Updated: Nov 3
Living with a disability can be a challenging and life-altering experience. For almost three decades, I've navigated the world of mobility aids, a journey that began when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 32. Did you know that in 2017, 2.7 million Canadians, or 1 in 10 individuals aged 15 and over, had a mobility disability? I was taken aback by this statistic. This is the story of how I faced the fear of stigma and the prospect of losing my identity and independence, only to eventually embrace the devices that now enable me to lead a fulfilling life.
The Early Struggles My journey began during a period of personal transition. As a divorced mother of three, I returned to university. It was then that I first noticed my legs feeling heavy and tingling, causing me to fall unexpectedly. The unpredictability of these falls haunted me. One day Stephen and I were crossing the street when I fell down right in the middle of the road. It was the first time I noticed that turning my head quickly (in this case to check for traffic) caused me to lose balance. I was shocked and humiliated. Every day, I grappled with the fear of losing my ability to raise my children, maintain independence and a secure happy future. My quality of life was rapidly declining.
Discovering Mobility Aids: My path to regaining independence began with the simple use of a cane. At first, I was self-conscious, but with time, I not only made peace with it but also had fun with it, thanks to the various styles and colors available. As my condition progressed and driving became challenging, I learned to use hand controls—an initially daunting prospect that I eventually mastered.
As I needed more stability, I adopted a wheelie walker. Though I was hesitant at first, it soon became clear that these aids were far more valuable than the negative perceptions I had initially held. They enabled me to continue doing things on my own terms. Today I drive myself wherever I want, take the walker from the car and off I go.
Empowering Through Knowledge I came to understand the power of knowledge. Through exploring various options such as trekking poles for better posture and energy conservation, I greatly improved my quality of life. Diet and exercise also played a significant role in slowing the progression of my condition. I learned that it is essential to listen to your body and conduct thorough research, not relying on a single source, not even your doctor.
Breaking the Stigma and taking control Early on, I felt shame and helplessness when using mobility devices, often subjected to unfair judgment from others. However, by openly discussing my experiences, I contributed to breaking the stigma around disability. One memorable day at Costco turned into a learning experience for both me and those around me. I even shared this experience in a blog post linked here
Today, I'm grateful for the mobility aids that empower me to do many things, from traveling to spending time with my grandkids. I take pride in setting an example for others facing similar challenges.
If you find yourself struggling with mobility issues, I encourage you to pay attention to your body and consult various medical professionals. Knowledge is indeed power, and by becoming well-informed about all your options, you can determine the best course of action for yourself.
Accepting the Wheelchair My greatest fear has become a reality, as I now need a wheelchair on many occasions. However, research led me to an affordable, lightweight power chair that I can pick up, giving me the independence to go wherever I please. Surprisingly, I'm looking forward to having this option.
Embracing change and processing emotions is how we grow in confidence and build resilience. It's an essential part of the life coaching process as well. While we can't always control what happens to us, we can choose our response. I choose to embrace my life despite the challenges, as there's still so much more in store.
Join the Conversation: I'd love to hear about your experiences and tips in the comments section. If you'd like to chat, feel free to email me to book a complimentary discovery call.
My journey with mobility aids has been transformative. I've transitioned from avoiding them out of fear and shame to embracing them because they've empowered me to lead a fulfilling life. Through the knowledge I gained from others and the process of overcoming self-doubt and fear, I've found the strength to live life on my terms. My wish is for you to do the same.