Taking The Plunge
I knew that I would have to take the plunge and try disability scooters. But something happened to me when I had to sit on that scooter for the first time and then steel myself to actually start it. Strangers were looking, my family cautiously watching. Something changed inside me in those moments. Time seemed to slow and I felt like I could see myself in slow motion, clambering clumsily on and turning the key with slightly shaking hands. I experienced a full-on turmoil of emotions, including shame, embarrassment, anger — and the relief of not feeling the shattering joint pain.
In my head and heart, I felt as if I could see the ordinary healthy person I used to be morph into an ordinary girl with an extraordinary, debilitating, life-changing disease. Or, at least that’s how it felt for me. It probably didn’t look that way to others as I joked with the owner about whether I also could rent a small dog for the front basket.
Perhaps it’s all part of the grieving process that someone with a chronic disease and the resulting lifestyle changes must go through. The realization that the able-bodied healthy person they were is truly gone. Sometimes, as it did for me, a specific experience or event might trigger that. Once “seen,” it’s impossible to “unsee.” Of course, my body makes it very clear (just in case I get into further delusional thinking) that I’m certainly different now.
In the few seconds, I made myself get on the disability scooters and drive away, that’s when I “got” my diagnosis. It almost felt like I was driving away from me, the old me anyway. Distressingly, when I returned the scooter later that day the old me wasn’t there waiting. I still haven’t found her. I realize now she took off some time ago, but I had been pretending she was still there. Damn! Hate it when that happens.
Realizing your own self-delusion is a shrinking experience. It is a process I think all chronically unwell people end up going through. Important as it is, it is still painful. In the end, it leads to self-acceptance and motivation to reassess one’s life and adapt.
It can be done. It must be done.
I wish for you all plenty of bravery and courage as you go through both the process and the resulting call to adapt to your new life.