I don’t know anyone that uses mobility aids that is my age - I used to push my step gran to the cinema but that’s it. My experience with wheelchairs, walking sticks, crutches and rollators has been with passing acquaintances, no one that has deeply impacted my life.
My hands started shaking last October and by March I couldn’t stand by myself. It was too quick for me to process really so I just kept getting on with it.
Taking the dog out for a walk I started by using hiking poles for balance and hoped no one would see me. After getting blisters and shoulder ache, I borrowed that same step gran’s canes. She has loads but none of them were the same so they were different heights and drastically different patterns.
So after too long I bought my own sticks and cried. I didn’t want to have to use walking sticks, I didn’t want to look different, I didn’t want to be able and I didn’t want to be in pain. But then I came to the point where the sticks weren’t enough and I cried some more. I eventually gave in and bought a wheelchair.
It was the best decision of my life. I cried when I got in it and moved around because I was free. My knees weren’t in as much pain, I could keep up with everyone else, I could leave the house. I COULD.
And it made me realise that I loved my wheelchair straight away. But before I had it, I was terrified. I started the #iAm♿️ campaign to help not other people deal with how they felt about their mobility aids, but more selfishly for myself.
But it has grown into more than that. I get people I’ve never met messaging me, thanking me, for sharing stories about people with disabilities - helping them realise that there isn’t anything to be afraid of.
Getting a mobility aid isn’t giving up. It is taking control. The #iAm♿️ campaign has been fundamental to how I view myself as a wheelchair user, but it has also opened my heart to so many more stories and amazing people - that it’s changed who I am as a person.
I hadn’t ever come across a place to share what a mobility makes us feel in a positive light because we are taught that disability is a bad word. It is not. #iAm♿️ disabled and #iAm♿️ proud.