THE TROUBLE WITH GEORGE

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Having my old tatty kitchen amazingly transformed into a beautiful, new and modern kitchen with units and a gas hob I can reach has meant I can use it independently of my carers. I’ve got a lovely, new electric oven (I have to get used to the temperatures as I’ve only had gas before). I’ve truly found freedom. At first, the novelty of washing-up at my low-level sink seemed attractive! Now I’m not so sure about that bit, but, nevertheless, I’m determined to not to rely solely on my carers, and I thoroughly enjoy cooking.

The next home-improvement project was my patio with a ramp. The word ‘patio‘ is in italics because it is actually built on the base of my newish forget-me-not blue garden shed – see my earlier post which you can find here … MY FORGET-ME-NOT SHED. The poor unfortunate hut became redundant (which is another story!), and was sold for a small sum to a primary school whose sports shed had been burnt down in a horrible arson attack. By rights, I should now be able to get up my ramp, accessing it through the front door, down the side of the house and through the gate – a bit of a long way round, but functional nevertheless. I’d be able to eat, drink and sunbathe up there if I wanted to whenever the weather is good and I have the time.

There is one big hiccup to this story. GEORGE!! Just when I was savouring the prospect of getting a nice suntan (with sun-factor 50 cream), and entertaining guests out there in the sunshine, George (my electric wheelchair for those of you who aren’t yet acquainted) decided to develop a fault. He sits, stubbornly staring at the ramp and refuses to summon up enough energy to climb it. He’s meant to travel at 8mph (no idea what that is in km), but in fact, he’s probably only going at about a fraction-of-a-mile an hour. No good! I imagine it’s the equivalent of an accelerator in a car going – or rather, not going. All this fantastic progress going forward; first the kitchen and new-found independence; and then the patio; and now? Now – my usual trustworthy lump of metal (sorry, George) frustratingly refuses to get up the ramp and embarrassingly slides backwards. I’m going nowhere fast.

Roll on Monday when the mobility repair company come out, and hopefully, give George the kiss-of-life, no doubt at a sizeable cost to me. Needs must.

A DAY OF MANY ‘FIRSTS’ (AND I WANT ONE OF THESE!)

Yesterday was completely chaotic and a day of many ‘firsts’ for me. My Support Worker is on holiday for two weeks and she usually takes me to all my appointments etc.

When I got up yesterday, I was in a ‘determined’ mood! I felt a could fight a Muhammad Ali in a boxing ring, before his decline, and win!

I had to get to therapy at 11am and decided to go in my new wheelchair as the weather was good and there was no-one else who could help me out so I decided to ‘go for it‘! I allowed an hour to get there but did it in half an hour so I stopped by at a local church where they kindly made me coffee and a biscuit, for which I thanked them, of course. On to therapy which went well and the journey back which was fairly non-eventful.

However, in the afternoon, I had a dentist appointment at 3.20pm so off I zoomed again.  I got to the dentist and back (nightmare journey, potholes, cars parked on pavements, overgrown bushes and got stung by nettles, etc!). It took me 3 hours, there and back! However, getting over the NON-disabled-friendly doorstep and through their door was risky (I nearly took the narrow door off its hinges and hurtled into the waiting room, nearly killing myself and several other patients like skittles!). NOT my driving, I need add but the lack of provision of a ramp to get in and out! This is an ongoing issue and campaign that I am having with the surgery and I don’t intend to give up until they get a ramp of some sort, which is a legal requirement under the Disability Act anyway. Needless to say, I’m not exactly ‘flavour of the month‘ there at the moment!

Add to that time, 15 mins for getting lost and then a much-needed 15 min detour to the sweet shop to get a much-needed large Mars Bar which I eventually got home and ate the lot as a reward for all my effort, lol! (I was a bit worried at times as to whether my wheelchair would have enough ‘umfph‘ in it to do all this cavorting about). But it just about made it but then I had a thought, “I know what I want for my birthday. I want one of these please…..”!

tank wheelchair

DISCRIMINATION, DEGRADATION AND HUMILIATION

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I am sooooo ANGRY!!! ….. Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist with my Support Worker, H, obviously in my wheelchair. I don’t have a fear of dentists anymore…I’ve had so much dental treatment over the years, I’ve just got used to it. Nevertheless, like most people, I don’t find it a pleasurable experience either. But this wasn’t about an unpleasant experience in the dentist’s chair; more about being able to even get into the dental practice in the first place!

I’ve been a loyal NHS patient at this particular dental surgery for 34 years. I wasn’t disabled at first, although the very early signs of my condition were just becoming evident but now I am confined to a wheelchair as most of you know. My dental surgery has a step up to the front of it which I am unable to use and there is no disabled access anywhere else to the building. Up till now, it’s always been a couple of dentists and maybe a couple of unfortunate patients in the waiting room who have rather ungainly lifted my wheelchair over the threshold. Now, suddenly, no-one there is allowed to help me in any way because of insurances reasons which I can appreciate as H. isn’t insured to lift or move me either. I have been asking for months if they could get a cheap fold-up ramp to give access to their wheelchair patients but no, nothing so far.

I was sitting by the entrance door, waiting for someone to come up with a solution. In the meantime, I was blocking the entrance door so no-one could get in or out (I felt like an exhibit in a Victorian freak show). Eventually, the head receptionist decided that she would get me in over the step! (Where the insurance regulations went at that moment is anybody’s guess!). I felt totally humiliated being hoisted over the threshold as if I were a piece of luggage. It was most undignified. She pushed me into the waiting room and said, patronizingly, “There we are, I’ve put you by the window in the sunshine!”, as if I were a plant pot!

I eventually got to see my dentist (by which time I was in tears), he was really kind and apologized on behalf of the other staff. I was in and out in ten minutes. Then he said, “You’ll need to come back next week”. Aaaaargh!!

In the meantime….I have contacted the Equality, Advice and Support Services who have assured me that I was correct in my thinking. All public service providers must, by law, provide access for people with disabilities. I now have a template to write the correct letter to my dental surgery advising them of this and I am being backed up by the EASS who are an official body. OK. I know I won’t be very popular with the staff after this but hey, I have the satisfaction of knowing that every disabled person who attends that surgery will have dignified access and will not be discriminated against.