Does it REALLY Matter to You? It Does to Me!

Just a little thought today: I sort of live in a wheelchair outside of the house. It’s taught me to look at things differently. Today, I asked Lynn to change parking spots, because there were two handicapped parking spots available, but only one was van accessible. I don’t use a van lift, so I asked her to park in the other one, so just in case someone with a van needed it, it was open. Yet, I see people all the time, without the parking stickers or placards zip into handicapped parking spots.

Another thing, since the breathing from the PH has hit, it physically hurts my chest to be around folks who are smoking–so when I go to the doctor, there’s often someone outside taking in a few puffs–that’s fine, if you smoke, but please, consider not doing it so close to the entrance of a building (some states have laws about that)–especially a doctor’s office. Smoke from cigarettes can flare problems for people like me, bad problems, so I have to sit in the car and wait until they move and finish their cigarette. Asthmatics, COPDers, babies, and more are affected by it–please, walk a few more steps to your car to smoke–your inconvenience is less than someone being physically assaulted–I know you would never intend to do that, but that is what it’s like.

Today, at lunch, I could not get my wheelchair into the bathroom, because the restaurant had piled a fan, high chairs, a wet mop sign and some extra dining chairs in the corner in front of the door, which reduced the room for the turn radius for the wheelchair, and the only way I could go to the bathroom was to ask someone to move all those things–I wouldn’t do that, so I actually had to, without oxygen, walk into the bathroom–that was really, really hard for me–for some people in wheelchairs, it would be impossible.

Tonight, we talked about going to Ghengis Grill, one of my favorite quick-eat restaurants, when I’m being bad and not eating all-natural. We didn’t go–for two reasons, 1) I’m feeling just lousy right now, had a major flareup today after the doc appointment (might have been something I ingested at lunch) and 2) Ghengis Grill is not handicapped accessible–oh, they probably meet code–I’m sure they have to–but it is absolutely impossible to get a wheelchair down their aisles in the restaurant to get seated–it’s tough to even walk down them if you’re skinny, the tables are so close together, but wheelchair would be impossible. And the line that you go through to pick your meats and sauces and stuff is a U shape, with half walls and bars to keep people in the line–well, the end of the U where it curves doesn’t have enough turn radius for the manual wheelchair. The electric one can turn it, but the arms of the chair would get caught on the bars. So I can’t go eat there, and I love their bowls.

Two weeks ago, we went to a place where the handicapped parking was far away from the door, because the ramp was next to the spot, and then the wheelchair would be able to be pushed on the sidewalk. Well, one car and one truck with larger front ends had pulled their vehicles up so far into the spot that their front ends hovered over the sidewalk, making it difficult for someone walking normally to pass, but absolutely impossible for someone with a wheelchair to pass. We had to park on the other side of that and they put the wheelchair on the sidewalk for me and I had to walk up the sidewalk (which is tough for someone with PH to climb steps) in order to get to my wheelchair–took me three minutes to get my sats back up to acceptable from that, all so someone else’s car was pulled up. Some people in wheelchairs aren’t able to stand or walk at all–so I’m blessed I was able to do it, even if it was hard for me. But too many problems like that with the PH, and I get absolutely exhausted from struggling to breathe and move without pain and keep my sats up and my day is completely shot–or at the very least, much less pleasurable.

It takes so much effort and energy for me to do anything outside of the house, and that’s when everything goes absolutely perfectly. But when we have issues with parking, cars in the way, doors that are blocked, having to ask people who aren’t always kind about it to move things for us, it makes it where I often don’t even want to bother to try to leave the house. That’s not right–when making it easier on people like me takes so very little from people who don’t HAVE to think about these things.

Don’t assume someone needs help and DO it for them, but there’s nothing wrong with asking someone if you can help. Don’t touch someone’s wheelchair–my wheelchair is like my arm, only touch it if you would touch me if I were standing instead of sitting. Don’t rest your hand on the handles or lean against it. Don’t pat me on the head. Don’t talk to my companions about me when I’m sitting right there; talk to me. I’m a normal person–I’m just sitting down–so talk to me like you would anyone else who was sitting in your living room while you got up to move around. You talk to people while you’re standing and they’re sitting all the time–a wheelchair isn’t any different; it just has big wheels. It’s still just a chair.

