Battling with buses: a year on

Around this time last year I found myself trying to get used to using the bus on my own. This wasn’t something that I found easy, and it would make me very nervous. I don’t drive so I spend a lot of time on public transport and I found some types easier to deal with.

I mastered the train long before I felt confident enough to take the bus because I really wanted to make a surprise trip home from university for my dad’s birthday. Once I’d done it for the first time, I felt confident enough to do it again and again. It was like the world had opened up to me and I had more independence than ever before. It was wonderful and it also meant that I could take more trips back home when I started to miss my mother’s cooking.

Getting the bus felt like a whole other ball game to me because there were so many other things to consider than remembering to book my rail assistance 24hrs before I wanted to travel so that someone would be able to help me with the ramp. Buses brought with the other challenges. I had to worry about fitting my walking frame on the bus so that no one would trip over it, and if I had to able to be able to put it in that place for myself. I have seen many buses with a whole range of different layouts, some of which I find easier than others but I never know which one will turn up.

if I have to be anywhere by a certain time I need to get one or two buses earlier than the one that would get me there just about on time in case some turn up that don’t have enough space. This time last year the thought of boarding a bus without a friend or someone to help made me feel sick with nerves and I tried to avoid it as much as possible.

However, I am pleased to say that 12 months on, doing this doesn’t bother me too much anymore and I get the bus alone quite often, although my family will always try and meet me at the bus stop by our house when I get home again to help me get off. A lot of the drivers on my local route now recognise me and are always willing to help, as are a lot of the other passengers too, which is always lovely. I just try my best to avoid travelling at busier times and try to leave myself plenty of time to get to where I need to be so that I can be more relaxed.

If I know that I need to get a lot of shopping, or use my wheelchair instead of my walking frame, then I need to have someone with me. However, if I don’t need to carry a lot and will be using my frame, I know longer feel worried about having to go it alone.

I think that’s progress. I feel like I’ve gained so much more independence and I always find that to be one of the best feelings in the world.

Progress and success!

Today I have some exciting news for you all. Well, it makes me really happy, I’m not so sure about the rest of you, but I’m feeling really quite proud of my little self.

Those of you who’ve been following the blog for a while now will know that I used to have a lot of fears about taking my walking frame Martha on the bus by myself, because of access issues with getting on and off them, the amount of space she takes up while I’m on there, and my worries that there wouldn’t be enough room for her later on in the journey.

This had been a problem for me for a very long time and I was often too afraid to take the plunge to go in alone without an help because, let’s just say I’ve come across a few people being quite rude and being really quite unhelpful even I’ve had someone there with me. Thing is, I’m 22 now and I knew I had to shape up try face this sometime. So I did. It wasn’t easy. In fact, I found it really stressful. Sometimes I’d have to try really hard not to cry out of fear and relief at different times.

My mum would always ride the bus with me when I was going into town to meet my friends, then walk home again, only to walk back to town to pick me up again and take the bus home with me. As much as I appreciated her doing this, it wasn’t fair and I knew it had to stop.

Slowly, I began to feel more at ease if I timed my journeys so that they were evening ones, when the transport is quieter, but after doing I didn’t feel quite so uneasy, got excited and wrote a post about it telling you all I thought that I was maybe making some progress.

Well…

Fast-forward a couple of months and I honestly can’t remember the last time that anyone got the bus with me unless they just so happen to be heading in the same direction! I know now that if the bus gets too busy while I’m halfway through the journey I can just get off and wait for the next one if they’re regular enough and it doesn’t bother me now. Mum still walks me as far as the bus stop near my house, and meets me at it when I get back off, but I’m not going to turn having company to walk home with.

In fact, I was on a bus just yesterday and someone I’ve noticed a few times asked me if I was by myself. Not in a rude way, but in a pleasantly surprised one. I don’t know if it’s because this person recognised me too but had only ever seen me with someone else. A small, self-centred, part of me hoped that this was true and that they were, in a way, recognising my achievement without really realising.

I’d still rather take the train given the chance, but if you had told me at the start of the year that I’d feel so relaxed about buses I’d probably have laughed and said “not likely”.

This accomplishment may seem small, but I have surprised myself and managed something that I’d begun to doubt I ever could.

With that, I am happy.

Making progress, maybe…

There have been a few occasions now where I’ve blogged about getting butterflies in my tummy when it comes to using the bus on my own. I’ve done a bit when I’ve not really had a choice but I always worry about being able to get my Nimbo frame Martha on and off, and there being room for my walking frame on board and a whole host of other things.  I usually try and avoid going it alone as much as possible, but I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to just get over it and get on with it so that I won’t be so nervous anymore.  Well, I have some news…

I DID IT AGAIN!!

Yup, that’s right. And this time I could have chickened out and got a taxi, but I didn’t. Sure, my friend stood and watched me get on in case there were any problems and my mum met me at the other end just to give me an extra bit of confidence, but I did the rest. Well, for the most part.

I lugged Martha up and down the ramps and negotiated her into a safe position for the ride. A nice man did help me get the frame back out of the hole I’d wedged it and myself into when I reached my stop so that I didn’t have to struggle quite so much to do it. The important thing is though that I felt able to do it for myself, I just didn’t want to offend the guy by throwing his kindness back in his face, and, I’ll be honest, he did it far faster than I could’ve done.

The thing that surprised me most of all though wasn’t the fact that I achieved what I set out to do (get home in one piece), it was that those butterflies didn’t kick up anywhere near as much as they usually do. I’m not sure if that was because I travelled at a time of day when people weren’t trying to get their kids to and from school and most shoppers had already gone home for the day, or if it was simply down to the fact that I’m slowly getting more comfortable with getting the bus like I am already am with the train.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m seriously hoping it’s the latter.