I'm a Part-Time Stroller

6:00:00 PM

It's taken a lot for me to admit this, but I'm now a part-time stroller. Sadly, that shouldn't be the case. I really wish that society didn't have such a stigma towards invisible illnesses or illnesses as a whole.

Realistically, I need a mobility device. If I'm being honest, I should probably have more than one. I don't use my wheelchair as often as I probably should and I struggle to walk when I don't. I've known that I've needed a mobility device for a while now, but I've been too afraid to get one.

In the end, I didn't have much of an option after my right heart catheterization. The doctor inserted the catheter into my groin and I knew I wouldn't be able to put pressure on my legs during recovery. Upon leaving the hospital, my husband and I went straight to my primary doctor and requested a prescription for a wheelchair. We then googled the closest medical supply store and made our way over there.

Getting the actual wheelchair was the easy part. We walked right into the storefront and were met with an employee almost immediately. I explained the situation and she gestured for me to take a seat. We handed her the script and she sent another employee to the back of the store. She asked my husband a couple of insurance questions and explained the financial aspects. We agreed that we would pay the remaining $8 a month that the insurance didn't cover and we signed the rest of the paperwork. Next thing I knew, there was a brand new wheelchair in front of me. The entire process took less than 20 minutes and then we were on our way to dinner.

I was really nervous going on our first outing with the wheelchair. However, my husband promised me Outback after the procedure and I wasn't going to turn that down. Finding parking was pretty easy and the restaurant made accommodations for us. I was pleasantly surprised with how well things had been going. I even came to the realization that the wheelchair was more comfortable than any of the booths at the restaurant. Not that I attempted to sit in each of them, but we eat there a lot.

After our meal, we made our way to Target. I know I probably should have gone home to rest, but I wanted to get the shopping out of the way while I had the chance. I was a little nervous to attempt maneuvering through Target in a wheelchair, since it's usually busy. However, there weren't too many people that night. I switched back and forth between letting my husband push me and trying to roll myself around. Ultimately, I was comfortable with either. I was afraid that I would get tired easily and out of breath, but that wasn't the case. In fact, I felt much more energized after using the wheelchair instead of how I normally feel after straining my body trying to walk on my own.

My first trip with my wheelchair went better than I had ever expected. I had heard so many horror stories of how other people in my situation have been treated, so I wasn't really sure what I should expect. Unfortunately, the rest of my wheelchair trips have not been the same.

The second time that I went out in my wheelchair it was very hard to get around. Anytime that we went somewhere new, the people walking in front of us would let the door close before we could make it through. I also dealt with people's rude facial expressions. I understand that I am only 21 years old and that I look perfectly healthy, but that doesn't mean that I am.

My chronic illnesses are called invisible illnesses for a reason. There are going to be times that I can walk without any problems and there are going to be times that I need to use a mobility device. Whatever the case may be, I should not be judged or harassed because others don't quite understand what I'm going through. Part of being a part-time stroller means that I only need my wheelchair for part of the time. So, if you see me stand up from my chair to look at something, that doesn't mean I'm faking my illness.

There have been many times that I have not used the electric scooters in grocery stores, even though I know that I desperately should have. I'm just too scared of how others will react. I know that I shouldn't be, but how can I not? Some of my other spoonie friends have gotten in trouble because people think they're just playing around, when they actually really need that scooter. I have the same fears when it comes to getting a handicap plaque for my car. I don't only have trouble walking, but I also have lung restriction and heart problems. So, walking long distances is incredibly difficult for me. I know how much I would benefit from handicap parking, but I also know how much other people in my situation have to deal with due to using those parking spaces. I still don't quite understand how other people can be so cruel; but I actually know people that have used a handicap parking space and then walked into an establishment, only to come out and find a hurtful letter on their car. I can honestly say that if that happened to me, I would probably just sit in my car and cry. I would not know how to move forward from that.

I never thought that I would have this many chronic illnesses, but I also never thought that I would struggle with them as much as I do. Part of the reason that I started this blog was to bring awareness to those of us with invisible illnesses. I think that it's important that we educate society in a way that promotes understanding and community building. Mobility devices are used to help others feel more independent and in control of a life that they don't have much control over. We shouldn't be pushing anyone down for using the resources that help them feel better. In fact, we should be supporting them and encouraging them for moving forward each and every day.

Please share this post to help end the stigma and educate society on invisible illnesses!

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  1. I'm sorry that you won't use the scooters in the store when you should. You are so young to have so many health problems. I'm 60 but have had problems since the day I was hit by a pickup truck on June 2, 1979, while riding my brand new bicycle that I had gotten off layaway the day before. The doctor that treated me after the accident kept telling me that the pain in my back was all in my head. My dad was going to him, too, for back pain and he told my dad the same thing, that it was all in his head. Well, my dad finally decided to go to the VA hospital and they Rx him with rheumatoid arthritis. Over the years, I've had other invisible illnesses pop up and have to take multiple meds but I'm lucky that I've found a good doctor who looks out for his patients, it's not about how much money he's making. I no longer see a rheumatologist for my Fibromyalgia as the one who's at the same medical facility told me he only sees his Fibromyalgia patients once a year. The previous rheumatologist i had I would see every 3 months. Do my GP is where I get most of my meds from and he makes sure that what he's prescribing won't have bad interactions with the other meds.
    I do use a cane to help me walk and have been using it since 1986, when I was 30 years old. Just realized, I'm now 60 so I've been using a cane fit half of my life.
    Hope you have more good days than bad days. Sending you gentle hugs and good thoughts to keep fighting the fight. Thank you for your blogs as I've read several of them tonight and commented on a few of them.

    1. For the most part, I am lucky enough that my husband is able to do most of the shopping. If I do go, I just ask that I'm able to push the cart for support and that we walk slowly. Occasionally the wheelchair helps, but it can also be straining on my arms.

      It's awesome that you were able to find a good doctor that not only listens to you and believes you, but also does what they can to help you. I've gone through a lot of doctors already and I know I will only go through more as we move, so it's important to find a good one. Right now I've got a great rheumatologist that has listened to everything that I've had to say, I'm going to miss her when we leave.

      I appreciate the kind words, gentle hugs, and good thoughts and I'm sending them to you as well! The support that I've received from the spoonie community has been tremendous and I'm so glad that I've found it. I'm also glad that you found my blogs helpful/relatable. It makes me very happy knowing someone out there has been able to connect with them.

      I'm not sure if you've seen, but use can use this link to find all of my chronic illness related post and I update this page every Saturday :)