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A Young Mother's Guide to Walkers

I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis for a while. It was kind of dormant when I was pregnant and when my babies were little, but since my 2-year-old was about 6 months old, my health has been pretty steadily in decline. Now, I’m on a lot of different medications, and my doctor is trying as hard as the insurance company will let her to try to get stuff under control, but long story short, things are not under control. I’d been thinking that I needed some kind of assistive device, as my hips have been flaking out on me. You expect them to work, then boom — you’re on the ground. I thought about it, almost constantly, for quite a while. But many aides require heavy use of your hands, and my hands are one of the most affected parts of my body.

Close-up of woman's left hand wearing a wedding ring
My hand on a pretty normal day. It doesn’t open all the way hardly ever.

After a lot of thought and discussion, I decided to get a four-wheeled walker with the seat and pouch and such. I could use the palm of my hand to lean and not have to use my fingers to grip as much, whereas a cane would be nearly impossible and probably cause more hand pain than it was worth. But when I decided I needed one, I had no idea how to go about it. I don’t know anyone very well who has a walker. I was talking to my husband, Ben, and said, “So… Do I just, like, Amazon one? Do they have walkers with Prime shipping?” I didn’t know if that was what I was supposed to do, so we held tight. A couple days later, we were at my in-laws’ house and my husband mentioned our quandary. My mother-in-law looked at us at said, “Well, do you want to pay for it?” We were totally lost, so she explained that I could go to the doctor, who could give me an order, and that insurance usually pays for it. At my next doctor’s appointment, she gave me an order and told me to take it to a medical supply store. “If there’s something you want and my order isn’t sufficient, they can call me and we can revise it,” she said. Got it.

My husband and I went to the medical supply store, gave the saleswoman the order and she asked who it was for. I let her know it was for me, and she said, “No, hon, who’s going to use the walker?” Again, me… Then she hopped up, made me sit down and talked me through the simple process, which was giving her my insurance card and choosing blue or red and small or large wheels. There was also an option of a similar walker that converted to a wheelchair, for an additional expense not usually covered by insurance, whereas most insurance companies cover the standard walker in full. It was tempting, but I thought the walker itself was enough.

I’ve taken it out several times now, and I have to say, it’s pretty fantastic. I have my own seat all the time, which is surprisingly comfy foam, and a place to stick my purse. However, it’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around being 29 and using a walker. The fact that it’s shiny and electric blue does help, but I decided it still needed some pizzazz, so I added awesome holographic streamers and a bell. Pretty fab.

Woman with her walker on the grass in front of a building

It walks, rattles and rolls, and it’s awesome. OK, it doesn’t rattle, which is good, because that would be super annoying.

When my doctor gave me the order, she told me to use it, but not give up hope that the time will come when I don’t need it. I’m trying really hard. In the mean time, I’ll enjoy my streamers.

Follow this journey on Positively Rheumatoid.