Out and About in Spite of MS
Being primarily homebound is not what I signed up for. Getting out, for me, can definitely be tiring and requires quite the effort. When I was no longer able to get in and out of my car after breaking my foot, the lack of accessible transportation added to my in-home status. However, since most doctors don't do home visits and some matters can't be assessed remotely, it was necessary to find a way.
Transportation options for people with MS
I registered for Paratransit transportation for those appointments when needed. Paratransit is a bus service mandated by the state to provide services to ADA-certified disabled persons and dialysis patients (and on a space-available basis, the elderly also). I'm pleased this service is available because, at this juncture, I deem even doctor's appointments as a 'fun' outing! When I have an appointment, with great enthusiasm, I carefully select my attire and all accessories the evening before so as not to forget a thing. When the Paratransit arrives to pick me up, I happily pay my fee (the trip costs $4 each way) to go about my business...on my outing...to my doctor.
When disability puts a wrench in getting around
With that said, there's just nothing like a real excursion with my J's (Justin and Jessica) and even my 'fur baby', Bailee. I'm...we're...still incredibly leery of attempting the transfer process from my wheelchair to a car so we've been missing the day trips and scenic rides I love so very much. My therapist thinks I can get back to the maneuvering I need to transfer again but shares my feelings that an accessible vehicle is the safest choice at this juncture.
Financially, that type of vehicle isn't feasible right now so I contacted the local MS Society to discuss my plight. They sent me information and resources relative to accessible vehicle purchase, conversion, and rentals. I concluded that, for now, renting was a more viable option for me.
What is MobilityWorks?
I reached out to MobilityWorks, a national chain of wheelchair-accessible van providers that serves the disabled community with wheelchair-accessible minivans, full-size vans with lifts, and commercial fleet vehicles. Three times since discovering MobilityWorks, my weekends have begun with me excitedly thinking, 'MS, stand down, because I'm getting a wheelchair-accessible van for a weekend of fun!' Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we are out - and inevitably, Monday I rest. A very necessary yet small price to pay for these invaluable weekends.
My van-rental excursions
The first rental was for my birthday in February. What a weekend! I went on a scenic ride Friday, and Saturday, a day trip to LOVE Park (John F. Kennedy Plaza). Sunday, we were able to make quick, drive-by visits to my sisters' homes and then to my parents' to celebrate my actual birthday. They hosted us with a celebratory dinner party complete with made-from-scratch birthday cake and homemade ice cream!
The second rental was Mother's Day weekend. After our ride out on Friday, Saturday we headed out of town to The Cookout, a restaurant we love and is known for its drive-thru BBQ, burgers, and shakes. We went to a nearby park in the area and ate while enjoying the scenery. And Sunday, I was able to celebrate my mother with the rest of my family at my parents' home and not from afar like I had to do the month prior for Easter. Monday, I slept the day away - extremely happy and very tired!
The following month, Father's Day weekend, my son headed back to MobilityWorks. That particular weekend, I didn't get out on Friday. Saturday, however, I was “up and at ‘em”! I was able to celebrate my father, and again, with the rest of my family at my parents' home and not from afar. Our day trip on Sunday was to the Baltimore Inner Harbor, a historic seaport, tourist attraction, and landmark of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. And again, on Monday, I slept the day away - extremely happy and very tired!
The joy a little freedom can bring
This journey with this chronic disease is not easy. Putting MS and MS-related concerns on the back burner, even for a short period, is good for me and my family. The things that bring me joy, like the happiness my outings bring, for example, are conducive to enhancing my quality of life, mental health, and overall wellbeing.
Do you ever swear you smell smoke or cigarettes but there's nothing there?