Changing My Rollator From a Foe to a Friend
My ALS symptoms showed up in my feet and legs in 2010. Normally strong and coordinated from years of gymnastics and fitness classes, my lower limbs became weak and unreliable. That’s when my neurologist recommended I begin using a walker.
To be precise, she meant I use a rollator. Although most people use the terms interchangeably, a rollator is a walker with wheels. Walkers are those aluminum, wheelless, hospital-issued devices often used by patients recovering from hip or knee surgery.
But being told I needed one meant I had to accept that I wouldn’t recover. My ALS was a permanent condition and my new normal.
Meeting my rollator
When my brand-new rollator finally arrived, all I could think of were the negatives. It was black, and had four wheels and a basket. Why, I bemoaned, weren’t there better color choices? I wanted a rollator that would blend in with my surroundings and completely disappear when not in use.
When I entered a room, I believed the first thing people noticed was my rollator. In photos, it showed up beside me, and if I hugged a friend, my gangly rollator became entangled in our embrace. At bedtime, it was the last thing I saw before turning out the light and the first thing I glimpsed in the morning.
But now, 11 years have gone by, and I’m still thankfully pushing my rollator. Thankful my symptoms haven’t progressed, and thankful my attitude has come around to see all the positives of owning and using a rollator.
What helped change my mind?
First, I sought the support of my fellow ALS patients.
On the ALS News Today Forums, we had lively discussions about our rollators. The best brands, the best price, rugged all-terrain rollators, and those that can convert into a wheelchair.
We shared helpful tips, and I even shared many of my own in the column, “Learning to Roll Through Life with Rollators.”
Looking back, I realize that the evolution of my mindset from initially disliking rollators to wanting to improve them, to now liking mine just the way it is, has come a long way.
I now have two: one is fire-engine red, the other blue. When out and about, I count on my rollator to visually alert others not to bump into me. It’s also a safety barrier, automatically creating a healthy space between me and another, which is so important during this current world health crisis.
I can’t imagine my life without one.
Do you use a rollator, or have you just begun using one? Share your tips in the comments below, try a few of mine, or join the discussion on the ALS News Today Forums.
Together, we can support each other as we learn to live well with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.