Instead of Giving Up, I Will Try Something New
Sometimes the hiccups or surprises that psoriatic arthritis and my other chronic illnesses produce make doing what I love feel impossible. But if I have learned anything in all of these years, some things just require a new way of being done.
A bump in the road
Last summer, I began experiencing extra inflammation and pain in my knees whenever I spent the majority of the day on my feet, specifically at Disneyland. I didn’t think too much about it at first, because it was the first time since my diagnosis in 2003 that I had been well enough to push my body’s boundaries. And pushed them I did.
Since this only happened a few times a month, I didn’t think it would become a long term problem. Well, I was wrong!
Dealing with worsening symptoms
The frequency of this issue increased as the year went on. By the end of November, it became a serious problem, but not just for my knees!
In addition, I was also knocked down by bronchitis and hit with the worst costochondritis flare I have ever experienced. It took 6 weeks to fully overcome my bout of bronchitis, but I never recovered from the costochondritis flare. My energy never returned and my physical ability continued to dwindle. To make matters worse, I suffered several broken ribs. My days of walking through Disneyland had come to an end.
Time for a new strategy
I had a choice. The first being that I wait until I healed to return to Disneyland or the second choice was accepting that I had to be pushed through the park in a wheelchair again. You might think that going back to using a wheelchair again would have been an easy decision since that was the only way I was able to visit Disneyland from 2005 to early 2018. But let’s face it, having a taste of freedom is not easy to let go of.
Healing broken ribs
Broken ribs made it easy to accept having to use my wheelchair because I knew they would eventually heal. That gave me hope of returning to the life and freedom I had fallen in love with last year. If only it were that simple.
It took 12 weeks for my ribcage to heal. I have to be extremely careful about what I eat and how active I am to keep the inflammation surrounding my ribs low. We (my doctors and I) are still clueless as to why my ribs broke so easily and in so many areas. This has made me more cautious about how hard I push my body.
Instead of being able to replace my wheelchair with my rollator for all-day outings, I shortened my time out. The reason being that my body needs to walk, it just can’t walk all day. This required using my wheelchair as a walker. Pushing a wheelchair throughout Disneyland with a person in it is difficult enough. Pushing an empty wheelchair is the worst as people are less considerate when they see an empty seat.
Back in action
Accepting that I am not going to see a change in how my body is behaving anytime soon, I began brainstorming solutions. I haven’t found a way to walk all day without increasing the inflammation throughout my ribcage or knees, but I have found a way to keep it under control.
Thankfully, it was time to replace my walker that I purchased way back in 2007. While researching new rollators, I stumbled across a rollator/transport chair combo! It was like the sky opened and angels began singing!!
Wheelchair or rollator?
I no longer have to choose between my wheelchair or rollator. I have both in one easy to use device. No more bringing both and having to have a family member go to the car to swap them out, no more pushing harder just to stay out a few more minutes, and no more feeling embarrassed from pushing an empty wheelchair. When in rollator mode, it looks nothing like a wheelchair and it is just as comfortable as my wheelchair when I transform it.
What have you found to help you extend your time away from home?
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