Living with MS is filled with new adventures and challenges I never dreamed that I would have to face. Some of the roadblocks are easy to overcome and some are…well, let us just say…not so much. Many of the bumps in the road have been smoothed over and now it is smooth driving. I walked for many years using a cane. I then followed the natural progression from cane to a standard wheelchair. For the past five years, I have been using a power wheelchair as my legs. The “chairs” took some getting used to, to say the least. The biggest challenge was how to transport them from point A to point B. I could fold my manual chair in half and pick it up to put it into the Chevy Blazer I owned at the time. After awhile, I was no longer able to pick it up. As a solution, I purchased a small hitch mounted luggage platform and mounted it on the back of the Blazer. Problem solved, right? Not on your life, bub! A new set of adventures began…
I was still working at the time. After work, I had to pick the boys up from daycare. In a mad dash, I threw the chair on the trailer, tied it down and was off. I picked up the boys on time and all was right with the world. I started out on the expressway as always when I noticed a car right behind me…way to close for my comfort. I slowed down hoping my bumper hemorrhoid would just pass me. He finally got the hint, and started around me, driving along my side. However, he did not pass. He just sat next to my driver’s side window. I rarely make eye contact with people like this and never with my two kids in the car. Finally, I looked over and seen this guy gesticulating wildly. What a creep. I was determined to ignore the guy but be wary since I was going home. There was no way I was going to have Creepy Man follow me home. He finally moved in front of me but slowed down. I tried to change lanes to avoid this maniac only to find that I had a line of cars beside me and behind me. OMG-are my kids in the car? A quick look in back reassured me that the boys were safe and sound. I calmly drove slowly but decided I was not going to stop, even if it meant I had to drive in the ditch. I was not on the expressway very long and my exit was less than a mile away. By now, the line of cars around me totaled eight. Some people had whizzed right past my hangers on, so I never surmised that the people around me were trying to tell me some thing. The exit I needed to take us home was approaching. I waited until the last possible second in order to shake Crazy Guy ahead of me and off the exit we went. Victory! Crazy Guy had no way to follow me…hurrah! My eight hemorrhoids followed me but that particular exit is a popular road. After all, they did not try to run me off the road like Crazy Guy. The line of eight cars followed me all the way to my house. By now, I was mad. I knew my neighbors were home and I had backup. I was going to confront these weirdo’s. I would lock the boys in the car and give Ryan the keys. That was the plan. I was ready. This was before cell phones became the norm I got out of the Blazer and confronted a mixed bag of humanity. The people were seniors, soccer moms, and a couple of twenty-something boys. What the heck….?? They were hysterical…at me. They said I hit a handicapped person and was dragging their wheelchair behind the Blazer. I was horrified. I went to the back and sure enough, I was indeed dragging a wheelchair…my own. I explained that the chair was mine and I must not have tied it down properly. I swear that my dad taught me how to tie a decent knot! And guess who showed up next? Crazy Guy…or Officer Friendly the off duty Michigan State Trooper. He called in my license plate and was able to get my address. He also called a few of his friends, the Not-So-Friendly on duty Michigan State Troopers. Ooops! It all worked out in the end. I showed them the error in knot tying and received a stern lecture, deservedly so. They also clapped me on the back for the evasive measures, calm demeanor, and crafty exit maneuver to lose a potential danger! The question was then asked why I needed the wheelchair. I have MS, I replied. But you do not look sick…if I had a nickel for every time I heard that line!
As my condition worsened, I began to use a power wheelchair to get around. I drive the chair with a joystick, much like a video game console. However, I never played video games. The joystick gave me fits for a while. Crowded stores were off limits to my new chair. Finally, I felt comfortable enough to traverse the mall during sidewalk sales. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up being hung up a rack of underwear. The rack was hooked on my back wheel and impossible for me to remove it. I looked around for a salesperson. None was found. Was it lunch time?? Salespeople are ALWAYS around, unless you need one to free you from a vicious rack of clearance underwear. I decided to find help myself and set off through the store, dragging the rack of underwear with me. By the time I made it to the service desk, I had a rack train that included the underwear rack, a kids’ snowsuit rack and a small bin of throw pillows. I did manage to get help without knocking over one single display, so I guess I passed joystick-driving 101.
That is why I am called HELL ON WHEELS!