Being dependent on the use of a wheelchair is definitely not easy. Not only do you encounter many physical hurdles linked with accessibility, but it can also be mentally challenging at times too. It certainly isn’t our fault that we need to use a wheelchair to get around, yet why do we continually have to overcome so many barriers?! Although I’m sure most of you can agree, it is these barriers which motivate us to try and overcome them! When meeting someone with a disability or a fellow wheelchair user, I am always amazed by their determination to not let their disability define them or hold them back. But I know first-hand that it can take some time to see things from a different perspective. Even the strongest of people have days where they struggle! That is why I have written a post about some of the positive aspects of being in a wheelchair, rather than the negative! They may be small in comparison to some of the big battles we have to overcome, but you can always find a tiny slice of positivity if you really think about it! Or if you are new to the world of wheelchairs, you might even pick up a few handy tips!
I definitely think one of the most valuable lessons I have learnt since becoming a wheelchair user, is to have the patience of a saint! You would think that because we get around on wheels, life would move at a faster pace. Yet our lives are actually a lot slower, due to our disability or physical limitations making it a lot harder to complete even the simplest of tasks. We may also have to ask someone else to do something for us, meaning we are not able to complete the task at hand in the time frame or order we may necessarily have picked. This is something I found particularly difficult when I first became unwell, because I struggled with not being in control of my own life! Wheelchair users also spend a lot of time waiting for things, such as an elevator; in a hospital waiting room; or for someone to come out the only disabled toilet. So even though all of these examples can be very stressful at times, try to remember that you are developing a very valuable life skill!
Next up is the fact we get carers exemption. Disabled people that require a PA or carer to attend the event with them, are usually entitled to some sort of discount. I have been to events that have charged me the standard ticket price, but have let my carer attend for free. Or on the other hand, charged us both a third of the standard ticket price. Once again, this was something that I took a while for me to discover and accept. I often felt bad for the able-bodied person next to me, who had paid two times my ticket price. But, I have to remind myself that in order to get this discount, I have to be in a position where I could not attend the event without my carer. Not only do I depend on them to physically get me to and from the venue, but they are there to keep me safe. On more than one occasion, my carer has spent half of the event prepping and administering my medications, relocating my joints or getting me a drink. Something that the person next to me probably doesn’t need help with. So why shouldn’t we benefit from a discount or 2 for 1 offer!
Another experience in the UK that is known for offering discounted tickets to disabled people, is the cinema. Guests that require a carer to accompany them to any cinema in the UK, is eligible to apply for a CEA card. This card then allows free admission to the person accompanying you to cinema. The online application process is super quick and very easy, plus it only costs £6 for a whole year! What a bargain! As much as I love going to a concert or to a theme park, those experiences require a lot of spoons. Plus, if my body decides to throw a curveball (something it does on a regular basis), we often have to cancel our plans at last minute and loose our money. All of which, can be very frustrating and upsetting if you were supposed to be going to a one-off event. However, the cinema is something that is always there to enjoy for a lot less money too! So, I would definitely recommend applying for a CEA card if you don’t already have one, because it can be great fun to venture out to see a good movie!
Now this last section is about queue jumping. A few examples I have experienced are not having to wait in the 2-hour queue for passport control, after landing in America. Skipping the lines for rides and Disneyland. Or being classed as a priority guest for tourist attractions such as the Shard in London, and the Empire State in New York. Don’t get me wrong, if I could trade places with someone in the standard queue, I absolutely would if it meant I didn’t have to live with such a complex disability. But sadly, that isn’t possible! Plus, wheelchair users often have very few spoons to spare, so it would be impossible for us to enjoy these things without the benefit of jumping the queue. If I had to queue for long periods every time I wanted to go on a ride in Disneyland, I wouldn’t get anything done! Same rule applied when I was visiting New York. My day is worked around a strict timetable of medications, treatments and rest, meaning I don’t last very long before I need to stop and recharge. But sometimes even that short period of time can be disrupted, if I get a spontaneous dislocation or allergic reaction. Causing all plans to immediately be put on hold, and sometimes then terminated for the day. Therefore, without this perk I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy half of the things I have experienced on my travels.
Sadly, I have heard many able-bodied people complain about the fact they are jealous they can’t skip the queue too. Something that really took me by surprise when I first overheard the lady behind me in a queue for a Disneyland attraction. Luckily my mum quickly turned around to ask the lady if she wanted to swap places, and experience life with my Disability? It’s safe to say the lady didn’t say anything in return! These encounters aren’t easy, but they have allowed me to grow a thick skin, and become very good at speaking up! So, I guess that counts as another positive, which has come out of a negative situation!
Learning to find the positive in any situation has got me through some really tough times, which in turn has taught me to appreciate the small things in life. Although I know it can be hard to have a positive outlook, when you are constantly suffering. But maybe this post will help you to look at some tricky situations from a different perspective!