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You know you're a wheelchair user when....

Last week I was on a short break with my lovely hubby. We know a great hotel that is wheelchair accessible (although a little less accessible than it used to be in a few areas, including the breakfast area).

The adjustable height tables were discarded in their last refurbishment. This makes it hard for me to stay in my wheelchair; if I’m in my main one, I don’t fit under, if I’m in my lightweight foldable one. It’s like sitting a three year old in a low armchair and expecting them to reach up to the table with a knife and fork…impossible and messy! So, I opted to park my lightweight chair and stagger to a table; all in the name of being comfortable and not spilling food.

The problem is, many people still have the strange notion that if you use a wheelchair you can’t walk at all, and if you do – you’re a fake

The resulting responses were hilarious! The staff were superb, offering appropriate help where necessary. The other guests? Well if looks could kill, I’d be well and truly dead (three times over!).

One lady insisted on giving me daggers for every meal we had in there. The problem is, many people still have the strange notion that if you use a wheelchair you can’t walk at all, and if you do – you’re a fake. The truth is, only a small percentage of wheelchair users cannot walk at all.

I will admit to being rather naughty one day and saying loudly as I stood up “It’s a miracle!” My staggering walk made it obvious it wasn’t, but it made some of the people staring laugh and broke the ice with those who had never really spoken to a disabled person before.

I do tend to have a humorous approach to my disability, and have often wanted to produce two postcards ready to give out with every stare and questioning look; one with a list of scenarios called “You know you’re a wheelchair user when..” and one with the answers to the many questions I get asked. So, I thought I’d give you a short and hopefully amusing look at what it’s like to use a wheelchair; just because, you have to laugh...

Here we go…you know you’re a wheelchair user when:

You feel like doing a puppet show at the high counter at the chemists, just so someone will see you’re there.

When paying at the till in the supermarket turns into a circus act and the cashier breaks the card machine trying to get it out of its holder.

When you have to yell “coming through” in a clothes shop, because no one can see you between the hanging rails.

When people gasp if you stand up.

When you can’t go to the loo without everyone in your meeting knowing where you’re going. (Power-chairs announce your departure with various loud beeps).

When you drive over the alarm chord in the loo and set it going – and then can’t pull the chord free because it’s caught in the wheel.

When a phone zombie walks straight into you, even though you’re stationary (And obvious!),  then yells that you “need to learn how to drive that thing”. This is often followed by you resisting the urge to drive over their toes...or even their phone.

The train manager refers to you as “The Wheelchair”

When those used to putting their luggage in the wheelchair space on a train stand and stare for an eternity in the hope you will evaporate under their glare.

When you’re tempted to lurch out of your chair to raid the drinks trolley on the train because assistance is taking an age to arrive and get you off.

Now some of my ‘Answers on a Postcard’. I’ll let you decide what the questions were....

My Wheelchair goes up to 8mph.

No, it doesn’t do wheelies. No it doesn’t have jet pack boosters. No it doesn’t have an ejector seat either. But I do wish it had rocket launchers (Cue naughty thoughts of said people on the receiving end of the rockets).

Yes I have passed a test.

Yes I am good at reversing - despite being a woman.

No, my husband doesn’t want a standing board on the back (He’d get travel sick).

No, I’m not too pretty to be disabled.

No, it won’t get better, ever. Yes really. No it’s not a shame – despite me being pretty (Yes, that one again).

Yes I did eat my greens as a child.

No it’s not a trendy disease, it’s real and it hurts.

No, it’s got nothing to do with aspartame.

No, being in a wheelchair won’t make me fat, and exercising won’t make it better.

No I won’t let you kiss me to make it better (Yes really!) And no you can’t sit on my lap for a free ride.

There have also been a couple of X-rated questions I couldn’t write here – so I’ll just leave you guessing on those (and the answers I give!). Have a nice day, and if a wheelchair user is grumpy with you today – now you know why.

Written by Kay Morgan-Gurr

Chair of Children Matter, Co-founder of the Additional Needs Alliance, part of the Evangelical Alliance Council. Blog: “Pondering Platypus”  kaymorgangurr.com

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