfounded. I still recognize the look of curiosity flickering across the faces of strangers in the crowd, wondering why I require a mobility scooter at all. That hasn’t changed, and I doubt it ever will — just like the few rude comments I receive from passersby who seem to think I’m a fake. But I take comfort in the noise of my wheels drowning out their dulcet tones as I zoom into the distance.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.