As someone who’s still relatively new to life in a wheelchair, I still find myself floored sometimes by how inaccessible the world is to me. The little things constantly irk me, like receiving a gift certificate to a restaurant that is only accessible by stairs (I’m looking at you, every fucking place in Little Italy). Like wanting to take a quick peek at the clearance clothes at Target, but it turning into a lengthy adventure as I’m forced to tug, shove, yank the racks around so my wheelchair can fit. It always ends up turning the little things into big things. Crip life, yo; this shit’s hard.
But sometimes the big things end up tripping me up with their little elements. Let’s take apartment hunting: It shouldn’t be that hard, right? I mean, there have to be places with elevators, places with ground-floor availability, places that I can wheel into…right?
Yeah, turns out not so much. -.- The kicker? That one is in a seniors-only community! Because apparently no crips are under 55….
This is the stuff that wears away at me. These are the things that make me feel like the world doesn’t care about me, about the mobility-impaired as a social group. Proper accommodations aren’t made for us to shop, eat, or enjoy entertainment, fine, but not even to live? Seriously?
I survive–as do many PWDs–by accepting less than I deserve. My own apartment is an accessibility nightmare, so I’ve taken to drugging myself up to get around, and adding small things to make my life easier. (The mini-fridge is coming this weekend; there are no words to express my joy. ;__;) I don’t have a vehicle that can accommodate my wheelchair, so I borrow my mother’s on the weekends, and simply don’t go anywhere during the week. (Constantly borrowing your mother’s car when you’re damn near 30 doesn’t do much to alleviate the creeping feeling of immaturity and dependence that rides along with mobility impairment, btw.) I can’t afford a good wheelchair, so I rely on prayer and screaming when my chair–brakes fully engaged!–slides into traffic when stopped near corner ramps. (Yes, this has happened, and yes, it is terrifying.)
I want to say I manage to find a silver lining when this stuff becomes overwhelming, but I don’t think I do. For the most part, I survive on stubbornness. Because a world this unkind to the disabled, a world so determined to reject us? It clearly needs people like me to raise fucking hell. And sometimes raising hell wears me out, and I break, and I collapse and cry. I do have a magical secret for how I survive those instances, though:
His name is Morbo, and he’s my Chronic Pain Companion. I have several pets who I love and would never part with, but Morbo is special. He and I have bonded as our individual conditions have deteriorated in tandem, turning us into cranky, jaded, but still loving and joyful creatures. The days when I turn him down for snuggles, those are the days when I am ashamed of myself. Those are the days when I try to shake it out, try to open myself up again. Because he does it, he always manages to pick himself up and keep going…and do I really want to be showed up by a cat?