The first time it was suggested that I use a wheel chair to get around, I burst into tears. I am very sick, but I don't look sick, so some silly little proud part of me didn't want to admit it in public and there is nothing quite so obvious as a wheelchair. It was also incredibly confronting to admit that yes I needed one and actually wouldn't be able to see or do as much if I didn't get one. At the time it turned out that the tourist attraction we were going to visit didn't have wheel chairs anyway, they did have walk-a-bout seats. The kind that are a walking stick and fold out to a tripod style seat. So I had a reprieve and filed the wheel chair worry at the back of my mind out of harms way.
Then last week Mum said, why don't we go shopping and hire one of the centre's free chairs? B'B'Ba Baaaaa (serious scary music). Bang all my chair issues came racing back at me, but trying hard to be practical, I swallowed my doubts and put my best foot forward...er wheel.
It did help that the chair was electric so I wasn't dependant on Mum's driving and it was really comfortable and supportive so I was relaxed sitting on it. We walked and whizzed around, I managed to get some much needed new shoes and jeans and didn't have to worry about counting steps or looking for benches to rest on or stressing about finding the shortest route around. Everyone was super nice, which is helpful especially when you don't get out much. I found that having a visible aid to my illness meant that I felt more comfortable in myself, I wasn't pretending to be okay and toughing it out at the service desk, I was in the chair.
We did have some funny moments, like when I ran into a shoe stand in Myers and shoes flew everywhere, oops the turning circle on the chair was not the best. Later on Mum suggested I turn around in the lift...which I tried to do at full speed and wedged myself a bit in the corner. I recommend reversing out of lifts, it's not worth trying to turn around.
At the end of the day I realised I had had a fun time, managed to go shopping and have lunch with no bad effects afterwards. (okay so fingers still crossed on the me/cfs payback). Being in the chair gave me a taste of the freedom of movement I had forgotten about and looking disabled isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone's so nice....maybe this is what being a celebrity feels like.
So if you are worried at all by 'the chair dilemma' I thoroughly recommend giving one a road test, who knows you might wheelie wheelie enjoy it.
Sorry I can never resist a a little PUNishment.