After years of needlessly suffering, I finally bought a rollator, which is a walker with a seat and wheels. I named it Noola, after the feisty character in Life in the ‘Cosm. Fellow author Jamieson Wolf said he was glad I named it that because, as he stated, “Noola would roll!”
Noola and I have been rolling, too. Because of the neuropathy I experience daily from fibromyalgia, I find it difficult to walk or stand for long. I’d been using a cane for years because nobody told me there were other options. HINT TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: If you want your fibro patients to move regularly but they consistently cannot, please suggest accessibility devices!
Glad I got that off my chest. Ahem. Anyway, I’ve taken to the rollator like a fish to water. We had the worst weather, which was basically all seasons in one day, and I still went out for my walkies. It’s so much easier for me to get around and last week there were three days in a row where I clocked 3K each day. That’s enormous for me! Having a seat with me all the time helped. If I felt tired, I’d sit down, text my bff, drink an apple juice, and then continue on.
Even my first test-drive at a mall was super fun. I kept saying to my husband unit, “Let’s go here! Let’s go there!” I zipped around all over the place, like a hyper animal let out of a cage. After a few days I realised I had probably developed coping mechanisms for years, to keep myself from going insane due to being cooped up inside all the time. But since having Noola, you cannot keep me indoors.
I know I’m new to this, but . . .
Okay, so here’s something not as super fun that I’ve discovered: bathrooms, while using an accessibility device. Stuff has happened to me in bathrooms that made me feel pillow-wallopy. (I often threaten to get out the Whacking Pillow when I’m miffed.)
Now, I have a micro-bladder, and I understand if there are only two or three stalls and you feel like you’re going to explode, you use the larger stall if it’s the only one free. Also, if you have several children and a stroller and such, or have a genuine need to use the wider stall because those narrow stalls can sometimes be ridiculously narrow, I totes get it. But here’s a few things that I’d like to suggest if you do not have a disability and/or can use the regular stall:
- If you are standing in front of the line inside the bathroom and see a person with an accessibility device and the larger stall becomes free, don’t go into the larger stall. Allow the person with the mobility aid to use the stall. We cannot fit into a smaller one. (Totally happened to me this past weekend. More than once.)
- Maybe don’t hold open the actual stall door for us. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I found it a bit invasive and kind of creepy. A++ for effort, though. I could tell people were trying to be kind.
- When there is no automatic door to enter and exit the bathroom, you can ask if a person with a mobility device needs help with the door. If they say no, don’t argue the point. Personally, I can get inside no problem, but it’s a pain when exiting. I wish all bathrooms had the automatic door openers. I really did appreciate when someone helped me there. But ask first.
Saying yes instead of no
The most wonderful thing about having Noola is that I don’t have to say, “No, I can’t,” to everything. You’d be surprised how much stress I would carry from thoughts like, Do I have to stand in line? and, I hope there’s somewhere I can sit, and, Is there much walking involved? Having a rollator takes a lot of that off my plate so I can just go out and enjoy myself. I spent last weekend at Ottawa Comiccon for all three days. Okay, so, it hit me on the Sunday that I overdid it because I was an enthusiastic puppy, but I had a great time. Last year I’d been almost weeping from pain. This year I zoomed all over the con, sat down when I wanted to munch on a snack, and zoomed around some more. I felt so independent!
I like how my future looks like it will be full of more yes answers than no answers. As an author, I want to see people and do all the things! When I’m not authoring, I want to get out with friends and see my family. My husband and I have started walking together again. I missed that.
When we with disabilities encourage and support each other, amazeballs things happen.
Whee! (That’s my internal thought when I’m rolling with Noola.)
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.