Friday, 18 July 2014

Wheelchair Madness


I've been looking after Harry for the last 6 weeks or so and before that was visiting him daily in hospital for nearly a month.
After he came home, I thought we'd got into a fairly good routine which started early in the morning and finished with me rolling into bed by 10.30 which by my usual standards seems very early.
However, I've been very tired and seem very ready for sleep by then.

Everything was ticking along in a fairly smooth way until I borrowed a wheelchair.
As Harry was getting fed up with being trapped indoors, I thought it would be good for him to be able to go to church again or even go for short walks.
Trouble is, Bristol is very hilly and there is no area that doesn't face a moderate to steep hill to get to it.

I thought I'd sussed out a really level way to get Harry to Church, but hadn't realised just how wheelchair unfriendly the local area is. We can see the church practically from our house and it would normally take less than five minutes to cross the busy road and walk up the flight of steps into the sanctuary. The wheelchair access is round the back and the roads to get there are rather rough.

There are sometimes cars who park half way onto the pavement right next to a lamp post. I'm sure the owners have no idea that they've left no space for a wheelchair to get through and I'm not strong enough to face the drop of the kerb to the road let alone get him back up again onto the pavement. Where some of the pavements have a lovely surface of tarmac, which is excellent for wheelchair users, everything is ruined by a private lane that crosses the pavement leaving very uneven slabs that are really jarring for the carer to push across and the wheelchair user is very shaken up. Not good for bad backs.

The local hairdresser that Harry has always used has a raised metal bar going across the bottom of the door that is also up a giant step.

Needless to say, my sciatica has come back with a vengeance and now I can hardly walk without excruciating pain let alone push Harry anywhere.

I'm ashamed to say that I've never really given wheelchair users much thought in the past. It is only when seeing it from another angle by necessity, that I've realised just how difficult things can be.
Maybe everyone should have to go around in a wheelchair for a month to make them wheelchair aware. This could be part of a youngsters education.
In the mean time I must just plod on and get on with life best I can.


20 comments:

Ayak said...

I guess I always thought that wheelchair access was good in the UK but it seems not. It's a good job you're not in this country where it's nigh on impossible for wheelchair users. What a shame this is proving so difficult, and painful, for you Maggie xxx

Suburbia said...

I'm sorry you are in pain Maggie, that's the last thing you need. Thinking of you both.

Gosia k said...

It's a pity you have had a lot of problem with wheelchair access. It seems to me that GB is comfortable for disabled but definitely not for wheelchairs. But it is necessary for your husband to go for a walk -, how to do it ?? It is a question - to local authorities....

Gosia k said...

It's a pity you have had a lot of problem with wheelchair access. It seems to me that GB is comfortable for disabled but definitely not for wheelchairs. But it is necessary for your husband to go for a walk -, how to do it ?? It is a question - to local authorities....

Celia said...

Our town has many good wheel chair ramps but I see people struggling with pushing others up them anyway. Can you get someone to go with you and help? So lovely for him to get outside.

dianefaith said...

I'm sorry that you don't have more help, Maggie. You could be enjoying being outside, too, if you just had someone else to push that wheelchair!

rosaria williams said...

Oh my, you are reporting first hand what most of us will eventually experience, either as patients or as care-givers. I've seen run-abouts, battery-propelled wheel chairs used everywhere. You might put a wanted ad in the local paper for a used one.

Expat mum said...

It wasn't until I had to push the kids around in prams that I realized how tricky it must be for wheelchair users. Here, although the kerbs run into the road at the points where you're supposed to cross the road, there's always a car parked there (illegally) and it's impossible to get between the cars.
So sorry you're having to deal with this.

Irene said...

I must say that I have no idea what the situation is like here having never had to worry about it, but maybe having to in the near future. It does cause me concern having you write about it like this because it seems to be a common problem that's overlooked. But where are the people who ought to take care that something is done? I certainly feel bad for you and Harry. Is there no one else available who can push the wheelchair for you?

Hilary said...

I'm sorry you're hurting, Maggie. I hope you heal quickly. Why not take what you wrote here and send it to your local newspaper. It might be an eye-opener for everyone and might even result in some changes.

Leilani Lee said...

I did in fact have to go around in a wheelchair for about 2 months when I fractured my pelvis and also found out firsthand just how difficult it can be negotiating what seems like the simplest things. We decided to go to the movie theater and had to pick the venue very carefully. Would I be able to get in the bathroom? Would there be a wheelchair spot in the auditorium? It would be much worse if U.S. had not passed the ADA act. So sorry to hear you are in pain yourself.

Shammickite said...

Hilary has the right idea... write a letter to the paper and also write to your local council representative. Most people have no idea about how difficult it is to get around in a wheelchair, or pushing one, until they actually have to experience it.
Don;t do yourself a damage by pushing the wheelchair.

cheshire wife said...

I think something with a motor is the answer. I am sure that you can hire one if you know where to go and maybe find somewhere that is easier to get to than the church for an outing. I know that it is difficult but you need to think about yourself too.

CWx

Retired English Teacher said...

Oh this makes me sad. I hate to read about your trials with the wheelchair. I know that I never thought of access to places either until I was laid up for a bit and could not climb stairs, open doors, or drive. I do think in the US it is a bit more wheelchair friendly because of strict laws.

Don't be hurting your back. You can't afford to be down and in pain. Do be careful. Thinking of you both.

Retired English Teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Secret Agent Woman said...

I started thinking about wheelchairs when I was having to push my kids around in strollers. I made a point of making sure my office was wheelchair accessible.

Wisewebwoman said...

I had to push a wheelchair dependent friend around Akron Ohio for a whole weekend. I was a marathon runner at the time and in very good shape but I literally sat down and wept one afternoon as I couldn't handle another up curb, down curb manoeuvre. I had had it.

I always paid attention to wheelchairs after that and to the carers also. So very many places are inaccessible. And so many ignorant, selfish bozos park where they shouldn't including in the handicapped parking spots.

Or like you said, across footpaths, etc.

Poor Maggie, I totally get it, so very, very disappointing when you wanted to give Harry some much needed airings.

XO
WWW

Rose said...

Oh my, Maggie, the last thing you need is to be in pain yourself! I agree with the other commenters that if only you could get some help so that Harry could go for walks or to church. The US is becoming more wheelchair accessible, and the laws about parking in handicapped spots are usually enforced pretty well. But then, I haven't had to actually push someone in a wheelchair--it would be good for all authorities, city engineers, etc. to have to do this to see what needs to be improved upon in each town.

Akelamalu said...

Oh how frustrating for you and Harry! I don't think anyone realises the difficulties faced by wheelchair users, you're right, things like this should be taught in schools. xx

Trubes said...

Can you not apply for a motorised wheelchair? I have one on the grounds that my husband wasn't well enough to push me around.
It's great now and I don't worry about himself injuring himself. Surely with your Sciatica you would easily qualify.
I think disabled people get a raw deal in this country!

Best wishes,
Di.