My Experience with MS and Mobility Aids

  • It’s important to remember that two-thirds of people who have MS remain able to walk, though many will need an aid. With that in mind, here is my story:

     

    I kept asking myself, “Are you sure you’ve really accepted your MS?” My answer always was, “Well, of course I have. After all, I have told everyone that I know about my Multiple Sclerosis. And if that’s not enough, I led an MS support group. So, of course I’ve accepted it.”

     

    I realize now I was just acknowledging my disease, not accepting it. True acceptance would have meant understanding my need for a cane instead of scanning the terrain ahead of me trying to find a conveniently-located coffee table, counter or handrail to steady myself. Or walking by leaning on walls.

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    Really, I thought that was far less embarrassing than using a cane. Fortunately, I had a wonderful physical therapist, Heather, who noticed my walking difficulty.

     

    “Ever thought about a cane?” she asked. “It might make you feel more comfortable when you are beyond the security of your house.”

     

    “I manage okay,” I responded.

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    Heather wanted me to just think about it. Which I did and couldn’t stop doing.

     

    Thoughts like, “Does this mean my MS is winning?” or “I will look so silly; everybody will wonder why I need a cane” to my absolute scariest thought, “How long until I need a wheelchair?”

     

    But after awhile and a few not-so-gracious falls, I thought, “Use the cane or break a bone!”

     

    And so began my history with mobility aids. From a plain Jane wooden cane to a small-base and then large-base quad cane, followed by a walker, I used them all as my MS-caused walking difficulties rapidly progressed. All the while - which was a span of about five years - I was working hard with Heather.

     

    I will never forget the moment I realized walking was no longer safe. My walker and I laid face down in my parents’ house with my dog licking my tears for nearly 25 minutes before I crawled toward a supportive coffee table and managed to get up. I knew then that I was lucky not to be seriously hurt.

     

    Walking was never going to be what it once was.

     

    In May of 2005, I began using an Amigo scooter, and I even asked my neurologist for a wheelchair prescription. This damn disease ensured that, but every day I spend in this chair I tell myself not to lose hope, because I will walk again. And I have to believe that.

Published On: November 22, 2011