A hot pink wheelchair.

Using a Wheelchair in Public for the First Time

I’ve been using mobility aids for a while. My main two have been my rollator walker and my cane. If you’ve seen me on Instagram, I’m the girl with the pink mobility aids!

I recently decided to get a wheelchair to help me on bigger excursions. I used it three times this summer, and I want to tell you how it went!

The initial nerves

I was so nervous before the first time I used my wheelchair. Would people stare? Would people even see me? I knew it was going to be challenging both physically and mentally.

My mom and I were going to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. Our favorite event of the summer was finally back after 2 years missing due to COVID! The event was massive, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk with my walker at all. It would be way too much and I’d regret it almost instantly.

Before we went, to make myself more excited to use it, I made my wheelchair look pretty! I added hot pink duct tape to the spokes, and stickers all over it to decorate. I also added my hot pink backpack to the back - for practical use, but also to add more pink!

This made me want to use it more, it got me a little excited to use it instead of being boring and black.

The night before the event I was really nervous. I knew it would be a challenge, especially the first time, using it in public. I tried to tell myself that if I wasn’t using the wheelchair, I wouldn’t even be going. I would miss out if I didn’t want to use it.

It wasn’t bad at all!

Initially, I used my wheelchair as a walker to start the day. I knew I would need to sit down at some point, but I wanted to do a bit of walking.

When I did sit down in the chair, my mom pushed me and away we went through the CNE. Luckily, the first day of the event (which lasts 18 days) is never too busy. There weren’t enormous amounts of people to wheel through, which made it easier.

As the day went on, it did get easier for me in the chair. I knew people would look but I didn’t really care. I knew I needed it, and that’s all that mattered to me after a certain point. It was way too much walking for my body.

The challenges

The most challenging part of being in the chair for the whole day was the mental aspect. The fact that nobody saw me because I was literally below them. People rarely moved until the last possible second to move out of my way. It was frustrating!

It’s incredibly frustrating not being seen or heard. We would say “excuse me” and people wouldn’t hear. I’d say that was the worst part of being in the chair for the few times I’ve used it now.

My takeaway

Overall, using the wheelchair for big events like the CNE is incredibly worth it. As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t be going if I wasn’t using the chair, so it provides me the freedom to go where I want to!

Have you used a wheelchair off and on before? What was it like for you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net 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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