I also have a small electric wheelchair for using around the house. It’s blue, turns on a pin and is not too large, it's comfortable and portable. Occasionally I meet people who talk about being in a wheelchair as if it is one of the worst tragedies that can befall a person. I must admit that before CRPS I probably would have been one of these people but when your life suddenly changes and you need a wheelchair you have the choice of embracing the chair for what it is, i.e. increased mobility and independence, or viewing it as a disaster.
My pain management specialist shares my view that a wheelchair is not a tragedy and that for some of his patients it is a means of getting around more and maximizing their quality of life. It does not mean I have stopped walking all together, I still work hard at incorporating short timed walks into my day, and pain levels permitting I can now walk into the bathroom and kitchen, I am able to get up from my kitchen stool and walk to the fridge or fetch something from a cupboard, all these things I now do without using crutches and I inwardly celebrate each one of these small achievements. However I know that if I push myself too far severe pain will eventually result, it is so difficult to know when to stop but in order to live my life to the fullest I have to keep taking calculated chances otherwise I would grind to a halt.
The arrival of my wheelchair in December 2014 was an exciting day for me, I had chosen my chair carefully and John encouraged the purchase despite it leaving us with an almost empty bank account for a while. I was eligible for a government grant to purchase a chair but I was told it could take months or years and I could not wait, I needed the chair straight away, and I also decided that by purchasing a chair myself I would have a wider choice. My new chair means I am able to do many things around the house that I could not do before or could only do with great difficulty such as answering the door in a hurry or taking piles of washing from one room to the other.
I have read about people who have overcome a variety of medical conditions and not ‘ended up in a wheelchair’, sometimes defying medical prognosis, however this involves a degree of providence, determination and perseverance is often not enough. Hobbling around on crutches for the last 8 years has taken its toll on my shoulders which are not in good shape, in 2014 I was suddenly unable to use my crutches due to a torn shoulder tendon, my new chair was a necessity not an option and it arrived just in time.
I once saw a film set in Berlin during WW2, a man had lost both legs and was using the wheel base of an old pram to propel himself around the streets. I have also read about amputees in Afghanistan selling their prosthetic legs in order to buy food for their families. I count my blessings; I love my wheelchair and feel fortunate to live in a country where it is possible to have one. It’s all about perspective and attitude.
So think carefully when you hear someone say “I’m not going to end up in wheelchair, I’m not going to let that happen”.