The hospital appointment on Thursday went extraordinarily well. It turns out I was the only one that had any reservations about my wheelchair. It made me rethink my own approach to disability. I’m self-conscious about the wheelchair. I’ve gotten comfortable with using it locally where I know it’s accessible, but taking it when visiting an unfamiliar place is still nerve wracking, particularly when I know it’s not going to be that accessible. I often wonder why people can’t treat someone in a wheelchair the same way they treat someone who isn’t in a wheelchair, but I don’t often think about why I can’t let it go. When I go out and do something that I’ve been dreading and it all goes extraordinarily well, it makes me realize that, one, I really need to calm down and two, sometimes my attitude is the one that needs adjusting.
A lifetime of being different and often being overlooked, gawked at, discounted or excluded for it has created an instinctual response that I don’t like. It has made me nervous and less adventurous. I fall into the trap of seeing myself in the worst possible light and picking up on other people’s discomfort in having to deal with someone that’s different. I’m also happier living in the world of the disability than I am venturing outside of it. I don’t mind negotiating standard hospital corridors, I don’t mind dealing with people that are used to dealing with people with disabilities. I don’t like that I mind venturing out into the real world where I might not be able to go where I’d like or be comfortable doing what I want to do.
Sometimes, it’s nice to push through and do it anyway, but sometimes, it’s nice to be able to say, I’m not comfortable, I don’t want to. The more I do, the easier it gets and so on a day where I finally take the wheelchair into the city centre of Bath for the whole trip, I come to realize that although there are accessibility issues around every corner, in the wheelchair, it is still more accessible to me than out of it. I often think that if we take the wheelchair, these are all the things we won’t be able to do when really, I should be thinking of all the things it would enable me to do that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.