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illustration with 3 wheelchairs: 2 stand by a man and woman, 1 shines alone in the centre

Living with progressive MS: My four-wheeled friends


I use a wheelchair all the time. And scooters when I’m going further. These are my four-wheeled friends, and without them I couldn’t do everything I do with my human (and animal) friends.

I’m very close to my wheelchair. Fortunately, I can still use my hands and arms to propel myself, so I use it all round the house. I sit in it most of the waking day, and it sleeps upstairs next to the bed. I see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. And it doubles as my gym buddy. So I named it Petal.

Now I don’t want to make the wheelchair jealous, but these days I’ve two other mobile mates. JAK1 is my off road scooter. JAK2, is a fold up, portable version. Why have I named all these ‘mobility aids’? Well, partly to avoid words like that. Because I have to talk about them a lot, and it’s so much nicer to say “I’ll take JAK1” than “I’ll use the large scooter”. 

It feels right to personalise something so personal.

Accidental friends

I use JAK1 daily, to get out and about up the farm track where we live – and it's even licensed on the roads. I stick to the very quiet country lanes, though. Since the ‘incident’ when I whizzed out of control. I managed to tip the scooter and slip out the side into a flower bed. Totally my fault.

Thanks to its fool-proof design, JAK1 and I were unharmed. After such a dramatic test, I can honestly say it is safe (just the driving that needed examining!). I also made some new friends out of it – ramblers who helped me up from the grass where I was now sitting.    

Always work with kids and animals

JAK1 is very good for carrying small elderly dogs, tired of walking. Also in the basket at the front sits a bright orange fluffy Octopus called Otto (showcasing the Octopus trial). And with JAK1 I’m always the fave great-aunt when I give little ones rides – sitting on my knee, holding the handlebars, pretending it’s a real motorbike...

Without JAK1 I couldn't continue to live here, our home for over 20 years.  

Wheels get me round

JAK2 – the fold up scooter – comes with me whenever I’m taken out in the car (I can no longer drive). I know wheeled access is far from perfect, but where I tend to go with JAK2, the pavements and kerbs seem much friendlier these days, and built with more ramps. We can get around the shops or across London for my monthly Octopus trial check up.   

So my life is wheels all round to keep me mobile... and I do feel a bit guilty my wheelchair has lost its name.