Hello all 🙂 hope you’re having a lovely Sunday.
This brand new post is going to be all about the variety of experiences I’ve had whilst in my wheelchair. Some will be minor trivial things, but when they happen regularly, it soon builds up into one big mass annoyance.
Admittedly needing a wheelchair isn’t something you necessarily feel positive or good about. It’s a part of your life and can easily wear you down. But there are some moments that, for me, have made a huge difference.
1) People asking if you need help
Okay so you don’t really yearn for people to be sticking their noses in your business all the time or making assumptions. But I’ve had a number of experiences of people asking whoever was pushing my wheelchair if they needed a hand; say, up a hill or negotiating a dodgy pavement. Or if who I’m with isn’t there at that moment, I’ve also had people ask if I need help getting something off a shelf etc. It’s such a small part of their day but those gestures really do stick with me.
2) Freedom to go out
If I didn’t have my wheelchair when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave my home. It’s as simple as that. To be so utterly reliant on something such as a wheelchair, and a person to push you around, can be a rather devastating feeling. You don’t want to live with it, but you can’t live without it. However, I always make sure I acknowledge just how much it improved my quality of life. Even a two minute ‘wheel’ down the road gave me some much needed fresh air and a slice of freedom. Definitely not something to take for granted.
I realise I didn’t actually mention many positives. Those were also both pretty generic ones. That’s just how it is I guess.
1) One memorable occurrence
I can’t remember exactly how long ago this happened, but it was during a period of still being predominantly wheelchair bound but being able to walk shorter distances if needed. On this particular day, I was out with my dad. We ventured to a local antique shop, parked in a disabled space right at the front and put my Blue Badge in the window. I’d been there before so I knew for certain that the shop wasn’t remotely wheelchair friendly; it was crammed with allsorts of items, very narrow walkways etc. I’d saved up a bit of energy beforehand in preparation for the little walk. It was a case of I either walked round as much as I could manage or I didn’t go at all. Just as we were walking towards the entrance, a woman came out of an office room and asked us if we’d parked in a disabled bay. Yes, we replied. She didn’t seem impressed and requested that we moved the car as they only have a small number of disabled spaces. At this point both me and my dad were getting pretty damn irritated with her intrusive behaviour. We told her I have Blue Badge and it was in the window if she wished to it. My dad told her I had M.E which means that, on my ‘less worse’ days, I can manage a small amount of walking. This next part makes me so pissed to even think about it now. Upon being told of my health condition, she then looked me up and down; as if my invisible illness was suddenly going to jump out and smack her in the face. If that wasn’t bad enough, her facial expression added to the overall mood. She wasn’t frowning per se; it was more a kind of disbelieving glare. I mean, seriously. Customer service at it’s absolute finest right there. Safe to say we haven’t really been back since.
So I’ve never been a fan of crowds or anywhere with a bustling atmosphere. It’s part of my introverted personality. But once I started using my wheels, it became ridiculous. I was worried that people were staring at me. I was worried that people were judging me. I was also worried of someone not seeing me and falling onto my lap. That’s another thing; busy shopping centres are utter hell. If you’re not accidentally ramming into someone’s ankles, you’re nearly tripped over when people don’t realise you’re even then. Or better yet, your eyes are constantly at ‘bum height’ which, whilst obviously unnerving, is extremely claustrophobic. Some people don’t even move out of the way once they see a wheelchair. They’ve turned, seen that there clearly isn’t enough space for me, but make no effort to simply take a step back. I don’t want special treatment because of the wheelchair but come on. That’s just common decency.
3) Cashier’s not addressing you
Ugh. This. I’ve had it numerous times before. I’ll be in a shop, items I want to purchase in a basket on my lap, heading towards the tills. I place them to be scanned, quite blatant in my actions that I’m the person who’s paying. But no. Some cashiers decide to address who I’m with instead; asking them if I’d like a bag or if I have a loyalty card. I’m right here, you cretin. You clearly saw me put the stuff on your till and that the person I’m with is not necessarily taking any notice. I’m the customer. Surely it’s obvious? Oh but I’m in a wheelchair. That MUST mean I don’t have the ability to communicate or understand the world the around me. Yes I know that some people struggle with how to be around those in a wheelchair. But that doesn’t give anyone the right to point-blank ignore you and make assumptions about your mental capabilities. On some occasions, whoever I was with simply walked off so the cashier had to talk to me. Sometimes it was the only thing that worked.
Essentially, this post was about giving you a brief insight into the world of a wheelchair user. It’s not decadent. It’s not easy. And it’s not something we enjoy. But it’s also not something we want sympathy for. It’s not something we have to let get us down. We are allowed to see the positives and be happy. And, one of the biggest things to take away from this is:
You don’t have to look sick or disabled to use a wheelchair
Love and hugs to everyone.