By Doug Ankerman
As one with multiple sclerosis for twenty-one years, I have much gratitude and thankfulness to share.
Certainly family comes to mind with their heartfelt devotion, care and attention to my round-the-clock stumbling. My health practitioners earn a much deserved shout-out. As do complete strangers willing to help load packages into my car, offering their place in long lines, to the deputy opening the cell door.
But this isn’t about them.
This message of gratitude honors the gaggle of mobility aids I depend upon each day.
First, my wheelchair. My loyal steed. Though reluctant to use the chair at first, it has become a savior of independence. Taking me through sun, snow, rain and mud, my wheelchair has jostled my backside countless miles. It has allowed me to see nature’s wonders. Witness major events. And traverse cavernous big-box stores. Yes, independence would not be possible without my chair and for that I am grateful.
Next, my rollator. The rollator sits in the garage mostly waiting for yard work to be done. On those intrepid days, the rollator allows me to walk over uneven grass while keeping my weaving body upright.
Plus the rollator’s basket is perfect for carrying small gardening tools, gloves and chilled beverages on warm days. (An MSer must keep hydrated, you know.)
Lastly, canes are my everything. Always within arm’s reach. Canes allow me to shuffle along without leaving messy fingerprints on the walls. My canes help me stand. Canes let me look someone in the eye. And feel somewhat unburdened. Although my gait is glacier-esque in speed, I have tried to create an illusion of fleet-footedness with the clever use of Nike swooshes added to their tips.
If you are curious, they didn’t help. I am still sloth-slow.
My mobility aids have given me life post-diagnosis. Hand controls, wheelchair, AFO, rollator, Dyna-splint, canes, grab bars, I feel like the Inspector Gadget of disability. But it is all for a purpose. A purpose of independence. And for that I am grateful.