Summer has drawn to a close, and Mother Nature has begun painting the trees in beautiful fall colors. As fall arrives, the temperatures also begin to change.
Unfortunately, cooler weather tends to be hard on my body, and it takes a while for me to adjust. As temperatures drop, my hands quickly go numb when I’m outside, which makes driving my wheelchair difficult. I add long sleeves and additional layers to keep warm, but the weight of the extra material also restricts my movement. The extra weight can make it feel like I’m carrying grocery bags on my arms all day, and it takes a lot of energy.
Despite the added challenges, I’m determined to continue getting out to enjoy nature before winter arrives.
Recently, my family and I decided to take a trip to a local pumpkin patch. While it wasn’t as warm as the 70-degree weather that I’ve become used to, it was still nice out, and fresh air sounded appealing. I donned my lightest poncho-style coat, and we headed out in search of the perfect seasonal décor.
Once we arrived, my family stayed by my side as I slowly picked my way across the gravel path from the parking lot to the barn. I had to make frequent stops to readjust my grip on the joystick. This was my first time wearing a long-sleeved shirt since the arrival of spring, and it was causing my arm to slide around on my armrest every time I hit a bump.
We eventually made it to our destination and went about carefully making this year’s pumpkin selections. After choosing an adorably small white pumpkin for myself, I parked my chair in a warm spot in the sun while my mom and I watched my brother and stepdad precariously lift one of the largest pumpkins in the patch into a wheelbarrow. My brother had declared that he wanted a huge pumpkin, and he found one that perfectly met his requirement!
After successfully moving the giant pumpkin, we spent some time wandering around the farm taking pictures, watching farm animals, and exploring the barn that had been fitted with ramps for strollers and wheelchair users.
As we went about enjoying our fall excursion, it occurred to me that it really will take some time for me to fully adjust to the changing seasons. I knew this already, but I never fully realize ahead of time just what that will entail. My arms will have to relearn how to use the tiny muscles that haven’t been needed since I put away my sweaters earlier this year. I’ll have to remember how to drive my chair when my hands are cold, and I’ll have to put more effort into staying warm.
I know that I am not as strong as I was last year, and that might also pose some new challenges — especially when paired with the already existing cool weather challenges. Some of those tiny arm muscles are no longer there, and I need more help moving my arms than I used to.
It’s become difficult to reach the table without someone else positioning my arms for me, and my tablet feels heavier than it once did. That’s just the way that SMA works, and I expect these types of things to happen sooner or later.
Although these obstacles might make it more difficult to accomplish some fall fun, I’ll still try my best to keep up with the adventures that await down the gravel paths. When my sliding arm and tired hand demand that I slow down, I know that I can count on my family and friends to stay with me while we enjoy life — and pumpkin patches — at whatever pace my body allows. We’ll tackle these challenges together and enjoy the outdoors for as long as we can!
Note: SMA 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 SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.