Disability is not inability image


Not a dirty word.

Or a scary word.

Or a tool for lazy people.

It’s much more, and means even more to those having found their freedom again.

Waking up during the night with a funny, tingling feeling in one of my legs. Thinking nothing of it, I go back to bed.

By morning however, the tingling made way for a numb feeling when I pinch my leg, and an almost rubbery feeling in my foot.

I stand up, never having felt this kind of empty feeling in my body.

My foot refuses to find solid ground, even though I see both feet firmly on the wooden, parquet floor of my bedroom.

My leg still feels like a rubber stamp.

I look.

It’s there, yet it’s not.

What on earth is happening?

Trying to walk to the bathroom, my movement is slower than usual, strength not at all there. In fact, walking has turned to stumbling.

Wondering if I’ll make it down the staircase, I go back to bed.

My gut tells me this is not right, something is just not right.

Work needs to be informed.

Will I even make it to work?

Will I be a liability being like this?

What will everyone think?

“She’s sick AGAIN!!!”

I go over the past few weeks in my life, trying to guess if I had any other symptoms that seemed out of sorts, weird perhaps?

Wrong, maybe?

“Well, I do have MS now, don’t I?”

A light goes off, and I realise my leg has been hypersensitive; unable to get rid of that feeling where clothes or duvet weighs a ton on my skin.

While I’m going over more events in my mind, I fall asleep again.

My manager has been trying to call me to find out where I am.

My body feels totally out of whack.

Sensations I have never felt before.

Walking normally now slowed down to “nanny-gait” as one of my friends so gently called it.

More sleep, more pain, more everything.

Sleeping for weeks now, side effects of medication.

Legs not working.

Arms not working.

Face stuck; eye wonky; inside it feels like I’m a roller coaster because of vertigo.

Ah sure. Smiling because of friends and family support.

Holiday arrives; feeling crap but perhaps it is what I need mentally.


Lakes, mountains, Verona, Venice.

Funny legs.

Buy a cane, need a literal third leg.

Cane in plain black. Sure, black is my favourite colour anyway.

No cane. No energy.

No proper other leg to stand on.

Buy a foldable cane in Italy. Sure, it’ll help cruising down Venetian streets.

Back home, in need of a holiday to make up for the holiday in Italy.

Legs still mushy.

Like overcooked spaghetti.

More sleep.

More medication to stay awake.

More stomach problems because of medication.

Back in bed again.

Oh, still have two crutches from when I damaged my knees rock-climbing in 2002.

Hhmm, perhaps I need to get a funkier cane.

Black’s just black.

Perhaps get one in the Irish tri-colour?

Or one with Snoopy printed on it?

Pinky, of Pinky and the Brain?

One that’ll make me smile.

One that’ll help me forward.

One that’ll keep a wheelchair at bay.


Not a bad thing at all.

All hail to wheels to help me forward.

Letting me live.

But not just yet.


For more on this video, please go here.

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is 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.

8 thoughts on “Wheelchair?

  1. Billie, I think you’re so right about people’s absolute fear of wheelchairs and, let’s face it, who would want to have to use one rather than being able to walk around independently. However, during all my years of research into the life histories of people with physical disabilities, I was struck by the extent to which the reluctance and fear associated with wheelchair use so often turned into wonderment at ‘how could I not have seen the positives of a wheelchair in terms of enabling me to go places that had become out of bounds.’ Never an easy decision and definitely one not to be foisted on someone with a disability ~ of whatever age. But, the positives need to be highlighted as any one of us could find ourselves not able to walk ~ and from my experience with my own parents, I know that just because one is well into one’s 80s, doesn’t make the whole issue any easier.

    1. Of course, you want to keep your sense of independence and I totally understand this. Nobody likes being dependent on someone else. I just think the sense of being free overpowers the need to use a wheelchair. Take care OK!

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