I’m such an idiot. I don’t know why I didn’t register with shop mobility before. Well, I do, it’s because:
1) I didn’t realise I was allowed to to use it, to start off with. I think I thought it was only for people who have physical disabilities, rather than people like me who have invisible ones.
2) Then, when I did realise, I was too stubborn to use it because I didn’t want to admit defeat and acknowledge that I needed it.
3) I thought people would be judgemental- I can physically walk but I feel terrible after just a few metres, thanks to my Adrenal Insufficiency.
I mostly agreed to shop mobility because we needed to buy birthday presents and I didn’t trust my husband not to buy silly things if he went by himself. But I also wanted to look for my friends’ presents, and be part of the process, which I wouldn’t be able to do if I had to walk. I tend to avoid shopping at all costs, unless I absolutely have to go because it’s too hard. I really struggle with:
- standing in queues
- walking around shops
- trying things on
- carrying things around
- needing easy, regular access to a bathroom (ie with minimal walking)
- finding places to sit down every few minutes
- avoiding walking into people
- controlling my body temperature
- the noise of the shops. Bright lights and lots of background noise make me tired quickly because they take more energy to process.
- the amount of pain it causes.
The last time a friend took me shopping, we managed a grand total of 2 shops, all next to each other so virtually no walking, and it took about 2 hours, to factor in all the sitting down and stopping. He eventually brought shoes over to me to try on and I had a nap when we got back. Then, I ended up in hospital 2 days later because I’d overdone it. So, this time, I decided to recognise that if I wanted to continue doing things like shopping, it’s ok to take the assistance available.
The man giving out the equipment didn’t even bat an eye when I said it was for me. I could have hired a scooter, but I decided to borrow a wheelchair which my husband could push so that I didn’t have to worry about driving into things in shops as well as my paranoia about using it for the first time. I was really surprised it was free- all I needed was a piece of ID.
Once I’d got over my fear that everyone would be looking at me and thinking ‘she doesn’t need that, what a fraud’, or similar, and realised that no one actually cared, I was a bit annoyed at myself that I didn’t do this sooner. With shop mobility, my husband and I went into many shops, in fact we exhausted all potential present shops. It was a nice feeling to buy people gifts based on what I thought they might like rather than going ‘OK, I’m done, we need to buy something now’ and then having to sleep for 4 days afterwards (not an exaggeration sadly).
The server in the restaurant didn’t mind the fact I got up and left the wheelchair by the door, and he was considerate in asking me whether I had a preference in where we sat- very well worded and thoughtful.
My husband and I got some funny looks from passers-by when he got the chair caught on a metal floor bit of an automatic door and almost catapulted me out- we laughed a lot. It was funny, why wouldn’t we laugh?! He also made me laugh by saying things like ‘please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle’ like they do on roller coasters, while trying not to crash into displays in Waterstone’s.
It made me realise how much I’ve avoided doing things because it either makes me ill for days afterwards or means I end up going to hospital. All because I didn’t want to ‘be disabled’. The irony is, I was a lot more disabled by avoiding doing things and not accepting help, than if I’d registered with things like shop mobility sooner, which give me back a lot of my function and independence. Lesson learnt? Don’t be an idiot.