VIDEO: Is it fun being a wheelchair user?

I just made a video answering some of the most common questions I get asked as a wheelchair user, including is it fun to be in a wheelchair?

Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for all my other videos!

NEW VLOG: About last week’s activities

Hi guys,

Sorry that today has been a double post day, I don’t really like to do that but I’ve been so busy lately and have so much to tell you in quite a small scale of time that it’s going to be better to do it this way.

 

Here’s a vlog that I posted on YouTube about the gig I went to last weekend and also my visit to the West Yorkshire Playhouse. I know that I haven’t mentioned my theatre trip on here yet but I’m hoping to do a post on it this week,

 

Enjoy guys

 

 

Justin Furstenfeld gig at Band On The Wall 18/10/14

So this weekend I went to see Blue October’s lead singer Justin Furstenfeld doing a solo tour (The Open Book Tour) at Band On The Wall in Manchester. I’m not going to review the gig or anything, although it was amazing, but I going to talk about my weekend.

I was a little nervous about going because I’d never been to the venue before but as it happened I needn’t have worried.

There was a ramp into the building and the staff were really helpful. They’d reserved seats for my friend and I, just like they said they would, and a member of staff led us to and from our seats at all points of the gig. I’ve kept the piece of paper that said the he seats were reserved for me as a memento too, along with my ticket.

The other members of the crowd were lovely too and no one complained at having to dodge round my walking frame Martha to get by me.I know it sounds silly but I sometimes feel self-conscious at things like this that I might get in other people’s way or whatever, but I didn’t feel like that at all that night.

Justin was amazing and he played quite a few of my favorite songs. It was really good to listen to his story and it was nice to hear everyone singing along.

I would definitely go back to this venue if they had a band or artist I wanted to see. This is more than can be said for some of the places I’ve been to, which shall remain nameless.

Feeling amazed

Over the weekend I came across what I feel has to be the most amazing disabled toilet that I’ve ever seen so I feel that I should tell you all about it.

I’ve known that this said public convenience has been in the shopping centre in question  for a while, but I’d never used it before because it sits next to two others. I’ve always used those instead because this one had the symbol for changing facilities on the door as well, and I don’t need those so I’ve always tried to leave that loo free for people who do.

However this weekend I was out with Rob. We decided to make the most of the nice sunshine and hop on a train for the day. I was in my wheelchair and when the cleaner, who is always really helpful when she spots me mooching around any of the city’s shopping centres, saw him pushing me into others, she asked us to wait while she went and got the key for the other one. She was being nice, and we didn’t want to throw this back in her face, as the saying goes, so we waited.

When we got inside we were both amazed (in a good way) at the quality of facilities inside. The room itself was at least the size of my bedroom at home, if not larger. My bedroom is pretty big, by the way.

There was a hoist too, and a changing table with a moveable folding screen for added privacy, and a large, comfortable-looking chair that could be moved around the room to the place you wanted it.

Oh, and there was also two sinks set at different heights, lots of handrails, two emergency chords that I could count, lots of bins at various heights and loads and loads of toilet roll, which is always nice.

They were lovely and clean too.

This was easily the well-equipped disabled toilet that I’ve personally ever seen. Needless to say I was one impressed lady.

Things don’t always go to plan

Yesterday I found myself having to go somewhere that I had never been before.  I always get a bit nervous about doing this, especially if I’m on my own, for obvious reasons. I decided to take the train because, although I getting used to taking the bus without help, I still find the choo choo much easier to handle. I booked my assistance in advance (as advised) so I was optimistic that things would run smoothly from a public transport point of view at least.

Despite being nervous, with the help of station staff and taxi drivers, I got to my appointment on time with very little stress and without getting too cold or wet, which is always nice. I think the meeting went well too, so I was feeling fairly pleased and wondered why I’d been awake half the night worrying.

After my appointment, I knew I had a bit of time before my train back home again so I thought  I’d brave walking back to the station rather than getting another taxi. I wanted to get some exercise anyway.

That was around the time it started to rain. Not too much, but enough to make the idea that I might get lost on the way seem even less appealing than it would do normally, so I decided I’d make things easier for myself and just take a cab.

