Tuesday 17 November 2020

adventures with mobility aids (and a fragile ego)

Just before Lockdown 2 came in, we decided to go to a park near where my parents live (and where I grew up). I knew that they had Tramper off-road electric scooters to hire so I called them up. After my previous experiences at National Trust properties, I didn't hold out much hope.

So, imagine my delight when the lady I spoke to told me that, yes, the trampers were available to hire that day. She also expressed dismay when I told her about our previous experiences - "Surely this is a time when everybody should be encouraged to go out?"

I could've hired the scooter on a 'Pay as You Go' basis. But by the time we got there, we'd already decided that I was going to sign up for the annual membership. Especially when we realised that it applied to six different sites across Derbyshire.

After a quick play around with the controls we were off. And no more than 2 minutes along the path I had to manoeuvre through a kissing gate. With a bit of encouragement, I ended up reversing into it and was on my way. It was super-easy to use.

Over the course of 4 hours I covered more ground on that park than I had probably done in over 20 years. And the ground was prett muddy and uneven. 

It was a great day for us all and any concerns I'd had about using an electric scooter were irrelevant.

Long-time visitors to this blog will know that I've struggled ENDLESSLY with the idea of adopting mobility aids - as I've transitioned from one walking stick, to two, to a manual wheelchair. But the idea of electric scooters seemed to loom largest in my mind.

So what changed?

Well, recently on walks with the family, I've felt like a (literal) burden, as family members run themselves into the ground pushing my chair.

This is in no way with regards to how they feel (I hope!). But I keep telling myself that I want to walk as far as I can. And then I find I can't walk very far. So I end up needing someone to push me in my chair, which inevitably reduces our days out. Or - more likely - I'll probably stay home and miss out.

But there's only so much of that I (or those closest to me) can take. And while I might think I'm being thoughtful to Mrs D by not going out with her and Little Ms D, it's really just a bit sad. Plus it's also pretty selfish. Why should Mrs D have sole responsibility for taking our daughter out?

Even so, an electric scooter always seemed like some tragic final stage in my "journey" (ugh). We've talked about it in the abstract and it always seemed too big in my mind.

How it actually felt, though, was totally the opposite. I felt (strangely) less visible on an electric scooter than I have done when I've been pushed around on my regular wheelchair. 

Was this just my own paranoia that people were looking at me as a helpless person to be pitied?

And, in my head, did driving an electric scooter make me more independent?

PLEASE NOTE: this is purely my experience. There is no judgement implied on anyone else's choices.

But I know that it's something I've struggled with - as I said, it seemed to be a much bigger deal in my head than it was in reality.

It was interesting that, when I was driving the scooter, we passed a young woman who was being pushed in a wheelchair. I didn't hear her, but apparently as I was passing she said "I wish I had one of those".