Should I consider a wheelchair?

Hello there, I am brand new to the forum. I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis and have been suffering with it for more than a decade. I went on disability in 2015. At the age of 54, I have a desire to complete my college degree in graphic artist and English and have enrolled at Cleveland State University for the fall. I already have an associate's degree. 

Yesterday I needed to perform an errand which required me to go to a medical facility about four blocks from my house to drop off some papers for my son's doctor. So I got my cane and started to walk towards the bus stop which would take me down the street. Well this little trip turned into a personal nightmare! I got to the stop and by time I got there and returned home I was in much pain it was almost unbearable! I started to wonder how I was going to cope when it came time for school? 

My biological mom (I was adopted, found her in 2003), also had the same health problems that I currently am dealing with and she was in a wheelchair the entire time that I knew her (she died in 2013). I have always tried to avoid using one, but now I am beginning to think that I might need to reconsider that. Yesterday was not the first time I have had that kind of experience and I have had issues of loosing my balance, once I even collapsed and fell hard, breaking my wife's sewing kit and knocking over my computer monitor from my desk!

I guess what i am wondering is how do a person know if it is time to get a wheelchair? Will Medicaid/Medicare pay for it? I can walk a some here in the house but when I leave the house is when I have problems. I would like to hear from others who may have been in my position before and what are your thoughts on this. 




  • challengercchallenger Posts: 1,171
    edited 07/18/2019 - 4:08 PM


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    Please don't just give up and settle if there is something that can be done.
  • rickkingrrickking Posts: 14
    edited 07/31/2019 - 2:48 PM

    I have an appointment on the 11th with my spine specialist, and I plan to talk with him about this. Challenger, I hear what you are saying and after the injections failed to work back in December, we began exploring the possibility of surgery. Because of a unique deformity inside my spinal column,  I do not know what could be done and I am not sure he knows either. It is hard for me to describe, but I guess if you were to look at my column from the top down, instead of it being roughly round in shape it looks more like a water drop. narrow on one side (the left) and round on the other especially in the L 3, 4, 5 and  S 1 region. This is on top of the bulging discs.

    I know atrophy is a concern. While I do not know how much atrophy has already taken place over the years, I do know that I sit all the time as it is (beginning in 2015 or so) . I do my physical therapy exercises as I can, though some of it has started to become difficult because of pain. 

    If I do get a chair, I see myself using it mostly at school, and when I go out to do errands. Around the house, I will keep walking from room to room and outside in the yard. It is only when I leave the house and go out for a few hours or so that I would use the chair.

    Thanks for your replies guys.

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  • rickkingrrickking Posts: 14
    edited 07/31/2019 - 2:48 PM

    I have already had a shoulder replacement and will probably have one or both knees replaced within a few years, all due to OA. I take all my meds as prescribed and do my physical therapy regularly as I can. But if the pain comes between me and and getting my degree, I will use the chair. I put my college ambitions aside when my real parents (the one's who adopted me when I was a month old) were ill and after they passed in the late 1980, life got in the way. I won't let that happen again. I need to make money, and with me not being able to do a whole lot, I must rely on what I know I can do even if I am disabled. And I can't seem to find any real clients to work for until I have that little paper saying that I have a BA degree. (A little background- I am a freelance graphic artist, and a writer of a science fiction novel. My major will be Graphic design and English in the fall. I already have an Associate's degree in graphic art and illustration.)

    Challenger- I will consider all options carefully and in consort with my doctor and if I feel the need, I will also get a second or third opinion. As you can tell, my main goal is to get my degree. Everything is all set with my first semester's classes and the financial aide in place. I even have the second semester classes all in place as well!

    I am also a musician.  

  • Rick

      Good luck on the 11th I hope you get some answers.

      I tend to agree with everyone else about the fear of muscle loss. But with that being said we are also talking about your safety .Have you looked into one of those new standup type walkers ? I just saw a commercial on them the other night. Its keep you standing tall verses a standard walker were your more hunched over and it also has a seat for you to beable to rest for awhile. That too maybe something you might want to look into and it suppose to be very light weight and folds easy.

  • I am not sure of why my last post is in that kind of font!

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  • you must've pressed the B button for bold! Rick I use special wheeltrans that every large city has. You need to do a google search or call 211 or 311 for city services to find out and get an application your Dr. fills out for free and you do your part. I use it for bad days. for recent shoulder surgery because I fell. I have DDD as well and every lumbar sacral disc is herniated which cause facet joint hypertrophy and pinching the nerves. I have had success with radiofrequency ablation for l-s spine by a great Pain Management Dr in a hospital clinic.

    I was thinking I might get a scooter for short trips but check with your medicare and some health equipment stores help fill out your papers for approval to Medicare. I'm in Canada so don't know all that's covered in the USA for you but check with your local bus wheeltransit. pick you up at your door at the time for appointments. take care. Charry

  • Here is what the Dr told me after seeing the x-rays that I had this morning:

    FVX 5229 - XR LUMBAR 2V AP/LAT / ACCESSION # 117706996

    PROCEDURE REASON: multiple diagnoses

    * * * * Physician Interpretation * * * *


    CLINICAL INDICATION: Chronic left-sided low back pain, with sciatica 
    presence unspecified Chronic left-sided low back pain, with sciatica 
    presence unspecified

    COMPARISON: 01/14/2017


    Progression of mild dextroscoliosis centered at the L3-4 level. Disc 
    space narrowing at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1, also progressed. Vertebral body 
    height and alignment is maintained. No spondylolisthesis. Bilateral 
    facet hypertrophy L4-5 and L5-S1.

  • Sorry, but there was a emergency involving my youngest son so i am distracted.

    The doctor wants to do some more PT and another series of MRI's. He may consider a wheelchair by the time school begins, but he wants to try these other options 1st. He also want to try a different set of injections than the ones I had six months ago. Turns out that my regular spine specialist is considered to be a top specialist in the field while the doctor that gave me the injections back in December was sort of a generic pain management doctor.  I only switched because of the move across town last year. Doctor Generic was closer to my new location. I learned that lesson. My spine doctor had taken care of me since 2015. The big surprise was the appearance of a pronounced curve in the lumbar region that wasn't there when I had the last pictures taken two years ago. He showed me the side by side comparison. So if anyone can tell me more about what the x ray is showing and can tell me more about this condition, i would love to hear your story.

  • rickkingrrickking Posts: 14
    edited 07/31/2019 - 2:49 PM

    that is a great little program! I have sold many copies of it during my time at Lentine's Music. I had not heard much about it lately and I am surprised that it is still available. Thanks for the kind words about my website! 

  • DiLauro, I had copied the name of whom I was responding to and couldn't change the font back to the default. Must have been sleepy or something... 

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