I'm a part time wheelchair user which basically means I'm not completely dependant on my chair, and I mainly only need it for trips outside the house. I don't tend to use my wheelchair much as I'm still mostly housebound, but when I do I am always very grateful for the opportunity to actually be going out as without it it wouldn't be possible. However the more I use it, the more I begin to dread using it. Like the stares, sympathetic looks and patronising comments aren't enough to put a girl off, I was also recently given a few more reasons to add to the list of annoying things about being a chair user.
Before I flew to Madrid last week, I needed to pop into town. I've not been into town in the chair before as the last time I attempted it my pain levels were so high we didn't get very far, but I can't say it was a very pleasant experience.
First stop - the bank. Whilst I appreciate that banks need to take out certain security measures, they hadn't really given much thought to their disabled users. Not only could I barely fit through the designated queueing isle without knocking over the barrier but once I reached the counter I could hardly see the man behind the desk, let alone hear him through the plastic shield, consequently leading to me shouting rather loudly - Awkward 1 Hayley 0. Once the whole building had heard what I went in to do I was told to put my card in the reader and enter my pin. Standard procedure had I been able to reach the bloomin' thing! If I couldn't stand for a few seconds, lets say if I had no use of my legs at all, how would I have got around that one? With a bit of difficulty I imagine. I left the bank with less money in my pocket, and less optimism for this trip to town than I had started with.
Next I wanted to go into a book/craft store. I'd like you to take into account that this shop is part of a large chain in the UK and whilst their premises in my town is fairly small, their attempts at filling the shop with as much stock as possible was clearly the goal. In we wheeled (my Dad was acting as pusher for the day) and I kid you not got about 3 feet in before I literally could not go any further. The isles were full of towers of stuff stacked up so high. Baskets overflowing with tacky bargains. Anyone with a pushchair or even somebody on the larger side would've struggled to squeeze by. The items I was after were at the back of the shop so as we were failing miserably to maneuver past the piles of stock, all the gormless staff members could do was look on in fear that their perfect pyramid of pencil cases was about to come tumbling down. They didn't even ask us if we wanted any assistance and we were the only people in the shop so I thought screw that, if you don't even have the decency to offer a hand I'd rather spend my money elsewhere, and we reversed back a whole 3 feet and went on the the next shop.
So by this point my patience is wearing thin. I'm already in a lot of pain and the two places I had been in hadn't been a huge success. Things could only get better right?...
The last shop I went in was a drugstore. My first impressions were good, there was a ramp at the door, nice wide isles, and then we turned a corner. There in front of me was a great big mountain of toilet rolls stacked up high. 'Great!' I thought. How am I supposed to fit past that? I tilted my head back and looked up at my dad who was grinning a mischievous grin. We both chuckled. He knew what I was thinking and I knew what he was thinking - Cue evil laughing. He wheeled my closer to the toilet roll mountain and just as we approached it my foot rest 'accidently' caught the bottom of the pile and the whole thing came tumbling down. WOOPS! We turned back, left the shop and went straight back to the car and went home empty handed.
I think I will be doing all of my shopping online in future.
How great are my editing skills! & my face has turned into a grumpy cat...
If any of my spoonie readers have any similar experiences I'd love to hear them in a comment below!