I know, long title but stay with it! Firstly, a little explanation: this past week, i’ve had to use my walking stick because my pelvis had been really bad. Whenever the weather is humid AND wet like it has been recently, my whole body goes into a flare. My left leg has been really painful, as well as having intermittent numbness with pins and needles. As a result, tend to catch my toes on things like the stairs and end up falling over. My left leg can also suddenly give out, so my stick just helps me to stay upright, as well as giving me something to lean on. Essentially, it acts as my left leg when my actual leg can’t quite function as a limb.
Let me begin by stating that my walking stick is an extension of me. It’s essentially my leg, and i cannot stress this enough: DON’T FUCKING TOUCH MY MOBILITY AID WITHOUT MY CONSENT. It really shouldn’t have to be said, but alas…… If you touch my stick without my consent, you’re touching me without my consent. Yes, my stick may look cool and you may want to check it out but taking it and using it, but unless i explicitly sa that i allow you to, DON’T TOUCH. Would you walk up to someone in a wheelchair and tip them out of it so you could try it? No, you wouldn’t so leave my walking stick the fuck alone. Stop touching disabled people’s shit without asking. Its douchebag behaviour and i won’t hesitate to beat you with my stick.
I just needed to get that off my chest.
What having to use my stick does reinforce is that society as a whole really doesn’t like disabled people. Now, i don’t need my stick all the time and i continue to be grateful for that, but even when i don’t need it, i still see just how little society cares about people who need to use mobility aids on the daily. Its frankly continues to disgust me on a daily basis just how much shit we spoonies have to put up with. And its the things that Ableds take for granted every single day. For example, my office building isn’t even remotely accessible. I work for one of the country’s biggest healthcare companies, but the head office is essentially a big fuck you to anyone with a disability. There’s a vague attempt at being access friendly in the form of a ramp at the main entrance but a) you have to get up a curb first to get to it and b) it’s not even wide enough for a wheelchair anyway. There is only one disabled bay for a site with 200(ish) people, and its not even remotely access friendly. It’s also currently being occupied by a pregnant person. Look, i totally understand that some pregnancies are truly awful but being pregnant really isn’t the same as being disabled. And when I asked for the space for a few days, i was told it was already occupied, and all of the visitors spaces were for visitors. So i had to walk the 300 yards from the main carpark, get through a turnstyle and negotiate not one but 3 curbs to get to the front door. And then there are the 4 doors between me and my desk that aren’t wheelchair friendly, and the 2 flights of stairs to get up. There is a lift, but it’s been out of order for 5 years and it’s a goods lift so i wouldn’t be allowed to use it anyway. In my team, there’s a colleague with a really rare and complicated condition, and it’s getting worse. He has to struggle with the stairs twice a day and the company’s solution to that? He can be relocated to the ground floor if need be. Why the fuck should he have to sit downstairs, away from his team, because no-one will pay to get the lift fixed?! And don’t even get me started on what would happen if there was a fire and we had to be evacuated. I’ve also requested a better chair for my desk that will actually help rather than hinder, and it’s even been advised by Occ Health. The response? The cost is very high at £850 so we need to look at cheaper options. I mean…… that’s literally the cheapest specialist chair i could find with the absolute bare minimum that i need to be even vaguely comfortable, wtf?! And the cheaper options are a seat wedge and strap on lumbar support, all of which i’ve tried and just simply don’t help. All of it, every damn point i just listed, is discrimination which in itself is illegal.
Great look for one of the country’s leading healthcare companies, amirite?
And it’s not just the accessibility, it’s people’s attitudes too. To be fair, a lot of people were really nice and sympathetic, but most just don’t give a fuck. Like the 2 colleagues who sat and watched me struggle to get the kitchen door open when i went to make a cup of tea. Legit just stood there and watched. Thanks for that guys, appreciate it. There’s the touching and taking of my stick because ‘it looks cool’, the not bothering to hold a door open for 2 seconds longer because i can’t walk fast enough for you to wait.
But most of all, the thing that really imagines my dragons, is that it took me being forced to use my stick for Ableds to FINALLY believe that i have (several) chronic conditions. They’re all invisible illnesses so unless i have to use my stick, i’m usually met with suspicion or complete disbelief that there’s anything wrong at all. I should’t have to use my stick to be believed but sadly, that’s very much the case. And now i’ve seen my Chiropractor and had my pelvis realigned back to where it should be, i don’t need the stick. Which means that it’ll go back to how it was before and being eyes with suspicion. Once again, i’m not disabled enough. And i’m just so goddamn fucking tired of it all.
Oh, and don’t touch my stuff.