Thursday, 15 September 2016

Life in a Wheelchair ♿

My time in a wheelchair was brief and even then I struggled. I hated how much I relied on others to help and how much independence I lost. I had an accident in Morocco causing me to sprain one ankle and have a grade 3 ligament tear to the other.

Granted I'm used to being able to work and do my own thing at all time and I had a old fashioned wheelchair, not one that was electric that I could control, so it was a massive change. Having said that, what I experienced in terms of judgement and accessibility really opened my eyes to how people must live.

On holiday there was a show stage down 3 steep flights of stairs. There was absolutely no way I could make it down them so the staff took me a different way. It was a staff only way with steep ramps, underground tunnels and even then, still a small flight of stairs. I didn't feel safe going down the dilapidated staff access tunnels but when they brought me to the stairs I was shocked. They said it was wheelchair accessible and while I could crutch for brief periods of time, I knew many in the world could defintely not be able to get out of their chair.

That was something that really blowed my eye. In this day and age, I don't understand how more places aren't accessible and since my experience I have been on the lookout for places being accessible. While I'm not fully healed from injury, I can now take steps just slowly and painfully, hence I try to avoid them where possible. One of the local Italian restaurant's to me has most of it's seating upstairs and then the toilets are all on the second level. I was desperate so I did go, but my grandma couldn't.

Not only that but the judgement is also eye-opening. While I personally didn't mind being asked what happened, I can see how being asked on a daily basis can get not only annoying but incredibly invasive. Strangers feel they have a right to know your entire life when you are sick and it's just not.

When I saw Faith Martin in a bloggers group, I really wanted to hear her opinion on the topic. She wrote me a quick piece and while I have made a few changes, the majority and essence is her own writing. Her blog is the cleverly titled Rolling Through Life so afterwards, if you want to hear more on her perspective go and read some more interesting posts on the topic. She aims to 'inspire other disabled people and give them a positive platform to express their views and make their voices heard' which I love.

My name is Faith. I'm 15 and I was born around 3 to 4 months premature. I was diagnosed with cerebral of the diplegic form meaning that I have a non-severe brain damage causing my legs not to work how an able bodied person would and this makes me wheelchair bound. 

Living in a wheelchair even in today's society can be hard because lots of buildings don't have disabled access. Even public transport, e.g. buses and trains, can at times be difficult to get on. Not only activity limitations exist but many people can be uneducated about disability therefore it can be awkward at social gatherings and encounters. School can be difficult because a lot of the students don't understand about disability.

However living life in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I don’t have a fulfilled life. I try to get involved in lots of different things however admittedly sometimes the initial fear of meeting new people can make this difficult although I don’t like to let it hold me back. If you asked me, I'd say I'm lucky to be writing this post today as doctors thought I wouldn't live due to my premature birth  and lack of oxygen to my brain. I'm also lucky because I don't have a severe case of cerebral palsy therefore I have few complications. Although I can't walk, I still value my life as you only get one of them and you should make the most of it and do what makes you happy as life is a precious thing and you should never take it for granted however for some that's easier said then done.

I struggle with simple daily tasks such as getting dressed and putting shoes on, but I still like to think I'm a very independent person and being a teenager, of course, means I can be a bit stroppy sometimes and I get annoyed when I can't do certain things but I like to think I'm a nice person. 

Cerebral palsy don't stop me from enjoying myself: I love going to concerts, out with my friends and listening to music or walking my dog. I've never let my condition hold me back as I thinks it's important to embrace it rather than hate it. I've learnt to not be afraid of my cerebral palsy.  I've managed to achieve lots of different things and I would say one of my biggest achievements has been setting up an online campaign to improve disabled access and proving I CAN do things to the people who say that I can't.

I love how positive she is and even though she agrees there is more that can be done in terms of improving the life of those in the disable community, she's not just sitting and complaining. She actively seeking and helping with her campaign.

I hope this post, while a little different of a topic, made you think. Have you experienced any disability or even recieved any other stigma? Once again, if you would like to read more of Faith's writings her blog is Rolling Through Life.