Having Independence as a Disabled Person
In 2021, I started identifying as disabled. My chronic fatigue took over my life in late 2020, and a few months later, in early 2021, I decided to start using a rollator walker.
The decision wasn’t easy
There’s definitely a stigma for young people using mobility aids. I absolutely don’t agree with it, but I think we all have some form of internalized ableism inside of us, and I am no exception.
An initial thought of someone getting a mobility aid is they lose their independence. I’ll talk about this more later on in this article because it absolutely isn’t true.
I also was worried about what others would think of me. When I went out in public, would people stare? Would they approach me and ask what happened? I had a lot of worries surrounding my big decision.
It took me a while to get used to it
I finally bit the bullet and ordered a basic rollator walker from Amazon. It was decent. It was black, and I knew almost right away that I wanted to customize it to make it my own. I went out and bought pink spray paint, pearls, and glitter. I knew if I DIY’d it, it would make me more comfortable to use.
At first, I only used my rollator inside the house. I would take it from my room to the bathroom and back when I needed it, and that was about it. I slowly started to take it outside but realized the walker I purchased wasn’t really fit for the outdoors.
I decided to look on Kijiji and found one that was more suitable for what I needed, so I bought that and spray painted it pink as well!
Finding my independence
Like I mentioned earlier, people often think that using a mobility aid is losing your independence. It’s actually the complete opposite. If I didn’t have my rollator walker, I wouldn’t be able to leave my house as often as I do, or do some of the things I like to do.
For instance, going to the mall wouldn’t really be an option for me. Going for walks around the block wouldn’t be, either. I’m able to do so much more because I got a walker.
I also wouldn’t usually leave the house on my own without a walker, just in case something happened to me. My fatigue would always get worse and I would need to sit down somewhere, which oftentimes ended up being the floor of whatever store I was in.
Now, I can just park my walker somewhere and sit there until I feel well enough to keep going. It’s so handy!
My solo trips
I still don’t take a lot of solo trips, but when I’m having a particularly good day, I do. I take my walker, hop on the bus and I’m on my way to the mall or to an appointment.
Sometimes I'll get approached, or a look up and down, but you honestly get used to it. I find that people ask questions and make comments like “you’re so young!” or “why do you need that?”, but I usually give them short answers and they leave me alone. As for the looks, you learn to just ignore them.
My walker has changed my life
My walker has made life so much easier for me. My chronic fatigue is still pretty bad, but I know if I didn’t have my walker on these trips, it would be a lot worse.
Do you live with any other conditions in addition to AS? (choose all that apply)