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I am 45 years old, Married to Sean for nearly 20 years and have 3 lovely children Hope is 16, Jack is 12 and Joe is 6.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sitting in a wheelchair=no brain. Right?!

Those of you that have been in this situation will understand the title of this post, those of you who haven't may have been with someone who has or this may be an 'eye opener', which is what a friend/colleague said to me last weekend when we flew from Leeds to Gatwick and back.

I seriously could write a whole blog on my 'interactions' with others whilst in this situation!

Yes I can walk and on good leg days (don't get me wrong I have more of these than bad ones) I can walk a reasonable distance. When I'm flying into an airport which I suspect will be quite big, which means a very long way to walk, I prebook a wheelchair - believe me I learnt the hard way!! I did this when travelling to a conference last weekend. I was VERY glad I did because sure enough it was MILES to walk with lots of slopes etc BUT the minute you sit in that chair many people either:

Are too embarrassed to look at you
Stare at you to try and work out why you're in it
Pat you on the head (yes really :-O )
Speak to you as if you're deaf or having learning difficulties
Totally ignore you
Repeatedly ask you 'what happened to you then?'
Apologise to you (!) when you run over their foot with the chair
I won't go on......

There are some advantages:
You get through check in, security and onto the plane quicker

But the first important job's worth I encountered this time broke off from taking another passenger's boarding card to 'get rid of the wheelchair'. Another continually man handled me and my belongings, kindly pushing my elbows against my sides when going through the mag and bag and trying to pull me out of the chair at the other end.

The thing that winds me up about this is, how hard is it to ASK someone if they need help?!

Why, just because I park my bum in a chair with wheels or use a pair of crutches, am I treated SO differently than if I walk through, even if it is with a limp?

Some may think I'm a snob to join a private health club/gym but I've tried going to the local sports centre again recently. I was a member of a private one for years but felt I couldn't justify the monthly fee as I wasn't using it enough due to work and family commitments. Another reason is because I'm into swimming many of the private ones have postage stamp size pools which make you dizzy from tumble turning every few metres. I have been going with a friend and swimming during the adult swim session at the local pool in the evening as any earlier the stares and pointing from the balcony are a little off pointing every time you take a breath. Sure enough though only on visit 2 I was using my crutches to walk in (they are collapsible ones-not when walking with them I might add!-so you can carry in a bag and a guy at the desk laughed and quizzed me saying 'I'm intrigued as to what sport you're going to do here this evening'. I dutifully ignored him while my friend picked her jaw off the floor and we got changed. There he was again as I approached the pool (this time legless using the crutches) each lane is labelled either slow, medium or fast, you've seen the signs right? He very kindly pointed out 'do you know that's the fast lane?' I thanked him and said I did. Needless to say he never said anything else to me!! Well, to give him his dues, I saw him approaching me again as we got in the car BUT he actually apologised to me. That doesn't happen on many of the occasions believe me....

The thing that really winds me up about these situations is that you cannot get angry, be rude or say anything back, as it evokes the reaction 'well there's no need to be like that' (Hello?!) and the assumption you have a huge great chip on your shoulder cos you're disabled. Lose lose situation.

Oh well rant over! My friend and I decided though on the next visit to the pool we'd do a 'Little Britain' and she would push me in the poolside wheelchair, hoist me in, much to the dismay of those averting their gaze then WHOOSH I'll be off!


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