I went to a theme park today and knowing my walking has become shuffling, unsteady and exhausting I knew I was putting myself in a situation where a mobility scooter was necessary. I lasted about 10 minutes on my feet before having to stop and rest. I was holding everyone up so I relented and climbed onboard the red machine. I had to give up driving after my diagnosis so this was the first time in nine months I had taken charge of a motor vehicle. With some trepidation I turned the ignition key and the electric motor came to life without a sound; I expected a throaty roar of the engine but alas nothing. I shrugged my shoulders as much as my Parkinson’s will allow and laid my hands on the controls. They consisted of handle bars looped at each end with a moveable lever extending from the centre; I was informed that pushing the lever away from me propelled the machine forward, pulling the lever toward me put it in reverse and letting go applied the brakes. I was ready…
I gently pushed the lever and the mobility scooter lurched forward then settled into a steady pace. I was off!!! The wind streamed passed my face and the surroundings became a blur as I raced ahead, knuckles white as I grasped the handle bars…meanwhile toddlers and old people confidently strode past me and left me in their dust; I was actually doing 2mph! But I was mobile, in control and most importantly sat down resting my legs! I drove around the theme park with growing confidence. I even did a U-turn!
I now realise my fear was misplaced; using a mobility scooter is not about what I’ve lost but what I gain from using it, no matter how fast or slow I go.
I have a friend who has suffered a lot by Parkinson but i always intended to help him. last month I bought him a TGA Superlight RWD. He loves it a lot. and happy now we go every evening for a walk as usual. we spend time just like old days.
Great post dr jonny and well written. I had to use a wheelchair when we went to Florida. Not the same independence as a scooter, but at least I didn't slow everyone down. A friend of mine used to terrify me doing wheelies on his mobility scooter. I quite look forwards to the day I get one!
The first time I drove my scooter I crashed into a shop front!
Having driven a car for over 30 years I was used to having to make a positive action in order to stop so when I tried to park up in front of a shop I instinctively pulled on a lever which of course speeded me up. Fortunately there were several bags of paper and cardboard rubbish in front of the shop or I might have launched myself through the glass window!
I'm much better now but still have the odd moment of panic.