Mental disability

Last Saturday was our big 25th wedding anniversary party.  We had a lot of friends and family join us in the function room of a local Pub, and we had fun.  (Thanks to all who joined us and made the day special.)

My partner went in a wheelchair, which I pushed.  At the party, I parked the wheelchair in a dark corner out of the way (with my partner still in it) and then spent the next few hours circulating.  Great fun.

At the end of the party, I pushed the wheelchair home again.  We travelled along the pavement for a couple of hundred yards, then turned around and went back, off the pavement onto the road, and set off homewards again.  We had to do this, as somebody had parked their car right where the pavement was lowered for wheelchair (and pushchair/pram) access.

I don’t blame the car driver too much, as it was a clearly marked parking area.  The question is why the council would lower the pavement where cars can park, and not five feet further along the road, where cars could not park?

Yesterday, I spent the day out with family.  My mother was there, in her battery powered disability scooter.  She drove along the pavement, for several hundred yards, until she reached some scaffolding – which totally blocked the pavement.  With no room to turn around, she had to get off the scooter, and wait while we manhandled the scooter into the road.

Throughout the day, my mother encountered exactly the same as my partner does when out on the the scooter: people will look right at the scooter, see it tootling along merrily, then step in front of it!  If the scooter hits them, it’s your fault

Not once, ever, have I seen somebody step aside for the scooter – the best you can hope for is that they stop while you try to get past.

It’s not stupidity, not really.  It’s ignorance.  It’s lack of thought; lack of education.  People just do not think.

I’d like awareness of this problem to be taught in schools.  I’d like teenagers and pre-teens to be tied into wheelchairs for a day, and forced to leave the house: give them a list of things to collect from the mall, and make sure that some of the items are on different levels, too.

I’d like everybody to be required to pass a test in wheelchair use – and passing that test to be an essential part of obtaining a driving licence or passport; make it a requirement for getting a mobile phone!

Honestly, you only need to spend a few hours in the chair (or even pushing one) to realise the problems the disabled face.

Yes, the disabled have parking benefits.  We have a blue badge, and can legally park on yellow lines, within limits.  The idea of this is to allow the disabled to access places more easily.  Many are jealous of this benefit, and make a point of parking in the disabled bays at supermarkets, hospitals, etc.    And, to be honest, the blue badge is more useful to the carer than the disabled person, most of the time.  (The disabled person will be put in a wheelchair, or scooter – so an extra half-mile walk will not affect them.

Again, try it.  Try parking the car in a ‘normal’ parking bay, taking the wheelchair out of the boot, assembling it, then transferring the disabled person from car to chair – when there is no room behind the car for the chair, and not enough room to open the car door.  THEN try pushing that wheelchair a mile to the shop, where you have to get it up three steps to gain access.  Push it around the shop, down those aisles that are just wide enough for the wheelchair, then come up to the display that blocks off half the aisle, so you have to reverse out again, past all the other shoppers who are giving you filthy looks and tutting over the holdup.

Try lifting a heavy battery powered scooter into the boot of your car, then out again half an hour later when you reach the shops.  Walk around the shops, then lift that scooter into the car again, and drive to the surgery, where you lift it out once more.  After your partners visit to the doctor, lift that ton weight into the car again and drive home – where you take the scooter out again!  Of course, once your partner is safely in the house, you have to carry in all the shopping, put it away, make sure the oxygen supply is on, cook dinner, walk the dog, wash the dishes, and – above all else – keep smiling!

Oh, and don’t forget – every time that wheelchair or scooter reaches a kerb, you have to lift it on or off – because somebody is parked where the kerb has been lowered. 

No, being a carer is not easy.  (Being cared for is even harder, of course.) 

Maybe, just maybe, making people understand what it’s like will make them think a little more.

You think?

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2 Responses to “Mental disability”

  • Comment from Karina

    I’m feeling your pain. Been there done my back in… Even though I don’t think your idea of wheelchair classes for the general public will catch on, it does cross my mind that they should. The same issue arose earlier on Saturday but more annoyingly was that there was no dropped curb at all so my “charge” had to scoot for 50 yards in the wrong direction to find a dropped curb. On another subject great party, thank you both for a lovely time.

  • Comment from Ol' Grumpy

    You’re right, the classes won’t work in that format.
    I have been thinking about it a little more since my post – and I’ve realised that they are biased towards just one group (wheelchair users) and should be broadened to include as many different groups as possible. Groups who have their own particular problems, that are (often) disliked simply for what/who they are.
    With that in mind, my new proposal is as follows:

    To complete the course, canditates must spend a week as a half-coloured/half-jewish redhead, wearing a blindfold and earmuffs while being pushed from door to door in a wheelchair attempting to spread the word of their god.

    (Now I’m wondering just how many people I’ve offended…)

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