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Adult walking down sidewalk in public with pink sparkly cane.

Using Mobility Aids in Public

I’ve been using mobility aids for about 4 years now. The thing is, it wasn’t until more recently that I started to use them in public as needed.

I was always scared

I think something a lot of people with invisible disabilities worry about is using a mobility aid in public. If we outwardly look “normal”, what will people think? Will they stare and whisper? Will they make a comment when I use the wheelchair parking spot, but get out without a mobility aid?

These are some of the questions that went through my head when I thought about using one of my aids in public. I use a cane and a walker when I need to. But most of the time that’s just around the house, helping me get up and down the stairs, or from bed to the bathroom.

Whenever I actually left the house, I would just fake whatever pain or discomfort I was having. I would suck it up and pay the consequences later. I didn’t care whether that would cause me more pain or damage in the long run, I was too embarrassed to use my mobility aids at 22 years old.

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What happened when I used my mobility aid in public

Recently, I took my cane and walker out in public. I used my cane when I took a trip to Walmart before Christmas, and before the second wave of COVID really hit us hard. I was worried, but that day I was in pain and quite fatigued, aka a normal Saturday for me.

I had gotten a new cane, a sparkly pink cane, and was nervous that it would bring more attention to me and the cane itself. What I discovered though, was that no one actually cares. No one looked at me, no one stared and whispered, I was just another person at Walmart during the Saturday rush.

When I left the store that day, I felt about 10 times more confident than I did walking in. I also felt silly, that I spent all those years worrying about how others would react and putting myself in more pain just to avoid the judgment of others.

When I took my walker outside

A few weeks ago, I took my new walker outside in public. I spray-painted it pink and added glitter and some stickers to it. I can’t rave enough about the importance of customizing and personalizing your mobility aids to make you more comfortable.

Anyways, I took it down the street for a walk one afternoon with my dad. I felt comfortable doing this because it was a colder day, and not many people were outside. A walker is definitely more noticeable than a cane, so it’s going to take a bit of warming up.

We ended up talking to a woman who lives down the street from us, and after 5 minutes she asked if I was recovering from something. I told her I actually have arthritis, and she took it well and the conversation moved on.

I was actually pretty comfortable with answering her questions. She didn’t say it in a rude way, she was genuinely curious, as I’m sure most people would be when they see a younger person using a mobility aid.

I wasn’t offended, I don’t think I would ever be offended unless someone made a rude comment towards me.

My takeaway

After both of these experiences using my mobility aid outside of the house, I feel even more confident to do it in the future. People generally don’t care when they see it, but there are a few that are curious and will ask questions, and that’s okay too!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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