Friday, 4 February 2011

Wheelchair mobility vanishing Part 1

On Sunday we took the boys to a horse show at the O2, it was booked mainly because we had missed the one at Olympia in December through a combination of snow and illness. We had picked an afternoon performance to avoid the hassle of getting back late without a carer to help with the bedtime routine. The O2 is usually an easy venue to get to. Surbiton to Waterloo takes 20 minutes, transfer to Jubilee line and journey to the O2 is 30 minutes and level wheelchair access throughout. But on arrival at Waterloo we heard that services just been suspended due to two faulty trains. The only other option is the bus; total wait and journey time, one hour fifteen minutes. I can't deny that without the bus option we wouldn't have got there, but buses have always been my least favourite form of public transport. Whether being held up by them when driving or sitting on one, enduring the most protracted, indirect route possible between two places, they are awful things. The only time I have ever been glad to see one was when walking home from Kingston in the rain after six pints of London Pride.

Anyway on Sunday it was the first of several things to spoil my afternoon. Havlng been cooking on the bus for an hour my arm had seized and been sapped of any strength I had left. I managed to manouver off the bus but once out, I simply couldn't apply sufficient pressure on the joystick, and Luke had to drive it for me.

By the time we arrived inside the arena, we had already missed fifteen minutes. with no house lights on we were quickly led to our seats, and in the darkness drove into a metal barrier. My eyegaze system mount took the brunt of it, causing the whole thing to be pushed six inches towards me.

So the rest of the first half of the performance I couldn't enjoy as I was completely preoccupied with 1) contemplation of the end of independent mobility; 2) How, with my eyegaze completely out of position, I was going to communicate with Tracy at the interval and explain what happened and how to fix it and; 3) whether anything had been damaged and the resulting hassle and cost to replace it. Also having lost eye control the system was randomly doing things so I was worried it might just start reading something aloud or deleting files. I managed to recline the wheelchair sufficiently to just get my eyeline low enough to gain some control and put it into sleep mode.

At the interval I managed to say "pull back" and I was back in control and fairly sure no serious damage had occurred. So with just my impending immobility to dwell on, I was able enjoy the second half a little more. The show itself was OK, I probably wasn't in the right frame of mind to give it a fair appraisal, but for the money it lacked much spectacle. I am sure that the horsemanship was world class, but it was all a little repetative. Nontheless, thanks to Tracy for organising it, and a sarcastic thanks to the overpaid, incompetent tube workers who are more interested in striking than maintaining their trains.


Pollyanna said...

You poor thing, Steve. That's the shitty thing about this effing disease;the continual loss of things so taken for granted which leads, eventually, to complete loss of independence. I just don't do public transport anymore. Liam got tipped over in his chair last time he went on the bus!!

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