Unlike walking, doing those things in a power chair or wheelchair can be very stressful and it certainly is very tiring. You cannot quickly sidestep when the pedestrian in front of you suddenly stops in his/her tracks to look at a shop window. A wheel chair or power chair is a heavy piece of equipment and can cause immense damage so you have to be constantly aware of small children making a dash in the opposite direction from mum or dad or small dogs dragging their heels at the end of a long leash. Groups of chance met long time no see friends standing in the middle of a pavement is something you just walk around when you are on foot. In a wheelchair or power-chair it requires a tad more active planning.
I am mobility impaired and rely on a power chair to take part in normal everyday activities such as visiting friends, going shopping or taking the grandchildren to the park. I do not feel that being disabled necessarily makes me worthy of more or less consideration than any other individual going about their daily business. Essentially I view my impairment as part of who I am; just like the colour of my eyes and hair, my height, weight and the fact that my voice couldn’t carry a tune out of a burning building even if you put it in a bucket.
I am not too proud to ask for help, if and when I need it and though it does grate when total strangers suddenly offer their help, I accept that it is done from a caring impulse and thank them kindly. I have noticed that since I have been reliant on the chair for getting about that I tend to get called luv, darling and sweetheart rather more often than before; much in the way we tend to talk to children or doddering old fools really. I suppose I notice it more as I haven’t always been mobility impaired. But again, I realise that it is done with the best of intentions and I accept it is as such.
All these things and others I haven’t mentioned are part and parcel of taking an active part in community life. I accept that they will cost me somewhat more effort than the average participant because of my personal circumstances. I don’t mind, in fact I am delighted when small children stare at me in my chair. I am more than happy to smile at them, wave and even stop and talk to them about the chair and why I am in it. I don’t mind the funny one-liners, “give’s a lift luv”, “it’s alright for some” “room for a littl’n?”. Over time I have garnered a list of one-liners I can give in response.I was rather taken aback when some lout decided to just cut in and walked right in front of my forward proceeding wheelchair. Not so much at the fact that I had to brake rather quickly ... you get used to that in a wheelchair ... but more at the level of abuse he decided to hurl at me, despite the fact that both the wheelchair and I had come to a stop at least three feet from him. Oh, and in case you are reading this … No, I don’t know who my father is but I wasn’t born a puppy so a bastard I may be but a bitch I am not: and for your information, there are certain adult activities I most certainly would not engage in on a public thoroughfare.