It arrived. My walking frame Martha fit into the boot, albeit with a bit of persuasion.

“Where to, Love” the cabbie asked.

“The train station, please” I replied, thinking it would all be plain sailing from here. Little did I know that the area I was in for my meetings had two nearby train stations so I didn’t bother to specify which one I meant, because I thought there was only one and it would be obvious where I wanted to go.

I just so happened to be closest to the one that I didn’t want to be at, but because I didn’t tell the driver I wanted to be at ‘Station X’, because I thought that he’d know where I wanted to be because the place where my appointment was at also had the place “X” as part of its name. However, station “Y”, where he took me, must have been closer to where I was, because that was where I found myself getting dropped off. Only silly me didn’t realise straight away, not being from the area and all.

Yes, I ended up in the wrong place. Away from where I had already booked my assistance, only because I didn’t know either of the stations I didn’t realise until he had already driven away.

At this point I really couldn’t be more grateful to all the staff who helped me that afternoon. Not  only was I somewhere else I’d never been before, but the station was also being operated by staff from a different rail company to the one I had booked my travel assistance with.

Once upon a time, this would have thrown me into complete meltdown, but I stayed calm and wondered over to the assistance desk where I relayed the story to the nice person behind booking office, even though I was still a little confused as to how the driver and I had managed to get so mixed up.

He was amazingly helpful and rang the other train company, explained the story and offered to put me on the next train that would get me to where I needed to be. They agreed to cancel the help I had arranged for the other place, and informed the staff at the station I was going to that I’d be coming in on another line, at an earlier time than expected.

That sorted, I was helped onto the train, and the people working at the station I was going to still managed to fit me into their schedule to help me get my connecting train home again. Now that I got through it all safely I find it quite funny.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and it was quite a confidence boost for me that I didn’t panic. I’m actually quite tempted to write to both companies involved to praise them for their customer service and thank the staff involved for going the extra mile, but I don’t know any names so it probably wouldn’t make any sense to whoever ended up reading it.

But thank you to all who helped me out yesterday to make sure I got home again in time for dinner. I couldn’t have done it without you.

 

 

 

 

Disabled Toilets

First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m sorry about the lack of updates lately. My life has been a maze of appointments and the like. Ali who writes My (dis)abled Life nominated my blog for another award which I will be passing on next week when I’ve finished compiling my list of nominees.

So, today I’m going to talk (and possibly rant) about a subject close to my heart: disabled toilets. As far as I understand it now though, I think the politically correct term is ‘accessible  toilet’ these days.  I’ll probably use both during this post. Although. that will have more to do with the fact that I don’t want to use the phrase ‘disabled toilet’ over and over than anything else.

Now, given that I use my walking frame or my wheelchair when I’m out in public, I end up seeing rather a lot of these so-called accessible loos. The thing that I tend to find is that they’re either brilliant with tonnes of space and the sink and the toilet roll holder at the perfect height, or there are a lot that are quite the opposite. Well, with regards to my personal mobility issues anyway.

Often I find that a lot of them aren’t quite big enough and my wheelchair or walking frame take up most of the space inside and don’t give me a lot of room to move around it easily. As I’m sure you can imagine, this isn’t good if you’re trying to go in a hurry and I have to try and step over things. I find this quite hard and sometimes I trip over which really isn’t a good thing on a full bladder, trust me. It was even worse when I had my surgery a few years back and my mother had to come in a help me (I won’t go into details) but there was even less space then which made us both really, really stressed.

If I’m out and about on my own and I don’t have the option to leave Martha outside and just ask someone to help me walk in, I tend to have some loos that I try to avoid using for these reasons and try and remember where the roomiest (and also cleanest) ones are. I know that you’re all probably thinking that I spend way too much time thinking about toilets, and you’re probably right, but given that I don’t personally find many of them user-friendly I don’t really have much of a choice.

Don’t get me wrong I have seen my fair share of clean, spacious ones ( I even saw one with a hoist once,  but I really have only seen this  once in somewhere other than a hospital). I don’t feel that enough of them are up to scratch. It is because of this that I very rarely feel comfortable using the term ‘accessible’ toilet, when, in my view, many simply aren’t easily accessible to me without help.