(Yet another incoming wall of text I'm affraid!)
I had a quick read / skim of the posts so far and thought I'd chip in!
I have written on these forums about my lack of enthusiasm regarding accepting that I, sometimes, need to use a wheelchair. I do not remember stating one of the main reasons for my trepidation concerning me and wheelchair use. As I wrote in a recent post though I have gone through the stages of walking sticks > elbow crutches > mobility scooter use and now use a wheelchair if 'out and about' away from my home town.
I know that this thread is not about me, it's about you and others that may be coming to a stage in life where wheelchair use is essential (if less than desired). I think I need to tell my tale though so as to show how I have come to accept wheelchair use as a boon.
Way back in the mists of time, when cavemen hunted dinosaurs (dones flame proof suit), I was a very active teenager. Never any good at football or other 'conventional' team sports, I enjoyed long distance runs, longer distance hikes, rides to far flung towns on my bike (they were far flung to me back then) and I took part in other outdoor sports such as rock climbing, orienteering and canoeing whenever I got the chance. Though I did not compete at sports and was not particularly muscular, I was generally quite fit.
One time , when I was (about) fourteen, I was rushed into hospital as I had very suddenly lost use of both my legs and had stiffness in both arms*. I was assessed by a number of health professionals and had to endure two 'lumbar punctures' (I impressed a nurse as I did not even flinch while they where done). Longer story short, I spent about a week in hospital with most of the time in bed and unable to walk. With the help of the hospital ward nurses, I eventually got back to my feet and walked. This is truth - not conveniently made up as some sort of inspirational device!
So! What has that story to do with this thread? The thing that made me most determined to get back on my feet was what one of the wonderful nurses talked with me about. It boiled down to this from the nurse; you have a choice - either get up and walk or spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair.
I realise that I may not be using the correct story in this thread and that what I just wrote may not be what people want to read. - it is, after all, somewhat crass.
When I was a child the prospect of life in a wheelchair frightened me. I could easily defend my argument though that the prospect inspired me. I did, after all, start walking again - it took time and effort but I did it.
I think that anyone reading this can now see why, as an adult, I have been so very much against using walking aids. Thing is, life, cirumstance and maturity are all different now - I am no longer a child. When I recently had to start to use walking sticks to help because of my health condition(s) I used them. Same with elbow crutches, mobility scooter and now my wheelchair.
Some people are disabled all thier life or from an early age. Others, like me, come to disability later. For those in the latter group, adjusting what they do and how they do it because ill health or health condition(s) force the changes can be extremely difficult. Life can seem harsh when these changes need to be made. All is not lost though!
My mobility scooter is my 'sidekick' so to say and helps me get around to do the things I want to. My wheelchair affords me the chance to go further away from my home and is a real boon. Sure! There are times I am incovenienced using walking aids, my scooter or wheelchair but the pros outwiegh the cons to the nth degree.
Try not to look at it as 'succumbing' to wheelchair use as much as taking the opportunity to liberate yourself with the help of a wheelchair. Try not to despair - I know only too well how despairing can make matters worse.
If you can get your energy back up or improve endurance then that can only be good (remember not to over do it). I will write that, as willow posted, getting used to a manual self propelled wheelchair is hard work but the positive is that you get a good workout! Curbs, up hill and uneven surfaces can be 'hell' even to experience wheelchair users but we get used to it.
Sorry if my story came off as scary or crass or offensive. I wanted to show how bad I used to think about having to rely on apparatus to get around. I also want to show how my outlook on this matter has changed and how I passionately feel that it is not about falling to the machine but more about embrassing it when needed. Importantly, it's all about comfort and safety and enabling. The old cliche is often derided but I think it holds very true! Do not look upon yourself as disabled but as differently abled.
*Note: I found out a lot about my heath history after first seeing my GP about ataxia and in the following years. I was recently reminded (I genuinely forgot) the 'lumbar punctures' where enacted because it was thought that I may have had meningitis at the time. Who said "Spinal Tap"? Great group - go all the way to 11. :)