February 7, 2015
My partner asked about a month ago whether we might want to get a wheelchair. My mother was not so sure and I could understand her concern. I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair. I wanted to be doing my own thing right up until my radioactive iodine treatment (RAI). We decided to leave it at the time and take things as they came. Looking back, I think it was best not to jump to conclusions and get one right away because you don’t want to convince yourself into thinking you will absolutely need it. Another factor is that if you have one lying around, you might be tempted to use it before you need to.
I say this because for over a week now I have been wishing I was a little kid who could just be carried over the shoulders of any semi-strong adult and be on my way. Instead, I have had to drag my feet to get to appointments or outside for fresh air. But, at least I was getting some kind of activity in and using my legs in some way.
Yesterday, everything changed. I had reached my limit and I was not a happy little munchkin. I was irritable, grumpy, missing my old life more than ever and was not willing to try to be patient anymore. I had had enough. I complained that I wanted to go outside but my legs couldn’t hold me. I whined that I wanted to see what was going on outside. I wanted to be a part of the world, not just look at Facebook and Instagram home pages or look at any type of screen for that matter. The fact that I would have to be in isolation for the coming 10 days or so starting next Wednesday didn’t help either.
We were brainstorming what to do (I was pessimistic that I had any options but to groan and grumble) and then suddenly the wheelchair idea resurrected itself. There was some talk about a walker vs. a wheelchair but in the end, a wheelchair turned up during one of my naps. My eyes widened at the sight of it and then, “Can we go outside, please?” I instantly reverted back into a much sweeter creature resembling a human once again. We then went to the Toronto Reference Library.
- The wheelchair made my “invisible” disability into one that people can see and acknowledge appropriately. Otherwise, people tend to judge my young, little self needing a seat on the subway or don’t understand it when I can’t open a door so I have no help.
- I can nap in my wheelchair. So if we’re out and I just doze off for a while, that’s okay.
- I can be wheeled around if we have a longer distance to cover but I can also hobble behind my wheelchair with the handle bars for support. This way, I am not limited to hobbling in the corridor outside my department or just the street outside my building.
- I get exhaust fumes in my face sometimes when we cross the road.
- Some places are really not as accessible and so it is still a little tricky, depending where you want to go.
- I get sympathy glances sometimes. But that’s okay, I smile back because you know what, I am mobile once again!
I wouldn’t say a wheelchair is mandatory for everyone out there on thyroid hormone withdrawal. If you can manage without it, it’s probably better to keep going until you absolutely can’t. I will advocate the choice to make that decision for yourself and what your priorities are. Despite the cost, this purchase was more important for my sanity (and for those around me). Today, I was out of the house for 3 whole hours! We went to Indigo and The Disney Store because those were TTC accessible and I took a nap near some floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking snowy Yonge Street. I had a pure mango juice drink (no iodine!), watched people go about their day and practiced wheeling myself around. It was a good day.
Tomorrow, guess what? I am going to Ripley’s Aquarium. I would never have been able to think about doing that right now without my wheelchair.