Image of Merlisha with her family outside in their neighborhood.

Life Before and After iLevel®

This month has been joyous, contemplative, and somewhat cathartic. I celebrated my daughter’s graduation and her promotion to high school. It was a joyful occasion watching her transition from being my little girl to becoming a bright and beautiful young woman. My oldest flew in to join in the celebration. The time is coming near when my husband and I will soon have our home to ourselves! Witnessing your children achieve milestones fills every parent with joy, hope, and optimism for the future of the family unit.

My oldest son is currently working and attending college on the east coast. The distance breaks my heart. Once he arrived and I observed him interacting with his younger siblings, a contemplative mood took over me and I started pondering about how his life differed from his siblings’. Most of my oldest son’s memories growing up involve a mother who was ambulatory and actively present during every significant moment of his life. My 14-year-old remembers about half of her life with a mom who could walk and about half with me in a wheelchair. The baby has mostly known Mom in a wheelchair.

This led me to ask several questions. Did my oldest have a better overall experience because I was able to walk when he was growing up, unlike his younger siblings? Does my oldest perceive me as strong and capable as I once was? I also wonder how my baby girl sees me, having experienced both the before and after of my life change. Does my youngest view Mom as someone he has to assist instead of someone who can and will help him?

During the week that my oldest son was here, we spent a lot of quality time together. I took some time off, and we went shopping, out to brunch, and even caught a movie in the theater! This brought back memories of when I hosted sleepovers for his friends and took them to laser tag. The two younger kids and I have had numerous playdates, visited arcades, bounce parks, and attended school carnivals.

Almost all of the events for the younger two kids were done while I was using my Edge 3 with iLevel. This chair has restored a sense of stability and reliability that I enjoyed when I could rely solely on my legs for transportation. My Edge 3 is durable and compact enough to navigate through narrow and wide spaces. The catharsis became apparent in my mind when I realized that despite experiencing a major life change, I have never ceased to be a super mom whether walking or riding.

Author: Merlisha Henderson