So yesterday I was reading an article about one of the victims of the rollercoaster crash that happened at Alton Towers a couple of months ago. The poor girl has had one of her legs amputated and the article was about how difficult she was finding it to adjust especially as she was watching all her friends getting ready to go off to university which she should be doing as well. My heart went out to the girl as I read more of what she was saying.
I often say when people ask about my condition and being in a wheelchair that it’s almost a little easier for me as I’ve had my condition since I was born. Although it has got progressively worse as I’ve got older, especially so over the last 4/5 years, I’ve always lived with it and I’ve always known that I was only ever going to get worse, not better. I’ve always felt that because I knew I’ve been able to prepare myself mentally and been able to work out how to manage physically. I cannot imagine the impact it would have of making that transition within the space of 24 hours without any prior warning. I think one of the hardest things about having a disability is working out how you can still have your independence.
On Thursday there was (another) tube strike and I shared the following image:
The tube is an excellent example of accessibility issues. The London Underground have done a great job of improving things where they can and things are only getting better. However, as it stands I avoid going on the tube whenever I can. My local train station has steps up to the platform so even from the beginning of my journey I need someone else with me. But even if you put that to one side, you can put all the lifts, ramps, sloping travelators you like into the train station but most of the time my biggest issue is actually getting on and off the train. The step up or over the gap might not seem like much when you jump on but maybe next time imagine trying to get a wheelchair over that without tipping yourself on to the platform in spectacular fashion. More and more tube stations have ramps to help get wheelchair users on and off the train, which I don’t want to knock at all because it’s a good step in the right direction, but even that is chipping away at my independence. I’m relying on someone else to be waiting in the right place at the right time just to help me get on and off a train. Luckily I can stand and walk for very short periods of time so what I tend to do is get out the chair and walk off the train and whoever I have with me will lift the chair down. I can tell you I get some looks when I stand up out of the chair and walk off the train…
So when I do go on the tube (which is rarely…) I always take someone with me or I just don’t feel comfortable at all with everything that I have to battle on one tube journey. Combine that with the way some people treat me on the tube (another blog guys, there’s just too many stories I could tell you…) I now just drive absolutely everywhere. This is mainly because then, the only person I have to rely on is me, myself and I. Which is exactly that way it should be for any 21 year old.
(My face pretty much whenever I go on the tube…)