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Why Choosing to Use a Wheelchair Was One of the Best Things I've Done

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I know you might be thinking, “Did I read that correctly? Who would want to use a wheelchair?”

Before you judge me, please read on.

When I was 23 I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). I had just been promoted at work, and the diagnosis of moderate ME tore my life apart at the seams. I soon had to give up the job I loved, and the rest of my busy, social life with it.

I spent the next six years (for the majority of the time) bedbound and housebound to varying degrees. In December of 2016 I contracted a virus and in January of 2017 I had the biggest crash I’d ever had — which made me deteriorate into the severe category of my illness. Before this I would be able to go out two to four times a month. Most of these were medical appointments, as I cannot walk far.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis has so many symptoms that can affect mobility. Crushing bone and joint pain, fatigue and balance issues to name a few. Most of the time these symptoms kept me indoors, but there were days when I might feel well enough to go out, but I was restricted where to go because of my limited mobility. So mainly this would be for meals, or to feed the ducks down the road — all because we can park close by and there is not a lot of walking involved.

The days of walking around a shopping center were well and truly over. No longer could I go on shopping sprees as most girls in their 20s did. This may sound strange to some, but I actually miss food shopping.

I had never been keen on the idea of a wheelchair. I had read comments from people who had been told that it would “disable them further.” This put me off.

But one day, it clicked, and I bought a secondhand wheelchair.

Why? Because I realized that far from being a “disabler,” it’s actually an enabler.

On days I feel well enough to leave the house, I am no longer restricted to restaurants. I can go to places where everyone goes — shopping centers, the beach, places to see. Of course it is very rare I feel well enough to go out — but now when I do, I no longer have that restriction. If I can handle the noise, light and general hustle and bustle, I can go to a supermarket if I want! I can go to a shopping center!

People stare, of course they do. I am only 30 and when I am out, I wear makeup, so probably “look” healthy. But they don’t know the price I paid to be out that day, and how much that wheelchair adds to the quality of my life.

Getting a wheelchair was one of the best things I’ve ever done!

Getty photo by nautiluz56

Originally published: March 3, 2018
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