When a car tire isn’t working properly, it needs at least a spare to move without causing undue damage to other parts of the car. And so it is for our legs and bodies. The aids for mobility today are endless. Using these helpers isn’t a sign of weakness or giving up, it’s practicing common sense because it preserves your best energy for what is most important in your life and allows you to do a great deal more with the energy you have. Equipment extends your endurance.
As an example, the thought of going to a mall was daunting for me for years– there’s just no way I had the stamina for the walking it would require. But if I had used a scooter to cover the mall itself, parking it at the entrances of stores, I would have been able to save my leg strength for walking inside the stores. Looking back, there are a lot of things I didn’t have to give up.
Going from walking under our own power on our legs to using a walker, scooter or wheelchair is a huge transition. The physical advantages sound obvious, but the emotional obstacles can be overwhelming. I’ve heard stories of people who enjoy the attention of being dependent on wheels, but I do not personally know anyone who has been eager to trade their independence and pride for metal and wheels. It was a hurdle for me to use a walker. I waited much longer than I should have. I was a “wall-walker” (holding on to walls or furniture) for quite a while before I discovered the advantages of using a rollator. When I finally used one, I realized how much more I could do with its help. After the adjustment of seeing myself with it and coming to terms with other people seeing me with it, I slowly warmed to having it as a companion.
To ease the transition, I suggest you:
– first use it at home
– then use it in places where nobody knows you
– then use it in town around acquaintances
– know ahead of time how you will respond when people ask “what happened?” or “why are you using that?”
Be prepared for people to say stupid and insensitive things – expecting it makes it easier to hear. My favorites: “That’s what *I* need”, “wish I had one of those”, “you’re lucky you get to ride”. While I’d often like to respond by offering to trade my machine for their legs or congratulate them for winning the stupidest comment of the day, the best response is a simple smile.
Next up: Before you Buy How to Choose a Mobility Device