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MS doesn't have to get in the way of family fun day

November 5, 2013


My family is planning a big trip to a theme park this summer. My kids are unbelievably excited, but I'm concerned about all the walking we'll need to do there. Lately, with my MS, there are times when my right leg doesn't want to work right. I don't know what it's called, but it's like the muscles are weak and painful and I just want to sit down until my leg "comes back to life." Heat and long periods of standing or walking can be triggers for this.

I don't want to be a hindrance to my kids' fun. So, I thought about renting a wheelchair. I don't plan to be confined to it all day, just when I get that feeling in my leg until I feel like I can comfortably walk again.

But, how is it going to look when I roll up in the wheelchair, then hop out and walk to/stand in line for an attraction or sit down to dinner? I feel like people will think I'm misusing a wheelchair, too lazy to walk the parks, or making a mockery of someone who really needs it, etc. How should I handle this situation?

Feeling Funny About Using a Wheelchair

Nurse Karen replies:

First off, I think going to the theme park with your family is a wonderful and exciting thing to do, and I'm sure you will all have a great time. Just because you have MS doesn't mean you can't go and do the things you want to do. The wheelchair is a great idea and will be a big help. You'll be able to rest when you need to and you can use it to hold extra supplies (more on those later), so you don't need to carry them all day. You can even push the chair yourself when you're walking, and that will give you extra stability and make walking less stressful. Talk to your doctor about your plans and he may be able to provide additional advice or support, such as a “letter of need” for the park.

It’s important to remember that heat can be a big problem because it can make your existing MS symptoms more noticeable. Make sure to wear light colored clothing and a hat. Take a small cooler full of ice, a little bit of water, and a washcloth. You can use the washcloth to wipe your face or hang it around your neck to help keep you cool. You could even take a spray bottle with you and mist your face every once in a while to cool off that way. You can also get cooling products from the MS Association of America; they have cooling neck wraps and even full vests that are lined with reusable cold packs. It’s also important to remember to get into some air-conditioning and take a little break from time to time.

As far as worrying about what other people think, just because someone is using a wheelchair doesn't mean they need to be confined to it all the time. And anyway, you're going to a big theme park. Are you ever going to see any of these people again? Probably not. Are you going to know any of these people except for your family members? Probably not. Don't miss out on this! Get that wheelchair so you can enjoy yourself and have a great trip with your family.

— Nurse Karen, MS One to One® Nurse

Nurse Karen ; Pain ; Independence ; Fatigue ; Making Plans


MS One to One® Nurse, Karen

Nurse Karen
Helping since 2013
Posts: 9

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Can you give me any advice to make traveling easier (like giving me a "letter of need" to help me get around with a wheelchair)?
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