Exploring the Outdoors: MS gets in my way

Multiple Sclerosis significantly impacts my mobility. I am unable to walk long distances and because of this I can’t always go everywhere other people can. For example, this morning my husband went for a hike. Before Multiple Sclerosis started to affect my ability to walk I loved doing things like hiking and riding my bike. But since I can’t walk long distances anymore, I have to use a mobility scooter to get around sometimes. Most places I can get by on my scooter, but sometimes I get left behind. I won’t pretend I know fully how to cope with this and I won’t pretend that it doesn’t entirely suck. For me, it is by far one of the most frustrating and painful things about having MS.

While there are accessible paths in urban and suburban environments and in smaller numbers in places like national parks, there are just some places that are not going to be accessible. Exploring nature, to be fully emerged in nature, can be difficult to achieve for someone like me. I’m not asking that the world change suddenly to accommodate me, but I would like to see a greater effort to make spaces in our public lands accessible for people with disabilities. Having Multiple Sclerosis has forced me to modify how I get around, but my interest and love of the outdoors hasn’t changed. I want to continue to experience the outdoors and the natural wonders around me. So I’ll continue to seek out the accessible spaces and ride across bumpy trails so I can go along too. But there are plenty of spaces I just can’t access like the hiking trails in the nearby national forest where my husband is today.

The good news is that there are other people out there thinking the same things I am. There are other people who also want to be able to enjoy nature, bask in the beauty of our planet, and not let their disability stop them from doing it. Better yet, there are people who want to help us do it. A friend of mine has been a part of a project that has used adaptive equipment to help people with disabilities access places that would normally be impossible to reach. Here’s a video of a trip they took to the Grand Canyon. Today I sent him a message to see if he wants to help me do some hiking. I’m not looking to tackle the Grand Canyon. I doubt I’d ever want to do a trip that big. Right now, I’d just like to go on an afternoon hike with my husband and some friends.

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