How to Enjoy A Stitch Festival When You Can't Stay On Your Feet for Long Periods of Time
or, Scooters to the Rescue!

by Mary Helen Inskeep The following article is copyrighted to Mary Helen. Please contact her for reprint permission.

Greetings! My name is Mary Helen Inskeep. I am a woman in my mid-20s who uses braces and crutches to walk. Despite being strong in the arms and otherwise healthy, my physical disability limits the amount of standing and walking I can do. I love going to various conventions, fairs and trade shows, but since I can't walk or stand for long periods, I had to find another way to get around.

I found a -great one-! It's a 3-wheeled electric scooter!

I don't have a driver's license or a car. When I started college in 1991, my parents bought me this scooter. I am still using the same one now, in 1999. She (I gave my scooter the feminine name Andromeda) has gotten me through 5 years of on-campus college life and 3 years in the world of independent living. She is the most wonderful single item that my parents ever bought for me. Andromeda has increased my independence -enormously-. In fact, I couldn't have functioned in college or life since without her! She gets me around almost everywhere I have to go. I park her in my apartment or a corner of the office I work in and go on foot within the building. But if I have to walk a great distance within a building, I ride my scooter as I do for covering long distances outdoors.

I load her down with groceries when I go shopping, then roll her onto the city bus via an access ramp. Thus I can get all my groceries home in one trip, without ever having to carry them myself!

My scooter can also be disassembled by one person (with instructions from me) and loaded into the trunk of a car or back of a station wagon. With small cars, some pieces must travel in the back seat, but this isn't usually a problem. Reassembled at our destination, Andromeda allows me to go on field trips, museum tours, and to conventions. (You can go to the end of this article to read some of my Tales of the Scooter Ride.)

There are many people who once could walk and stand for extended lengths of time, but who find themselves unable to do so now. This can be because of aging, illness, or other physical condition, whether permanent or temporary. Just because you broke your leg (for example) or can't walk more than 30 feet at a time, doesn't mean you can't enjoy life, both indoors and out. I highly recommend a scooter.

I know that some people feel that using a scooter (or a walker, cane, etc.) is a form of surrender. I have to disagree. Staying home, avoiding activities because getting around is so difficult, not getting out to do things and enjoy life - - these, to me, are forms of surrender. But acknowledging one's limitations and finding ways to comfortably adapt your prior activities to them can keep you active, involved, and happy. Lots of places are wheelchair-accessible these days. Some common ones: museums, history centers, county and state fairs, convention centers, hotels, theaters (even some movie theaters), shopping malls, grocery stores, and the list goes on and on.

Now buying a scooter is an expensive prospect. In 1991, my front-wheel-drive model cost $2500, new. But you don't have to buy one. Many shopping centers (and even more grocery stores) will lend them to customers. Most of these types of places will ask for your driver's license/ID card/keys as collateral. A few malls will charge you a fee for x hours of rental, but it varies mall-to-mall. Believe me, the comfort of tooling along and looking around, rather than struggling to walk and being miserable for every minute of it is worth it!!! What's the point of shopping or going to a convention if you can't enjoy it? There is no point. Renting or borrowing a scooter for these trips makes them worthwhile.

There is another type of scooter rental, one that is more useful for going to conventions (especially if you are going to be a presenter, or will be hauling equipment and/or purchases back and forth). That method is to rent a scooter on a weekly or monthly basis from a medical supply store. Call the convention location first, to see if they do rent them, and then start calling medical supply stores in the Yellow Pages listings. They can be listed under "Medical Supply", "Wheelchairs", etc.

Renting one from a store like this has advantages. Mall and grocery store scooters often cannot go out to the parking lot. They commonly are not allowed to leave the building. (Grocery store clerks will, of course, help you get the bags to the car.) But a scooter you rent at a medical supply store goes home with you. You can put it in the car, along with your equipment/baggage, take it to the convention center, then assemble and load it. You ride it all day. You make purchases, present your talk (complete with the props and visuals that you couldn't carry on your own without the scooter), and ride it some more. Then you ride it out to the car, unload and disassemble it, and go home.

There are several things to consider in such a rental:

Enough of the nitty-gritty.

Time for some TALES OF THE SCOOTER RIDE. (a.k.a. How Many Interesting Uses Can I Think of for This Scooter?)

Well, I hope this article has been informative, not to mention entertaining! Remember that life is meant to be lived, not just gotten through. Enjoy! The Little Engine That Could had the right idea. Where there's a will, there's a way - - and probably somebody has already come up against the same problem before. KEEP ON ROLLING!
copyright 1999, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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