I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about all the things I use to do most things other people take for granted. Anything from taking a shower, to getting into bed.  I had to stop and really think about all the ways that I use mobility aids/equipment/devices, whatever you want to call them.  They have become part of my daily life now, well most of them. I used to have issues with using these things, including a cane, walker, wheelchair, grab bars, shower chair, grabber and leg lifter.  Issues or not, despite only being 41, not 91…I need them!  I just had to accept that fact.  I still hold out hope that one day they will be collecting dust in the attic.  But for now, they are just as necessary as food, shelter and water.

Can Adapt or Cave

First and probably most important, I use a wheelchair for outings when I know I will be on my feet for some time, either walking or standing.  I keep my wheelchair in the garage for easy access to load it in the car or truck when we are ready to leave.  I have learned from the past that pushing myself to, walk through a car show for instance, will result in paying for it the next several days!  At first, I felt like using it was giving up on myself.   It took me some time to actually start using it once we got it because of this and I didn’t want to need the wheelchair.  There are those pesky issues I was talking about!  Like my friend brought up in our discussion, her concerned like mine was, that I would become reliant on my wheelchair.  That it would make my muscles weaker if I used it too much.  So the choices are: Use the wheelchair and actually enjoy what I am doing or don’t use it and not only suffer through all that walking, but also pay for it the next several days.  Or simply not go at all.  Pretty easy choice to me! I recently used my wheelchair to go to the store with my boyfriend and our sons.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk the entire store.  It was a particularly ouchy day for me but I really wanted to get out of the house.  I get a few looks from time to time when we’re out but I think mostly it’s my own issues that make me think others are staring at me.  And who really cares if they are wondering why I am in a wheelchair at 41 years old.  Let them look and wonder!

Wheelchair

Next is my walker and cane.  The walker is primarily used in our house on days when walking is difficult.  I don’t like to use the wheelchair in the house because our house is not wheelchair friendly.  The walker stays beside the bed because I never know if I will need it or not when I wake up.  So that’s the easiest place to keep it and everyone knows where it is incase I need it pretty quickly.  I have been known to get a sharp pain when walking or simply standing chopping veggies and need it to go sit down.  So it helps to keep it in one place all the time so no one is searching the house for where I last used it.  Generally, I use the walker when my coordination is off, having dizzy spells or need more support than my cane can give me that day.  I use my cane when going out on days I am strong enough to walk short distances.  Examples of this are quick trips to the pharmacy or going out to eat.  I also use it around the house occasionally when I don’t feel the need for the walker but want a little extra support.

Walker & Cane

In the bathroom we have grab bars in our shower.  They are suction cup grab bars, so just checking to make sure they are secure before getting in the shower is all that is needed.  I also should get a tub mat or those stick on rubber grips so I don’t slip in the shower when I can stand through a shower.  On days when I am weak and know standing in the shower is out of the question, I use a shower chair.  Unfortunately, the shower chair is a transfer chair and is quite bulky.  It has become a permanent fixture in our bedroom, right beside the bathroom, because of how often I need to use it.  One day we might even install a fold down shower chair!  Oh the things I look forward to!

Shower Grab Bar                                         Shower Chair

One of my least favorite aids is a long blue strap that is rigid except for a loop on one end.  It’s called a leg lifter and as you might guess, it allows me to lift my legs into bed when I am having a really bad day.  I can grab it, put my foot in the loop at the bottom and pull my leg on to the bed.  The top loop is just more of less a handle.  This stays beside the bed as well.  I don’t like using this because well most of the time it hurts my foot when I’m pulling my leg on the bed.  I will admit that a lot of times I simply pull on the leg of my pajama pants to pull my leg in bed if necessary.  I mostly had to use this strap after I had my hip replaced last October.

Leg Lifter

Another little used aid is a “grabber” which allows me to grab things that are on the floor or too high for me to reach.  I haven’t used this nearly as often as I should and end up getting on a stool to reach for things I need.  Getting on a stool is not really a good idea for me since I get bouts of dizziness and have fallen quite a few times.  Luckily, I haven’t fallen off the stool (knock on wood).

Grabber

The next subject isn’t really a mobility or assistive aid per say but really something I need help with.  I take a lot of medication throughout the day and have tried numerous ways to keep track of what I have taken and what I still need to take.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal but with Fibro Fog and side effects of said meds…it isn’t hard to lose track!  I have tried medication reminders on my phone, simply writing them down, a huge pill-box for morning, afternoon and evening meds for an entire week.  Maybe I should go with just a day at a time.  My problem with the big weekly box was I never refilled it on the same day and never knew really what “week” I was on.  Maybe a daily one would make it easier to keep track of if I just refilled it every morning.  I don’t know how the elderly do it!!

Pill Box

Last but not least, I am considering the necessity of selling my beautiful Mustang convertible to get something a little easier to get in and out of.  We have a big 4 door F-150 and the Mustang, not terribly easy to get in and out of either one.  I have my eye on a cute little Honda Passport though!  There goes the “Ford Family” in our house!

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3 thoughts on “Keep Calm…It’s Only A Wheelchair!

  1. Great description of the emotional journey getting used to relying on mobility aids. I have needed a zimmerframe/wheelchair since my early twenties and remember my horror when physios first suggested I swap crutches for the frame. I refused to use it at all until I had absolutely no choice in the matter but everyday life would have been far easier if I could have got over my embarasment and accepted it right away. When I got my first wheelchair I assumed that everyone must be staring at me and hated having to leave the house because of it – now it is so much a part of normal life that I rarely notice even when people ARE staring.

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  2. If you are going to trade in your Mustang, I would suggest looking at the revamped Ford Escape. I got one for my birthday last year, in a beautiful metallic red color, and I still love it. It is easy to get in and out of, and it has the liftgate that can be operated with the remote or with your foot.

    I like your description of the aids. While I am also in constant pain with fibromyalgia, the only aid I’ve used is a cane for those times when my feet are numb and or needling. Over this summer, I am lucky that I’ve had my sons, ages 9 and 14, around to help me. I also swim 3 or more times a week, which helps with my stiffness. Most mornings, it takes a lot of willpower to just get my suit on, but once I’m in the water, it is all good.
    Julie

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  3. Tina,
    Excellent job of describing the help you need and why. Also explaining and showing different aids to help other people. I think I might need to use the suction cup grab bars in my shower. Would have been excellent when I had my foot surgery. I kept grabbing the door and then hubby would yell because he knew they wouldn’t support me if I needed them.
    Judy

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