Well it’s been a month of trials and challenges on many fronts, but I finally decided to ditch the boot brace as it became more painful to wear it, than not!
I can’t walk very far or very fast, even with the crutches and it is extremely painful but I know that each day there is some improvement, albeit the swelling is really bad and I still have to sit with the leg elevated most of the time.
This has truly been a great learning experience for me. I have had the rare privilege to spend time living life as a disabled person, albeit temporary, but really understanding first hand the challenges the disabled face on a daily basis.
Ramps…they are great for wheelchairs but for someone on crutches or with walking difficulties, they post another challenge. I stood recently debating a long ramp or four stairs at the Ricoh Arena. After parking my car (I am not eligible for a disabled badge), I then had the long walk from the car park. I was then advised that I needed to go outside and down a large flight of stairs. A few is fine, but I knew these were beyond my capability. They kindly took me down through the kitchen and service lift. So, another set of stairs or a ramp? The ramp was so long it would have taken me ages and I would have been worn out from the journey to the door, which was right in front of me. So I navigated the four steps down to the doorway.
Trains…I have recently taken the train to Birmingham. I opted to travel from a local station as it offers free parking only a few meters from the platform (if you get there early enough). I walked into the waiting area where there are 3 seats. Each of the people occupying these seats continued to listen to their headsets and play with their phones while I stood shifting my weight awkwardly on my crutches. Each of these individuals had no intention of giving up their seat. An overweight female in her early 20’s and two young men of a similar age. What was worse, after hoisting myself into the train carriage, I was met by the same. Even those able bodied people occupying the disabled seats refused to move. Thank you to the lovely lady who seeing my plight, kindly gave up her seat.
Restaurants…I went to the new Miller & Carter Steak House which is very good for access and all on one level. Sadly the doors are so heavy that they are difficult to open at the same time as balancing. After navigating the heavy doors, there are some toilets on the left, again with a heavy door. There was a queue of people waiting for tables. One even acknowledged me but rather than offer to help me with the door, they apologised and said they didn’t want to lose their place in the queue!
Hospitals…On a recent trip to the hospital, I was in a wheelchair. Due to the distance to get from the car park to the x-ray and fracture department, my Dad insisted on purchasing the “family wheelchair”! Mum had a recent heart attack so we visited her in hospital, Dad pushing me or rather holding onto the back of the wheelchair for stability (as he walks with a stick), me in the chair holding onto my crutches, Dad’s stick and a suitcase of personal items for Mum. No-one offered to help during our journey from the car park to the Acute Coronary Care Ward. It took us ages! When we went to my appointment, the receptionist couldn’t see me as the desk was too high. Instead she spoke over my head to my Dad…I didn’t exist. Dad is very deaf, despite wearing hearing aids. I spoke to the Receptionist, she spoke to Dad… who couldn’t hear her. He promptly bent down to me to say “What did she say?”…and so it went on. Fortunately, as a family we always manage to see the funny side of things and ended up laughing at this bizarre round of communication.
Supermarkets…The only way I could navigate this one on my own was to walk with my crutches whilst pushing the trolley with my stomach. If I am only purchasing a few things, I get a basket and slide it round the supermarket with my crutches. A very slow process. I was astounded last week when a young man pushed my trolley out of his way, so that he could push me to one side to get to the tomatoes he wanted to put in his own trolley. Fortunately, a member of staff saw my plight and insisted on helping me, packed my shopping and lifted it into the boot of the car.
Every outing has to be planned to the last detail, building in time to navigate steps, ramps, seating and ensuring that I am not at risk of slipping, tripping or being knocked. I can really understand how some people find it easier just to stay within the boundaries of their own four walls.
However, I am a positive and determined person and I will get through this…it’s just a blip. Now to deal with the weight loss and exercise!