Hello one and all,
Sorry I haven't been around much the past week or so, but I am just having a bit of a tough time. Still no definite diagnosis from the local rheumy (sigh) and now my GP has decided to send me to see an Ophthalmologist PDQ and a Neurologist as she is suspecting MS on top of my suspected RA (will the fun never end?) But I don't want to dwell on that as it has pretty much dominated my thoughts lately so here's a tale about my first 'go' on a mobility scooter on Friday. Hope my escapades cheer you
Are you sitting comfortably? Well as comfy as we can with RA? Then I shall begin...
I needed desperately to go into our main town yesterday, as my mobile phone had given up the ghost but it was still in warranty so it had to go back to the shop. The mobile phone shop is unhelpfully in the middle of the long pedestrianised high street, with a car park at either end. However, one car park has the Shopmobility people on the second level so I opted for that car park and with the help of my son, I hobbled, with all the speed of a racing snail, into their office.
The gentleman in there was very kind, walking along the line of mobility scooters until he found one he thought looked ok for me. (A mixture of Pred and inactivity has turned me into quite the wide load these days!)
"It's my first time" I whispered nervously. He smiled, helped me into the seat and whilst my son strapped my walking stick onto the back, he explained the controls to me. "This one does forward. This one does reverse. Easy. And this is your speed control" He pointed to a round dial with an illustration of a tortoise on one side and a hare on the other. It was currently set roughly halfway between the two. No worries, I'll be 'haring' round soon enough thinks I. So I squeeze the forward lever.
I shot off like a bullet out of a gun across the floor toward the door. A quick shriek from me, a "Hang on" from kindly gentleman and a resigned "Oh Mother" from my son. I stopped. All was well. The kindly gentleman reached over and turned the dial down to 'tortoise' speed. "Just until you get the hang of it" he smiled. (Somewhat nervously I thought!) 'Oh yes thank you" I smiled back. Then when his back was turned, I dialled it down even lower to 'just below tortoise' speed.
Off I went with my son beside me. Did I mention this Shopmobility place is on the second floor? How to get down? Drive in a Dukes of Hazzard style over the wall to the road below? I think not.
Drive down the ramps against the oncoming cars into the car park? Hmmm....no I still think not.
To the lift! The lift looked terribly tiny when the doors slid back.
I drove in and stopped triumphantly without hitting the back wall. Ta-dahh! I'm brilliant! Piece of cake this. I engaged 'smug mode' as the lift descended.
We reached the ground floor. Doors slid open behind me to reveal a gaggle of Friday weary shoppers anxious to lug their shopping up to their cars and begin their weekend. They duly stood aside, like Moses parting the Red Sea, I thought "Aha, I'm no longer invisible as I am with my walking stick, people can see me and will make way"
My son is holding the doors open button for me. "Mum? You going to go?" He motioned his head towards the open lift doors. The open doors which are behind me. Oh dear. Reverse? So soon? But we've only just met!
I breathe in through my nose and exhale loudly through my mouth, as if in the early stages of labour, "Come on Josephine you can do this" I tell myself. I turn the speed dial down as far it will go and slowly squeeze the reverse lever. I move backward and bounce unceremoniously off the edge of the doorway. I panic and wonder if i can perform a three point turn in an 8 person lift? Can it be done? Will I get wedged? Will I be in the Guinness Book of Records? On the news? The Pride of Britain Awards?
"Muuuuum!" My son's finger is turning white from continually pressing the doors open button and my small audience of briefly sympathetic onlookers are beginning to wonder who in their right minds let this mad woman loose in a mobility scooter. (Well maybe not but I feel like they are)
Finally I manage to reverse out of the doorway and pray I don't run over the toes of anyone behind me. I don't and to celebrate I engage 'slightly less smug but still quite satisfied' mode.
The open road awaits! Well the high street to be precise and it's not exactly an open road, there are pedestrians, shoppers galore with bags and brollies swinging precariously close to me, texters with their heads down staring intently at their phones whilst walking straight toward me, headphones plugged into their ears. Children on half term hols skipping blindly along not looking where they're going. What's the law if I run someone down (even at minus tortoise speed) if they run into my path? Am I insured?
My mind starts to wander again trying to remember if any of those accident lawyer ads on the telly feature anyone run down by a mobility scooter, when one of the prancing, dancing children, skips past with a toy in their hand. It looks something like a Mr. Potato Head as it's arm flies off before me (Mr. Potato Head's arm, not the child's, just so we're clear!) I stop immediately but can see from the bereft look on said child's face that the toy plastic arm is beneath the front wheels. Her face crumples, her parent walks on oblivious, so I trundle forward quickly to release the arm only to feel the back wheel rumble over it. I am mortified and look round but child and parent have both disappeared round the corner and Mr. Potato Head's arm lies forlorn, yet surprisingly undamaged, on the ground.
My journey continues although I do feel invisible again and very, very vulnerable at this height. However, soon i am gaining confidence so I cheekily turn the speed dial up toward Mr. Tortoise's leg, the shops whizz by and I fear I might break the sound barrier at any second so I (less cheekily) turn it back down again. By now I have totally disengaged any form of 'smug mode' and am pinging between "Whose bright idea was this?", to "Actually this isn't so bad" to "Oh My God I'm going die!" full on panic mode!
The mobile phone shop appears much quicker than it has done in recent months (due to my ever slowing walking ability) and I am pleased to see nice, WIDE, open double doors. I glide in like a swan on a lake, spot the HUGE queue and deftly release the forward lever. The floor is smooth. And shiny. Oh so, so shiny. The scooter continues it's graceful glide. Towards the queue of people. This is it! I'm in some horrible life size game of human skittles and I'm the bowling ball! I close my eyes and grit my teeth. Nothing happens. I open my eyes and everything is fine. There is no carnage. I am saved! The queue is saved! There will be no BBC reporter standing outside in the wind, by a fluttering 'Police! Keep Clear!' tape whilst ambulances gather and helicopters buzz overhead. I engage 'Extreme Relief mode'.
I task my son with joining the queue whilst I slide, glide, quick, quick, slide to a less crowded part of the shop and await my turn.
The rest of the shopping trip is not too bad, though I am heartily relieved not to have seen anyone I know. It's certainly good to be able to travel at a reasonable speed along the high street, even braving a couple of shops (after scrutinizing the shininess of the floor through the window first!) I even managed to turn the speed up a bit more, making my son break into a trot ha ha! Bet he never thought he'd have to ask me to slow down! I reduce the speed again and we head back to the car park. Or rather the dreaded lifts.
I've got it sussed now, I will reverse IN and then I can gracefully sweep out forwards when the doors open! I swear the opening narrows when in you're in reverse though ...
Finally I manage it, my son's finger is white again from depressing the doors open button and an elderly gent has nimbly nipped in too and is standing beside me. I suddenly feel fraudulent and ridiculous. Here am I at 49 on a mobility scooter and there beside me is a man easily in his seventies, who nipped in so quickly and quietly I half expect him to leave a box of Milk Tray and depart via the hatch in the lift ceiling. He does neither, but I'm still green with envy when he does finally leave through the doors at a fair old pace on his own two legs!
I trundle back to the Shopmobility centre, kindly gent is still there and there's a lady too, who gently berates kindly gent for not getting me to fill in all the necessary forms before I shot off like Evil Knieval earlier.
"How did it go, did you manage ok?" asks Kindly Gent
"Yes thanks" I hear myself say "I'll definitely be back!"
So that was my first foray into the world of mobility scooters!