A bit of an odd title I know but if you have read some of my latest posts about my back & leg pain and my recent diagnosis of Scoliosis & degenerative spinal disease then it probably makes a little sense to you. I’ve got to admit the thought of my ever needing a wheelchair has never even entered my head. I mean it wouldn’t would it? It’s not something any of us would think about on a day to day basis.
Even with the amount of pain I’ve been in I never thought about it. Or after my emergency spinal surgery in 2015 because I lost the feeling in my left leg, I never thought about it.
But recently I’ve had to.
I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I am really struggling to walk. I’m struggling to move about the house. I’m struggling to move about outside of the house. I’m struggling with losing my independence.
We had planned to go away for Easter weekend with the kids & my In-Laws and I knew I had a choice to make. I had to hire a wheelchair for the weekend so I could go out each day with my family or I had to stay in the caravan alone whilst they all went out without me.
And I’ve got to say, I hated being in the wheelchair.
I didn’t hate the wheelchair, or the fact that I needed to use one. I just honestly never realised how inaccessible so many places are until I was sat outside in the cold, on my own, because we couldn’t get the wheelchair up even just a few steps.
And I hated having to put with the strange looks from people.
It was almost like they were trying to figure out why I was there, looking me up & down, staring back over there shoulders, confused . Was I collecting for charity? Had my carers left me? Why was I just sat there outside the shop…?
We were staying in Wales, not too far from Conwy & Llandudno, two places we have been so many times before with the boys and have loved, so we decided to spend a day in each town. I couldn’t wait to take Archie around the castle in Conwy like we did with his big brother when he was little, but I couldn’t.
The staff told us that there was fifteen steps from the main entrance to enter the grounds, then uneven ground to walk up to the castle so no, I wouldn’t be able to go in whilst in the wheelchair. So instead of having a fun day out my the hubby & our boys my teenage son had to push me around the streets instead. A fun day out for a 16 year old boy eh?
The streets were horrendous to get round
In fairness the town is old and have many cobbled/flint lined streets which made pushing the wheelchair hard but what made things worse was the fact that Brandon wanted to grab something to eat, but we struggled to find a cafe we could get into. In the end we had to give up & Brandon had to help part lift me whilst I struggled with a crutch and make our way to a table right by the door.
I was lucky in the fact that I was able to bear my weight for a short time to be able to take a few steps to get to the table whilst Brandon folded the wheelchair & pulled it through the door & put it in the corner. If I had to stay in the wheelchair then there’s no way we would have fit into the cafe, we would of had to put up with sitting outside in the cold to eat some food off our knees. Which I’m guessing so many people have to.
It was a similar time in Llandudno. Thankfully the streets were a lot wider as it’s a bigger town but again, trying to access shops in the streets were pretty much a no go. Most shops had steps or small doors so we couldn’t do our usual browsing in the quirky shops which was a shame as I normally love it. There were a couple of shops that the hubby & teenager wanted to go in as they both wanted hats as it was freezing, I just had to be parked outside in the cold putting up with the puzzled looks from people.
I really was shocked at just how bad it is for wheelchair bound people, constantly reliant on how accessible a place is. Going somewhere & realising that no where caters for you. That whilst everyone else goes on, you have to sit & watch from the sidelines. That you have to make sacrifices when it comes to your family & can’t join in. Then I can’t even begin to think about what it’s like to need a toilet such as a Changing Places toilet if you can’t weight bear.
I would have loved this post to be inspiring, to say that my experience of using a wheelchair was a positive one but unfortunately on this holiday it really wasn’t.
I know I’ll be paying much more attention & be much more grateful to places that do cater to wheelchair users.
Have you had any experiences in regards to using a wheelchair, positive or negative, I’d love to hear your thoughts as I’ve been so naive to the needs of wheelchair users until I was on.