Fast forward, to 2021. The year that I had hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear (but that revealed hidden bone spurs right where they couldn’t have been caught on camera). After years of being told that scar tissue from my endometriosis was what was warping my SI, I was astonished to find that repairing my hip actually changed my entire approach to pain. While I had no idea it would happen, I came out of the surgery with a different baseline for pain, and also found out that (for now) Celebrex is my wonder drug. I had tried enough similar NSAIDs, that I was shocked at how much the Celebrex helped. I tried to go off the Celebrex a few times, thinking I simply wasn’t in much pain anymore, but going off of it illustrated after just a couple days that my pain is relieved by the Celebrex, not gone.
One of the other giant decisions I made in 2021 as we got vaccinated and decided to rejoin society, was the decision to purchase a wheelchair. After consulting with my doctor and realizing insurance wasn’t going to cover it if I didn’t need it inside my house (and I don’t – there’s enough seating that I’m never forced to stand at home, and would need at least 100k of renovations not covered by insurance to make it reasonable to use a chair at home), I bought a Fold and Go Wheelchair out of pocket.
I would prefer to be able to get exercise when using the chair, and have a nice manual chair, but with all the hypermobility caused issues I have with my hand (I had one therapist consider my hands 100% disabled), I decided an electric chair would be more useful overall. The Fold and Go wheelchair was affordably priced for an electric chair, and one that would work with my small car. Many of the nicer ones cost more, are harder to transport and are heavier – both of which would make it something I could not use all the time.
My first big outing with the wheelchair was a trip to Legoland Florida. There’s no way I would have been able (2 months after hip surgery, not just counting the POTS) to handle a place like Legoland. I can’t even handle the grocery store seriously without a wheelchair (although if I can tell one is available, I use the scooter carts the stores provide instead of my wheelchair). We had an amazing time at Legoland.
The first time I used the wheelchair at my church, I realized how much of a game changer it also was just for the social parts of life. For years, I would “need to sit” and walk away from conversations if people were standing. If people were having good conversations, they weren’t necessarily near me. The wheelchair changed this and allowed me to suddenly be able to be anywhere and talking to anyone, and that changed my social world.
In September, we took a family trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown in Virginia. I never would have been able to do this without my chair, and it made everything possible. While my husband had his moments of frustration helping me when I was over ambitious about terrain I could navigate (and my first serious bad decision that led me to actually fall out of the chair – totally my fault), I was able to experience one of the best vacations I’ve ever been on, and feel 100% present. Instead of focusing on all the bad things about how I felt, I was able to enjoy all the parts of the trip.
For Christmas 2021, we gave our son a day of minigolf in Pigeon Forge. If I hadn’t had the wheelchair, I probably wouldn’t have made it through one hole without needing to seek out space for a rest. Instead, we visited Crave Golf (one of the places that actually advertised being wheelchair friendly). It allowed me to play two full games of minigolf, while using the chair. Since I am capable of standing, I did stand up at each hole to putt, sitting after, but I saw others who couldn’t stand, golfing from their chairs. I was impressed at how accessible the entire layout was. However, I parked in a handicapped spot in the lot because it was close to a ramp although far from the building – just to find that I had to go through the parking lot instead of the sidewalk anyway, because there was a pole in the middle of the sidewalk that didn’t allow a wheelchair to go by on either side.
I’m entirely grateful that my wheelchair has given me so much life back – instead of saying “no, I can’t do” something, I can say “yes! I just need to bring my chair”.
I still don’t take my chair in most situations where I know I’ll have easy seating, and I can park close to an entrance (such as, restaurants), but now I have something to fall back on in order to do everything that required more walking or standing.