The truth about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis


First trip to the shops in my wheelchair (with power assist)

So I’m home, victorious, and damn proud of myself.  I might even order myself the watch I’ve been coveting for almost a year now.  I did that effing well.

Not going to pretend it was easy. When I arrived there were plenty of disabled parks, and I was actually hoping there’d be none left, so I could keep driving, go home and have an excuse as to why I couldn’t do the wheelchair today.

Then I sat in the car for a solid 15 minutes feeling tearful and sick to my stomach.  I considered going in on foot.  Going straight to the wallet shop and straight back.  I could have walked that far. But that’s all I would have been able to do, and I wouldn’t have found the things I bought for the Chicklet and the other presents I bought for the Gamerboy.  It would have been a waste of time and effort, getting the wheelchair in the car, driving it out there and…not using it.  But I thought about it. For quite a long time, actually.

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First attempt at using a power wheelchair.

Just took this power chair for a ride for the very first time.  Emotionally the hardest thing I’ve done in many years.  No one I’ve tried to talk to about it seems to understand that.  Shouldn’t be that hard a concept.

This is the power chair the Qbyn hospital has hired me.  It’s very old, and if you look closely it’s mostly held together by gaff tape. It has no suspension or tilt function, and it’s a really, really rough ride.  So much so that my lower back is in spasm and I can’t move after barely a ten minute ride on the footpath.  Took me almost two weeks to be well enough, and ready to even try.  Now I’m in horrible pain.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis, my wheelchair and the Smart Drive mx1 power assist

smart drive mx1 wheelchair power assistSo I bought the wheelchair, and on tile or hard floors, it’s a dream. It takes a bit of effort to push it over carpet, because I have two very arthritic shoulders.  Propelling a wheelchair is known to be hard on the shoulders, and I’m starting from a place of weak, osteoarthritic and rheumatoid inflamed shoulders as it is.

I had a sub acromial decompression on my right shoulder two years ago, which provided good relief for about a year, before it started to deteriorate again.  It needs doing again, and my left one needs doing too.  But for the amount and time span that I got relief, it isn’t really worth the expense and recovery time.  Not until the inflammation in my body is under control and my joints can be cleaned out, and won’t be destroyed again by constant inflammation.

I also had a rotator cuff tear, and a labral tear.  All of these things are common in wheelchair users, and my shoulders are definitely vulnerable.  So I have bought a wheel chair power assist system, the Smart Drive Mx1.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis and when is it time for a wheelchair

There’s a lot to consider when you buy a wheelchair.  Sounds simple.  You need a wheelchair, you buy a wheelchair, life gets easier.  Except like most things, it’s not that simple when you’re standing on that precipice.

My service dog trainer has a disease that causes progressive paralysis and weakness (not to mention pain) and she is in a wheelchair full time.  She told me I’m what ‘they’ (people who are wheelchairs full time) call ‘lucky’.

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