These are things that people with disabilities have to live with every day. They are not things I ever thought about until I had to live with a disability. I’m learning now to be more careful and courtesy about where we park, how we hold doors, where we put our chairs and wheelchair not to block others from having the ability to do what they need/want to do, etc.

Would that the rest of the world considered these things too, and not just assumed them. Your three seconds of convenience might well be the 15-minutes of my inconvenience that makes me miss a doctor’s appointment I was still billed for (because I didn’t give 24-hours’ notice) and which it took me THREE MONTHS to get the next available appointment– true story, really happened. Our actions often have consequences we don’t even realize–and the person who made me late through their inconsiderate behavior probably would never have done it on purpose had they known, but they just didn’t think about it.

I guess that’s what I want–for everyone to just think about it.

I sometimes wish I didn’t have to think about it quite so much myself.

Love and stuff,
MIchy

 

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6 comments to Does it REALLY Matter to You? It Does to Me!

  • l.a.freed  says:

    Great article. You pointed out lots of things I never really think about, but lots of things I do think about. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be confronted with the obstacles you meet on a daily basis. Your strength is admirable.

  • Laurie Carlson  says:

    I am also in a wheelchair. I’ve run into the SAME things you have. I don’t even go out anymore unless it’s to the Dr’s office. I’ve even had Dr’s talk to my HUSBAND AND NOT ME as if I wasn’t even there or if I were stupid!
    It IS a struggle! When I was able to ride the bus years ago, I had even more struggles, such as restaurants putting picnic tables outside their doors, and I could NOT get by unless I went out into the parking lot, thus taking my life into my own hands because cars CANNOT SEE US!
    Even in stores, it’s a pain in the rear as no one expects a person to be in a wheelchair. WE have to watch out for people who CAN WALK because they pay NO ATTENTION to what is GOING ON AROUND THEM! Next thing we know is they are falling ON US!
    It’s not worth it to me to even try anymore. Then I have neighbors who wonder why I never go anywhere! Think about it!
    No one can possibly understand unless they have experienced this daily for years. Parking lots ARE atrocities!
    PLEASE people, RESPECT HANDICAPPED PARKING PLACES! THEY ‘DO’ MEAN SOMETHING! They mean a LOT! And, park NORMAL, PLEASE!
    GREAT article!

  • Laurie Carlson  says:

