We often say that we are people with disabilities, not disabled people. That is, we are people first. I agree with that view, and have said so before.
The overall point is that we are all individuals, we are not our diseases. But some run the risk of taking that too far as they refuse to use aids that would make their lives easier.
Take mobility problems as an example. It is not unknown for some people to show reluctance to even using a walking stick or cane.
That same reluctance seems to exhibit itself at every stage that mobility deteriorates. Each new piece of equipment designed to overcome a difficulty in walking. They include the use of two canes, a walker, a rollator, a wheelchair and, ultimately, a powered wheelchair or a scooter.
I make no secret of the fact that I have mobility issues, caused by multiple sclerosis. At home, I manage to move around using furniture and walls for support. But, even doing that, I can still fall. Outdoors, I can´t walk a step without support of one type or another. Even with support, I can walk about 15 yards before looking for a place to sit down.
That was the reason I decided to buy a rollator, a form of walker on wheels with brakes like a bicycle and parking brakes too. Add to that a built-in seat and, when I need one, I have my own chair.
Mobility aids are tools to help
I looked at using a rollator as a positive step. Instead, it allows me to walk more safely and take a break whenever needed without any risk of falling.
To travel any greater distances, I use a wheelchair but this is a tool not a way of life.
For me, a wheelchair is not a last resort, not something to dread. Instead, I look at it as a valuable tool that gets me to go places I couldn’t otherwise reach. So, instead of being disabled, I consider myself wheelchair-enabled.
What’s more, when using my electric wheelchair (I have an older, manual one as well) I am also independent as I can go places by myself.
To anyone who has a mobility difficulty, my message is simple. Don’t be afraid to try the next aid. You might be surprised by how much it helps you.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.