WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Scooter mobility outmanoeuvres shyness

Features

Fr Kevin Neal
4 May 2012

There’s something about a mobility scooter that has been putting me off.

I had one when I first left the hospital after the stroke six years ago. This was a motorised wheelchair and I certainly got my money’s worth out of it. When my legs started working again, I had to give it up. Then when I lived in Stratford for a few months I was lent a mobility scooter.

Relinquishing the mobility scooter when I left Stratford was good in a way because it made me reach out and eventually walk even without a stick.

When I went to Taradale I could walk around though with a definite limp and no further than about 100 metres. Eventually walking between shops became a reasonable proposition provided no one behind me was in a hurry or in my way. Stopping, starting and manoeuvring needed advanced warning and the destination had to be still within about 100 metres.

The car is generally adequate because, with some adaptation, I can drive but only to parks reserved for drivers with a disability, marked in yellow, because I need some room to get out of the car.

This means that there are whole areas of town that I can’t go into and on foot I can still manage only a few hundred metres.

So, six years down the track, I’ve bought a second-hand motorised scooter and it is marvellous. I can go anywhere, even into shops and I haven’t crashed into anything or backed myself into a corner yet.

I never recognised it in myself before but I found I was a little ashamed to be seen on a scooter. The first time I took the scooter out, I wondered self-consciously what people were thinking, but I needn’t have bothered. I’m a bit super sensitive to remarks about stroke victims but there just haven’t been any.

A purple people-eater
While motoring about on my new scooter, I have been stopped several times by people who have wanted to talk about my latest homily without their even noticing the scooter. I could have been riding a purple people-eater for all the people seemed to mind.

This has been a marvellous learning for me to realise that people simply didn’t see the wheels.

I’m sure that there are others like me who feel a bit self-conscious about having to use a mobility scooter because they think the whole world is watching, but there’s no need. Believe me – they’re not. The average person doesn’t give the scooter a second glance.
I have found that when I go out, there is a much bigger issue at stake – how does one keep warm and protected now that weather is closing in.