Giving up is not an option

“We are all different – but we share the same human spirit.
Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt – and survive.”
(Stephen Hawking)

Just realised a startling… well… realisation. In three years of online writing, I’ve never as much wrote one blog post about the possibility of ending up in a wheelchair. Is it denial? Simply focusing on being positive? I don’t know what the heck it is, either way, writing about it is way, way overdue.

Of course, when you hear ‘multiple sclerosis,’ you straightaway think of being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life.

Others think of you ending up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.

Suddenly you see wheelchairs everywhere.

If MS hasn’t already put you in one, the word ‘wheelchair’ might suddenly mean a lot more to you than just a few letters mangled together. It’s not an offensive, discriminating term of abuse towards anybody in one because you’re not programmed that way. You sympathise and empathise with people in wheelchairs, you wished you could lift their illness from their body.

But what if a wheelchair suddenly takes you to a another new level of having to adapt to life with MS? You wonder how many more new levels you will have to accept.

With relapsing/remitting MS, predictability becomes shaky at best. Highly fickle disease progress, if any. It’s hard to plan your life around an illness that comes and goes as it pleases. It’s even harder when you know you’re on the progressive road where MS might lock you indoors, unable to do anything. It’s normal to fear loss of mobility, independence and feeling claustrophobic by being trapped in a wheelchair.

If multiple sclerosis was a predictable illness, we would know if or when we need to buy a wheelchair. We might get the house padded in time for you to get lessons in how to avoid door posts, furniture, pets and family. You could ask friends if they have any tips on how to adapt and accept.

I’m not really a numbers-kind of girl, so statistics are only good to me in small amounts. 85% of people diagnosed with MS, are in the relapsing/remitting stage of MS, where unpredictability is well… a constant reminder your brain went a little cuckoo on you. You simply don’t know if in a decade or less, you will be in a wheelchair. This is the anguish of relapsing/remitting MS. No wonder so many people are stricken with fear when they see anything with two wheels shortly after being diagnosed.

Writing this now, it becomes clear that it is not denial. I simply refuse negative thinking, negative wording, negative outlook and most of all, I refuse to believe that this will be my future. “It’s not the end of the world,” really means it’s not the end of the world in my belief. I find a lot of inspiration in seeing some of my friends in their wheelchairs. I can only applaud their commitment for wanting the same lifestyle everyone else wants.

In fact, they’re more mobile than I am physically capable of sometimes on my own legs. Seeing them whizz through the shopping centre, playing soccer, dancing and enjoying life in their electric wheelchair, and seeing me tag behind with only a quarter of a tank of energy left… nice is different!

So yes, wheelchairs are definitely an eye-opener if you’re not in one yet. But in fact, it’s a new beginning for people who’ve been trapped by fatigue and pain for too long, unable to enjoy a social life, a productive life. Like everything else you had to get used to after your diagnosis, a wheelchair will prove you that with support, time and some learning to get around, it will be the start of a new life.

I would consider it triumph over adversity.


©Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Writer of | Everyday Health Top 10 MS Blog of 2018 | Feedspot Top 50 MS Blog 2017, 2018 | Ireland Blog Award Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017 | Contributor to MS Ireland community blog | Contributor to Living Like You, a Novartis sponsored MS blog |

8 thoughts on “Giving up is not an option

  1. Billie, this post is so well written and raises lots of issues about perceptions of wheelchairs.
    Much of the research I’ve undertaken has related to people with physical disabilities and it is amazing how their views on wheelchairs differ. But, I don’t think that should come as any surprise as people are so different in relation to practically everything.

    1. You use a great word in your comment, Marilyn, and one I live by: choice. Happiness is a choice. Choosing happiness and a positive attitude are key to staying on top of things. Keep using those legs and thank you for your nice comment!

    1. Dear Eejit, you are most certainly not an eejit, and I like your blog big time! Thank you for your kind words! You rock! :D

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