One of the most popular search terms that brings people to my blog is “fibromyalgia wheelchair”, which takes them to this blog post I wrote about fibromyalgia and wheelchair use in 2014. At the time I wrote that post I had hired a mobility aid on a couple of different occasions.
The first was hiring a manual wheelchair to visit the Enchanted Forest and the second was hiring a mobility scooter during my visit to Disneyland. In the post, I talked about my limitations and getting my head around accepting additional help when I needed it.
I seemed to understand the need to hire a mobility aid when I was going above and beyond what I would normally do in a day. Case in point, the two examples above. However, it has only been in recent months that I have come to accept the need to use a mobility aid—specifically a mobility scooter—to assist me in my day-to-day life with fibromyalgia and ME/CFS.
This came after a long time of questioning, “should I use a wheelchair or mobility scooter for fibromyalgia and ME/CFS?”
If you have ever found yourself asking the same question, please read on to learn about my personal experience and how a mobility scooter has helped me to manage my health conditions. I hope you find this post useful and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below.
Purchasing a mobility scooter to help manage my fibromyalgia and ME/CFS
In February of this year, I purchased a mobility scooter. It’s something I actually debated for a long time. I spent a lot of time asking myself, “do I actually need a wheelchair or scooter?” In the end, I decided the answer was “yes” and I opted for a scooter.
It’s a decision I definitely haven’t regretted. As much as my health has improved, I still suffer from fatigue and poor stamina; to a level that it interferes with my ability to do many things.
It is a frustrating position to be in; feeling like I am capable of doing more but physically being unable to. I hoped that purchasing a mobility scooter would enable me to do more while still living within my limitations.
The first day I went out in my mobility scooter I immediately knew I had made the right decision. In fact, I wished I had made the purchase sooner. So what held me back?
My worries and concerns prior to purchasing my mobility scooter
There were a few reasons why I was reluctant to invest in a mobility aid and why it wasn’t really on my radar until a few months ago. These are all very personal reasons and I want to share them with you in case you find yourself feeling the same way I did:
- No-one ever suggested it to me. Had a doctor or other professional suggested the idea to me I probably would have researched mobility aids sooner. The fact no-one said anything to me made me feel like I must not need one.
- I can walk short distances, therefore was the use of a mobility aid justified?
- Plus, I wouldn’t need to use it all of the time and there would be days where I wouldn’t need to use it at all.
- I worried that if I started using a wheelchair or mobility scooter that I would become more reliant on it over time and my fitness would suffer as a result.
What I have learned since purchasing my mobility scooter
What I have come to learn is that we know ourselves best. It didn’t matter that no-one had suggested using a mobility scooter/wheelchair to me because I am best placed to judge my own situation.
Just because I can walk short distances or manage things one day, doesn’t mean I can do it reliably or repeatedly. Should I miss out on doing things just because I am less capable some days? Definitely not.
One of my biggest frustrations, before I got my scooter, was not being able to walk my dog. At times I felt useless because it seemed like such a simple thing and I failed to be able to do it. I was sick of being stuck in all of the time. Now that I have my mobility scooter, I can take my dog out most days.
How having a mobility scooter and wheelchair has helped me
Since purchasing my mobility scooter, I have also made use of a manual wheelchair, which I have borrowed from my friend’s mum. It has allowed me to do some amazing things, namely visiting Copenhagen and London without completely doing myself in. These are things I would most likely have had to say no to before.
I think that in itself shows just how much of a positive difference using mobility aids has made to my life; they help me to live my life to the fullest without causing an exacerbation of pain, fatigue or other symptoms.
That said, having a wheelchair or mobility scooter doesn’t mean I have to use it all of the time. I’m still allowed to walk and do what I am able to. I see a wheelchair/scooter as simply being a tool that I use to enable me to do more and get around more easily without causing myself any harm.
It doesn’t mean I am confined to it all of the time, though admittedly people do give you strange looks when you get out and walk! I’m quite oblivious to that sort of thing though as I don’t really care what others think.
As well as being able to do more, one of the biggest benefits of having my scooter is that it helps me to pace myself more effectively whilst doing so. I mentioned above that I was worried I would become overly reliant on a mobility aid and my fitness would suffer as a result.
I needn’t have worried as the opposite has actually been true; I am successfully using my mobility scooter to help me build up my stamina and fitness. If I am feeling well enough, I will hop out of it (and my mum jumps in) and walk for a short distance.
It’s great because I don’t have to worry about how far I am walking or if I am leaving myself enough energy to make the return journey.
Since my scooter has come into my life, I’ve also stopped pushing myself out with my energy envelope. As most of you will understand, in the past there were times when I would push myself to do something I really wanted to do, despite knowing full-well that there would be consequences as a result.
Now that I have a mobility scooter and wheelchair, I no longer have to knacker myself or cause a flare-up when I want to do something that would otherwise be out with my energy envelope.
As a result of all of the above my health has been more stable over the past few months. I honestly feel like my scooter plays a key role in helping me to successfully manage my fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. I love my little scooter and quite honestly I wouldn’t be without it.
I do hold onto the hope that one day I might not need it (or that I will need to use it less often). But until then, my scooter is allowing me to live the life I want without the risk of making my symptoms worse.
My advice to you if you are debating whether to purchase a mobility aid
My advice if you find yourself questioning whether you need to use a mobility aid is to consider the following: what is it that you wish you were able to do and would a mobility aid allow you to safely do it. If the answer to the latter question is “yes”, I absolutely believe the investment is worth it.
We only live once and I personally believe we should make the absolute most of every day. If a mobility aid helps you to do that, then that’s a positive in my book.
What are your thoughts? Do you use a mobility aid? Does it help you? Or are you wondering if you should invest in one? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.
Update April 2018: This post was written in 2016. You might be interested to know that I have progressed enough in my recovery that I no longer require my scooter. Read more here.
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