I’ll start by saying that I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user, which means that on given days I will walk inside, without supports and occasionally venture outside for short distances using crutches. However, if I want to do anything from grocery shopping, to taking some time outdoors, I use the wheelchair. It’s a neat little thing that isn’t too ostentatious and thankfully was what I could afford when using my savings in my second year of uni to purchase. The fact that I can get out of the chair definitely lessens the impact that things have on me, but does not remove them. I’m feeling annoyed right now. Let me explain why.
They’ve started roadworks outside where I live. Doesn’t bother me hugely as the sound doesn’t travel and they’re done pretty early in the day. What does bother me is the way that things have been set up. Currently, out of all of the ways to leave my cul de sac and enter town, there is one route with dropped kerbs leading straight into where I want to be – Tesco Metro, post office, doctors, pharmacy – you get the picture.
Of all the ways they could have arranged this particular roadwork, they have not considered the dropped kerb. I’m sure if I was to complain, I would be told to take another route. The second route does exist. It involves using my wheelchair in the middle of the road, going around a roundabout that has no pavement, heading up and then down a steep slope, taking a detour around a body of water and crossing a road blindly because I can’t see over hedges. If you look on a map, the distance is only 2 minutes and arguably nicer the second way around because of the lovely water. If you do the journey yourself, you find it terrifying to go in the road, stressful to locate where the new dropped kerbs are, literally battery draining because of the difference in slopes, waiting times, and mentally draining because I admit I am scared. I’m scared taking new routes. Im scared about going on the road the wrong way around a roundabout to get to the next dropped kerb. I’m scared feeling boxed in when the place where I live doesn’t accommodate me.
I’m currently sat on the side of a building waiting for Nia to grab some groceries and my medications because I’ve nearly run out of battery. Strangers keep walking past and staring. Maybe they haven’t seen a fabulous redhead in a neon pink coat before. Maybe they’re not sure whether I’m a Transformer and am preparing to take over the city. Maybe they’re wondering how the hell I even got out here in the first place.
What should be an easy journey, a simple task, has set me on edge, brought all my anxieties and depressions about my disability to the surface, and leaves me wondering if the world will ever exist with disabled people being able to enjoy normality like the rest of the world. If you have a business or even some sort of gravitas when it comes to arranging doors, routes, travel etc, please keep in mind that not everyone moves or thinks like you. Some people can’t just hop up a step or cross the road anywhere.
I am simultaneously invisible and hyper visible. I am seen and not deemed worthy of being seen. I could cry. I’m done for today.
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