    PS. IF there are any Judges out there reading this, FAMILY COURT JUDGES, just because one of the parents happen to become disabled and in a wheelchair, happens to fall out of that wheelchair and suffers from a head injury, they WILL RECOVER. It takes time. It does NOT MEAN we are LESS THAN A PARENT AND CANNOT PARENT.
    To the Judge who took my COMPLETE CUSTODY AWAY FROM ME, AND DEMANDED I HAVE SUPERVISION WHEN MY CHILDREN CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE TO VISIT ME, EVEN THOUGH MY HUSBAND WAS RIGHT THERE, I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU “NOT”!
    Because my Ex is a JERK, he took me to court after I fell out of my wheelchair, hit my head on the kitchen TILED floor, and was unconscious for close to 7 hours, until my husband got home from work. Yes, I had injuries, and one was a head injury. BUT, it does NOT LAST FOREVER. It took me a COUPLE OF MONTHS to get my bearings back, but that did NOT MEAN I WAS COMPLETELY INCAPABLE OF TAKING CARE OF MY CHILDREN!
    YES, ONE NIGHT AT 10:00PM I FELL ASLEEP. MY SON COULD NOT WAKE ME UP, BUT ‘HE’ WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN BED ASLEEP HIMSELF! Instead, he called his Dad, he came and picked my son up, NEVER CAME IN MY HOUSE TO TELL ME HE WAS TAKING MY SON. I woke up at 2:00AM and could NOT FIND MY SON! MY EX WOULD NOT ANSWER THE PHONE, ETC! Imagine how that feels to a parent! I could ONLY ASSUME that he took him back to his house.
    Later, in court, I got 2 versions of the story, so did the JUDGE! WHO DID THE JUDGE SIDE WITH? MY EX! ALLLLL THESE YEARS!!!!!
    I have been treated as LESS THAN A PERSON, INCAPABLE OF CARING FOR MY OWN TEENAGERS, AND HAD MY EX WITHHOLD ME EVEN SEEING MY CHILDREN! HE WOULD NOT EVEN PHONE ME TO TELL ME OF EVENTS THAT WENT ON IN THEIR LIVES. I WAS SUPPOSED TO KNOW THE WEBSITES OF THE ORGANIZATIONS MY CHILDREN PARTICIPATED IN. MY CHILDREN WERE NOT TAUGHT BY EVEN THEIR GRANDPARENTS TO TELL ME, THEIR MOTHER, OF WHAT THEY WERE INTO AND DOING!
    All because I am ‘less than’ of a person because I have a disability!
    Guess what? WE ARE REAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE REAL LIVES!!! WE BREATHE, EAT AND xxx JUST LIKE YOU! We have feelings, and a heart (even if it IS broken!) We DESERVE to live a FULL LIFE AND NOT LESS THAN BECAUSE WE ARE HANDICAPPED!
    Disabled people have to put up with a LOT! When we are at the LOWEST POINT IN OUR LIVES, THE THINGS OTHERS DO TO US INTENTIONALLY TO HURT US IS INCONCEIVABLY UNFORGIVABLE! I always tell myself there is KARMA. I hope!
    We are HUMAN, JUST LIKE YOU! PLEASE TREAT US AS SUCH!
    AS FOR THE FAMILY COURT SYSTEM, REMEMBER THIS! THANK YOU FOR MY ‘NOT’ HAVING A MOTHER/DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP WITH MY OWN DAUGHTER!
    Thankfully, my son has MORE of a heart than my daughter does. She has taken her father’s side and HAS TREATED ME LESS THAN MANY TIMES. My son has not! He loves me for me. Sometimes he does NOT understand WHY MOM CAN’T DO THINGS, but he gets over it.
    This entire world does handicapped people such INJUSTICE AT TIMES! When injustice is done, it double breaks our hearts because there is NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT! We cannot magically ‘fix’ ourselves!
    HAVE SOME COMPASSION! DOESN’T ANYONE UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT WORD MEANS ANYMORE???????????
    If ONLY you KNEW what you have caused by doing this. If only you KNEW I have NO relationship with my daughter

  • Laurie Carlson  says:

    Thank you, Michelle, for writing this article. It made an impact on me! We ARE thought of as ‘less than’ way to many times! SO glad you wrote this! Yes, I have experienced ALL that you have. It is NOT right! This IS the way to do it, by bringing it to the attention of people!
    I HOPE this impacts ‘1’ person!
    Thanks again!
    Laurie

  • cathy  says:

    Excellent article! If there is one good thing being disabled has given me, it’s compassion. Most people really don’t get it until it happens to them. We are all different. We have different abilities and different ways to compensate, and often you can’t tell by looking if someone has a disability. You can’t look at someone and know he/she has asthma, MS, epilepsy, etc. I do not have a handicap parking tag – it would not help me much, but for others, that closer space is the difference between being able to do things or not. Mostly, people around here are good about not using them unless they have a tag, but they don’t have a problem with harassing people who do use them. “You don’t look handicapped to me!” One time I turned to one such jerk and asked him if Xray vision was his super power, because he seemed to be able to diagnose a woman in a parking lot without the use of any medical tests. Sheesh, we all could have saved a lot of money on those hospital visits if we’d known people like him were out there! Just so people know, there is fine for using those spots if you do not display a tag – $500 here. It is the law, not a suggestion. If you see an offender, snap a pic and call the cops. Enforcement is the only way this abuse will end.

  • Raiscara Avalon  says:

    Oh Michy! *hugs* I always try to be considerate of others when out and about, and it truly amazes me how often other people do things with no consideration for anyone but themselves. Even as a smoker I always tried to keep it away from major entrances and other people. To me it’s disrespectful to try to force my choices on to others. You won’t believe how many times I’ve seen smokers being the ones to help the person on oxygen into their wheelchairs…I can only assume that they’re trying to kill them at that point, since oxygen is kind of flammable. :p Never mind what put them on it to begin with. I’m lucky enough to be able to walk, but my Dad and I (who both have a limp from our backs) are amazed at how many times people will see you coming and get in your way on purpose! Which of course breaks your stride and it takes a bit to get moving again.

    And people wonder why I say that I hate people. 🙂

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