Accessibility is Not For When You Can't
Accessibility has been a hot topic lately. People have been speaking out about inaccessible buildings, damaged wheelchairs, illegally parked cars in blue spaces, and other serious topics of interest.
But, what I have also heard a lot lately are people with chronic conditions like AxSpA saying they aren’t “bad enough” to need the use of a cane, walker, or wheelchair.
To this I ask: Why Not?
Why do patients feel that using a mobility device is only for when you can’t walk anymore?
Let’s break it down.
I have been hearing this term so much lately. People with a condition believing that they don’t belong to the disabled community.mThey see full time or mostly part time wheelchair users and think “I don’t have it as bad as them, even though I hurt, if I use a mobility device, everyone will think I am faking.”
And, yes, that is a very hard feeling to break.
The other day I was in church and everyone stood to sing. I never stand up. My “spoons” are too valuable to pointlessly stress my body. But, then I look around the room and I see people much older, and even one in a wheelchair, stand up.. Am I just being dramatic? They probably have it worse than I do.. Should I just stand up?
The answer is...Not if I don’t want to!
Sure, they might have it worse, but they made the choice to stand up. I have the same choice and I choose to save my energy.
My condition is valid! I’m in pain all the time, every single day of my life. I have a good reason to remain seated.
So, if you are reading this and you're thinking you don’t have it as bad as someone else, and therefore you consider yourself not worthy of mobility devices, or accomodations.
You are worthy and you are part of this community.
Now that we have assured you that you are not an imposter in the world of disability, let’s get to the heart of the subject.
When is it time to get a mobility device?
The answer...Whenever you want to.
Let’s be honest, mobility devices don’t really make life that much easier. At least, they aren’t easier than walking (if you can without trouble). Buildings are not well designed for wheelchairs and walkers. Pull doors, curbs, high thresholds, things in the way, etc.
There is no good reason to get a mobility device unless you feel you have trouble with mobility. And, I mean, the moment you feel you need help. Don’t wait until you can barely stand, that is too late.
I just received my first rollator walker. I got the blue one, the red one was out of stock. Walking around my school can be tough, especially if I need to sub in multiple classrooms. Walking from one side of the building to another and up and down stairs all day is a killer! The last time I had a schedule like that, I couldn’t walk the next day. If I had had a rollator at that time, I would have been able to take some pressure off my legs, sit down when I needed to, and used the elevator without anyone questioning it.
There are days I can walk 5 miles. There are days I can walk 10 miles. But, there are plenty of days I can barely get out of bed. Especially if rain is coming.
I can walk, I still have mobility, but for the days walking is a struggle, I have a device to help me.
I didn’t wait until I couldn’t anymore. I planned ahead for the days when I can’t.
Accessibility is not for when you can’t
Wheelchairs, Rollators, Shower Chairs, Parking Placards...These are all things that help people like us save some “spoons.”
They are not for when we have permanently hit the wall and can’t move anymore. They are for when moving takes more energy than it should, and you would like to save that energy for when you need it.
If you feel you need some help, talk to your doctor, ask them about getting a mobility device.
You deserve to be comfortable.
Do you live with any other conditions in addition to AS? (choose all that apply)