I cannot tell you how many times when I went to Walmart or Walgreens I would walk towards where they kept the canes to see about getting one only to walk right past the aisle or make a mad dash (shuffling dash) to the doors. It was the same way when I began wearing braces not just because I injured a joint but to keep from injuring them, I was a hairstylist for 10 years, I was suppose to be an image of health and fashion, I felt like a complete goof wearing ankle, knee, and wrist braces! I wanted to puke every time I have had to add on some adaptive or assistive device to my lifestyle but the wheel chair is the worst thus far and for many I talk to it is for them too.
This post is for those trying to overcome fear of using a wheelchair, cane, walker etc because you know you need one but you just can’t pull your courage together enough to do it. I thought if I can still stand up and walk there is no way I need a wheel chair! I’m just going to deal with it, I will just go grocery shopping and 10 minutes be draped over the cart trying not to throw up because of the pain. Then I will get home, unload everything, and fall on the bed and let the grocery’s sit there for several hours, yeah even the meat!
For over a year I have talked to my husband about maybe using a chair when I need it, and during that year I never used one even though I really needed to and ended up isolating myself from activities because I refused to use one. I felt if I use a wheelchair I am giving up. I am letting my illness beat me. This can not be further from the truth!
There are people who have no option to use a wheelchair like parapalegia and even though it is hard to come to grips with any serious and life altering illness the decision for a chair for them is a no brainer. With Ehlers-Danlos, POTS, Chiari, CCI, Fibromylgia it is much trickier to make this decision but the key in deciding if you need one is would it benefit you?
Decrease your pain? Help an injury heal? Give you a social life again? Make it mentally and physically more enjoyable and comfortable to run errands or do chores?
Someone said maybe it was another blog I read but the one ice breaker question in deciding you need a wheelchair is are you avoiding things? Are you avoiding social outings, errand running, chores? Yes? Then a wheelchair is an option for you and will be a beneficial to your life.
By now I knew it would be beneficial, especially for my husbands sanity as he had to hear the sobs of despair at my inability to get over my fear of using one. So one day as we walked into our local Walmart I whispered to my husband,”Okay, I’m going to get one,” and I genuinely felt determined to do so. Yet as I approached the chairs my heart started pounding and sweat poured from my brow and I scuttled quickly past them putting in my mind, I need dog treats for Buddha, like now!
I knew I had left my poor husband and kids in my dust and I could of pictured my husband standing there looking back and fourth at me and the scooters but I kept on walking not looking behind me and then I saw something coming up beside me quickly. I turned and it was my husband on a scooter,”Need a ride sexy?” He said. I took a deep breathe, smiled and sighed,”Yes, I do.”
My biggest dilemma, the crux of my anxiety was pride and fear (fear also ties into pride….you’ll see). Here are lies we tell ourselves:
- What if so and so sees me after they saw me working in the garden, they’ll think I’m faking
- I am young or look healthy they’ll think I am faking it
- People will think I am lazy (or if overweight they will think I am because I am lazy and use a wheelchair)
- My friends and family will think I am just over exaggerating or wanting sympathy
- I am giving up on life by using a wheelchair
- My doctor didn’t order me to use one I don’t need one
- Everyone (even doctors) say if I use a wheelchair my muscles will atrophy
The last two can be a bit prickly since opinions and medical experts have a lot to say about it but circle back with me to the beginning; are you avoiding activities? Using a chair as needed will not destroy your health or what health you have left! I have found I have become more active by using a chair. Because I used a wheelchair to go shopping I can come home and still be able to do things instead of lay in bed the rest of the day because I can’t walk. Or I can go out with my family and not be in bed for the next week because I cannot move.
The most important point too I want to make with those specifically with EDS is if you do have issues walking with joint dislocations (as I seriously do) using a chair for any excessive walking will help prevent damage and injury. Also, if you have recently injured yourself in my experience keeping weight off of the injured joint helps healing. Most of us hurt ourselves so often we will roll an ankle put a brace on and keep tromping on it. Where a healthy person who twists there ankle, goes to doctor, gets it wrapped and uses a crutch to keep the weight off of so it can heal. I know it happens so often it gets so sickening to have to baby every joint injury but believe me in the long run it pays off. Our only treatment is prevention!
The last point is deciding to use a chair does in no way mean your putting yourself in one for the rest of your life! It is simply an assistive device that helps injuries heal, prevents injuries, decreases pain, and keeps our activity levels as close to normal as possible.
I hope this post has helped you in some way, you are worth taking care of. Do what is right for you not what others think is right for you!