Sunday, 21 October 2012

Things that please!

How sad am I ... No, wait. I am serious about this. I am a real sad case and no mistake. On Saturday morning I opened my front door and there ... right in front of my disbelieving eyes ... finally and at long last after 10 months of waiting ... my very own runway to FREEDOM!!! The long awaited ramped access was there waiting for me to take that first step into the great big wide world without first having to heave a 73kg wheelchair over a 19cm threshold.

I was still in my PJs but didn't let that stop me ... there, at 10:45am on the 20th of October 2012, I trundled my wheelchair from the kitchen, through the front room, squeezed round the corner into the hallway and then ... wait for it, wait for it ... I trundled right out of the front door, down my path and to the pavement! It was GLORIOUS! And then, just because I could ... that and the fact that I was still in my PJs and slippers ;) ... I turned right around and trundled right up the path again, through the waiting front door, down the hall, into the front room and ended up with the chair coming to its final halt just in front of its parking and charging station in the kitchen ...

Later that day, I went out to meet my eldest for lunch and a trundling bimble round the charity shops in George Street, Hove. And when I came home, I just sailed in, with my shopping. I didn't realise how much of a difference it made in the pain levels. The level of pain was manageable and though I was tired, it was a good sort of tired and not the sheer exhaustion and excruciating, shoot me now please type of pain, I used to get every time I had to exit the house before.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Medical vs. Social

One piece of legislation all impaired individuals should get themselves thoroughly acquainted with is the Equalities Act 2010 (EA2010). Aha, you may say, what was different before.

Well, simply this … the Medical Model of Disability (MMD) defines disability by the individuals’ level of physical, sensory or mental functioning and performance … and doesn’t that make us sound like trained monkeys ... against medically determined norms in development. Fail to meet up to these levels and fail long enough and you are disabled. We are long term failures of the various medical intervention procurers, dispensers and providers to fix our shortfalls against their medically determined developmental norms. To be fair, the medical profession does not blame us for failing. However this way of seeing disability does impose a diminished view of us. It focuses entirely on what we cannot do. 

Though the MMD is still the arbiter of who will be considered impaired for the purposes of the EA2010, the act itself actually imposes a very positive view on disability. It does this by addressing disability through the Social Model of Disability (SMD). The SMD starts from the premise that those people who have been defined as disabled according to the MMD have an impairment …
You could look at it like this, the MMD declares us as being deficient whereas the SMD views us as having something extra. According to the SMD disability is imposed on individuals with an impairment by environmental or organisational deficits. See, positive from the start …

Friday, 5 October 2012

The delights of trundling

We take walking about on crowded pavements and in and out of shops as a matter of course. When you think about it, it is quite an achievement that we do not experience more accidental collisions. Think about it for a moment … Churchill Square or London Road the week before kids are due to go back to school; or how about the Lanes on a sunny Saturday lunchtime. Walking on crowded pavements has become so much part of us, it is like second nature and most of us do it without having to think about it at all.

Unlike walking, doing those things in a power chair or wheelchair can be very stressful and it certainly is very tiring. You cannot quickly sidestep when the pedestrian in front of you suddenly stops in his/her tracks to look at a shop window. A wheel chair or power chair is a heavy piece of equipment and can cause immense damage so you have to be constantly aware of small children making a dash in the opposite direction from mum or dad or small dogs dragging their heels at the end of a long leash. Groups of chance met long time no see friends standing in the middle of a pavement is something you just walk around when you are on foot. In a wheelchair or power-chair it requires a tad more active planning.

I am mobility impaired and rely on a power chair to take part in normal everyday activities such as visiting friends, going shopping or taking the grandchildren to the park. I do not feel that being disabled necessarily makes me worthy of more or less consideration than any other individual going about their daily business. Essentially I view my impairment as part of who I am; just like the colour of my eyes and hair, my height, weight and the fact that my voice couldn’t carry a tune out of a burning building even if you put it in a bucket.

I am not too proud to ask for help, if and when I need it and though it does grate when total strangers suddenly offer their help, I accept that it is done from a caring impulse and thank them kindly. I have noticed that since I have been reliant on the chair for getting about that I tend to get called luv, darling and sweetheart rather more often than before; much in the way we tend to talk to children or doddering old fools really. I suppose I notice it more as I haven’t always been mobility impaired. But again, I realise that it is done with the best of intentions and I accept it is as such.
All these things and others I haven’t mentioned are part and parcel of taking an active part in community life. I accept that they will cost me somewhat more effort than the average participant because of my personal circumstances. I don’t mind, in fact I am delighted when small children stare at me in my chair. I am more than happy to smile at them, wave and even stop and talk to them about the chair and why I am in it. I don’t mind the funny one-liners, “give’s a lift luv”, “it’s alright for some” “room for a littl’n?”. Over time I have garnered a list of one-liners I can give in response.
I was rather taken aback when some lout decided to just cut in and walked right in front of my forward proceeding wheelchair. Not so much at the fact that I had to brake rather quickly ... you get used to that in a wheelchair ... but more at the level of abuse he decided to hurl at me, despite the fact that both the wheelchair and I had come to a stop at least three feet from him. Oh, and in case you are reading this … No, I don’t know who my father is but I wasn’t born a puppy so a bastard I may be but a bitch I am not: and for your information, there are certain adult activities I most certainly would not engage in on a public thoroughfare.

Quick intro to the trundler

I am a mother and a grandmother. I embarrass my children by talking to perfectly strange babies on the bus and making them laugh – the babies laugh that is, not my children … and the babies aren’t strange so much but just babies I haven’t been formally introduced to.

Oh and I am a cripple. I don’t walk places; I trundle there in my wheelchair. I have severe Peripheral Vascular Disease in both legs as well as in my right arm. There are some other bits and pieces that do not work as well as they should do but that I reckon is just the wages of life lived in the lane of long term single parenthood on the fringes of a society that values style over substance.
 I'm not sure where this blog is going to take me but I do know that there are some things I feel I need to say. So when I do, this is where they will be.