Shopping frustration and counting the looks

Today my wife, LG and I met our Grandad in the city to have a bit of a wander and a look around, our LG has a Birthday coming up and he wanted some ideas on what she would like. Being a weekday and still 7 weeks from Christmas we figured it would be busy, but not so busy as it would be difficult to control an over excited nearly 3 year old and for me not to clip too many heels in my wheelchair.

I nearly didn’t go out as I was in meltdown this morning with the weather being so wet, knowing that if I got wet in my wheelchair it would soak right through and increase my pain, and if our LG started playing up I’d be a nuisance needing to be pushed whilst she was being controlled. It reminded me of an exercise I did in my Pain Management Programme with regards to being on a bus and having passengers shouting all these things at me as I found excuses for ruining everyones day. My wife seeing this just got ready and sat in the car loading in our LG and leaving the house and car door open waiting for me as I left the bathroom, shoes nicely placed in position so I could slip them straight on (It is lovely and beautiful but my inner demon still battles with all this help and support I need.

Anyway I begrudgingly got in the car and off we set. I feel guilty being out in my wheelchair for long periods as the damage in my spine means I cannot propel it for long and quickly rely on others pushing me, but I also knew that it was no good taking my scooter as I would have to constantly be getting up and down to get in the shops and after doing this a couple of times and walking in the shops for about 15 minutes I too would be fecked to do anything and the day would be over. I feel like I’m in a total lose, lose situation when we go shopping but I already miss out on so much that after a short period of sulking followed by some reflective mindfulness I decided to make the most of it, I also promised not to overdo it and to ask for help when I needed it.

Not taking the scooter was certainly the right decision, not one shop did I manage to manouver my wheelchair amongst all the Christmas bits and down the aisles without getting stuck, relying on someone else pushing me as there was not room to self propel myself, or turn corners without taking shelves with me, and don’t get me started with the amount of stuff just disgarded on the floor by other ignorant shoppers. Had I been on my scooter half the lifts wouldn’t have fit me in and half the stock in Norwich would be trailing behind me wrapped around various bits. It is only since I have had to spend more time in my chair that I realise just how inaccessible 70% plus places are. I wonder how many shops invite disabled people to “test run” they’re layouts before opening, based on today’s experience I would say very few. We think as a nation we are set up and adhere to the DDA part of the Equality Act but we fall a long way short. It is massively frustrating for me and I know I am not alone in my frustrations having 3 other mobility users share words with me today about how disgusting and difficult it is to get about and we all had carers with us. Trouble is we want independence, we want to be able to shop for our friends/partners on good days when the mood takes us not having to plan military operations and babysitters. \I get that the shops want to squeeze in as much stock as possible but everywhere I turn I find another obstacle, literally and it did drive me mad. My wife has planned a Christmas shopping trip for the week after our LG’s Birthday so that could be interesting!

I have mentioned before the size difference between me and my wife, before my back started crumbling I was a good 10 inches taller than her and since I’ve had to stop exercising (I trained hard as pre-accident Seachy) I have piled on the pounds and I am more than double her weight, imagine pushing that around for 5 hours! Well fortunately for her grandad was there to share the pushing duties, this however brought with it yet more frustrations, the amount of looks  we got as a mid 70’s year old man was pushing me around! I know it was difficult for them both and even more so when our LG got tired and cuddle up for a snooze. Now I know I used to get paranoid about people staring when they weren’t but today there was genuine shock and disbelief on some peoples faces as I pushed along by grandad. Importantly though we enjoyed ourselves even if we were all shattered afterwards

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