I didn’t start using a wheelchair until I was about 30. A the time I was still walking and the chair I was getting had a vertical seat lift that could lift me up so I could stand up more easily and still walk at home. Around the house I was walking fine. It was a comfortable environment. But when I was outside my house it was very difficult to get around with things like uneven terrain and steps. I had a manual chair that I would take with me outside the house but I always needed someone to help me and push me because if there was any sort of incline, I couldn’t push myself in the manual chair.
So I arranged to buy a demo power wheelchair at a discount with the help of vocational rehab and MDA and it was delivered to my house. Inside the house it was great — easy to move around and fun, like a video game. But I was scared to go outside. There was traffic and other people and dogs and dog poop. It seemed scary.
To get over this, I called one of my friends on the phone and I said, “Please ride along with me!” and I went outside my door. I rolled down the sidewalk to the street corner where the stop light was. My friend kept telling me there was nothing to worry about, and that helped. Finally I said goodbye to my friend and crossed the street.
Then I crossed the next street and the next and the next. Pretty soon I was at the grocery store and doing shopping. I was in and out in 15 minutes. I rolled back with 2 bags of groceries. I was there and back within an hour. I didn’t need anybody’s help and I didn’t worry once about falling or getting tired. It was great.
I can’t believe I was ever scared.