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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. 




  • rickking

    welcome to spine-health

    learn how to use spine-health - take the system tutorial 

    Is there nothing surgically that can be done to help with your condition? If it were me I would talk with 2-3 spine specialist to see if anything could be done before I settled on a wheelchair, there are many of us on this forum that have DDD and osteo that have had surgical procedures and were much better afterwards, I do not know your situation and am not trying to judge you in any way, but please don't just give up and settle if there is something that can be done.

    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • Rickking, This is something you might want to talk to your MD about. He knows your complete health history. Sometimes it can be detrimental as far as muscle atrophy as well as other problems. If he writes you a Rx for one, then it should be covered under Medicaid/ Medicare.......David


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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  • 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.

    DavidG, 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.

  • Keep trying, if this surgeon doesn't know what to do you may need to get a second or even third opinion, don't give up and settle until you know there are no other options

    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,584

    Like the others have said here, I would seek specialists to see what can be done.   Not trying to underplay  your condition, but Degenerative Disc Disease and Osteoarhtitis are conditions that something can be done about.   DDD is such a common spinal disorder, almost every person will show some signs of this by the age of 30.  Most of it can be managed by over the counter NSAIDS and approved exercise.  While OA does not have a cure, when it impacts the joints, there are replacement joint surgeries that can help.

    I've had OA since 2002 and DDD from 1984 along with complete joint replacements and spinal surgeries.  I was heading towards a wheelchair and disability  but refuse to give in.   Through exercise programs, ongoing medical support, etc,  I avoided both (for now at least).

    Dont give up.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • dilauro- 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!

    BTW- if you want to see some of my work, just look up The Rick King Project. Yeah, 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.

  • boo9989- I am not sure if you are referring to the urise product which I just did a search for after reading your post, but I don't know if that would be much of a benefit for me or not. But I will ask the doctor about it tomorrow morning. Thanks.

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

  • 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

    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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