Surrendering to the Mobility Scooter

Movement wears me out. It really is as simple and yet, as complex as that. The more I move, the more pain I endure, the more my muscles literally weep inside me and the more they cramp and spasm. Don’t get me wrong. I am all too familiar with what they call at the Mayo Clinic, “earned pain.” I used to be a competitive, fast-pitch softball player. I’ve been active most of my life. This pain is not the type of soreness you feel after a tough workout. So, the physical and occupational therapists worked daily with me in the hospital to determine ways to make life more accessible and frankly, bearable.

We tried a cane. We tried a walker but because of the intense pain in my triceps, those devices just lit up my upper arms. One day, someone suggested a wheelchair but again, unless it was electric – it was too taxing for my upper arms.

Plus, as I’m sure most anyone in my situation would react, my first instinct was a freaking wheelchair?! Are you kidding me?!

However, the therapist suggested I think of my energy like a tank of gas. You only have so much. Why would I use all of my energy getting from location to location and then, have none left for whatever I was hoping to do? This made sense. It stung but made sense.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood over the years – utterly spent – at the end of the long hallway looking down at my apartment door. In the movie, Poltergeist, there’s a scene where the mom is running to save her daughter and the hall just keeps getting longer and longer as she runs.

That’s how I felt. Every. Single. Time. Or I’d be out on a video shoot and just getting from the car to the shoot location would leave me exasperated.

It is a battery-operated mobility scooter with a tilt option for the controls. So, I can position the handle area so that I don’t need to stretch my arms to operate the device, which would worsen the pain in my triceps. It also collapses with the touch of the key and weighs 50 pounds, so I can use it at the airport – ride it all the way to where we board the plane and check it there like a piece of luggage. Glorious!

I still found myself limited in my mobility in that I couldn’t load the collapsed scooter into my car by myself. I needed to ask someone to do it for me. My family would help. My work mates would help. I even asked a stranger a time or two.

One time, I had no help and tried to lift it into the car only to slip on some ice – and to play off the popular nursery rhyme:

When Naomi slips, the scooter will fall,

And down will come Naomi, scooter and all.

I detest needing a mobility scooter. Absolutely detest it. And yet, I’m so grateful for it. Not long after getting it, I was able to go for a “walk” with our youngest daughter and our dog. That moment was worth every bit of shame I felt in needing the scooter.

I will say that it has also been a gift in that it has taught me just how far we still need to go to ensure our communities are truly accessible. We’re not even close… but that, my friends, is a story for another day.

Published by Naomi Binkley

A mama, wife, Coloradan, storyteller, entrepreneur with a once-hidden illness - now a progressive and painful disability - ready to share my story after a career of telling those of others as a video production company owner.

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