Though I started my new year with positivity, and I am trying to stay that way, life is already proving to be a challenge.
As you know I am disabled and I use a wheelchair fulltime. I have always had a disability, but only been in a wheelchair fulltime for 17 yrs, and trust me it was esteem changing. I remember, as well as having a domineering partner, a new baby of 13 months and then suddenly I ended up in a wheelchair fulltime after a bad femur fracture that has never healed properly.
Suddenly I felt tiny in a vast world, vulnerable & helpless and people spoke to anyone with me, rather than to me. Though small in stature and already being disabled as I have said, I had always walked and through my teens and twenties, often miles with my dog, been able to use public transport, gone pubbing, clubbing, bunking on friends on floors for months and enjoyed my youth no differently to anyone my age.
However, this sudden change still reflects on my present life in the respect of transport, as I don`t drive and my ex husband used to do all the driving. I live 7 miles from the nearest town and a taxi would be £40 there and back for one trip. It is £8 return every time my Son attends college and between the ages of 16 to 18 there is very little help financially as it is seen as up to the parents, so I am glad he has now turned 18, though it is still a struggle. I lost £200 a month when I acquired my car from Motability, though I love her, I am still learning to drive and It is a double edged sword; On one hand to be independant would mean freedom but financially it has meant a financial unheaval. (I don`t smoke or drink.)
People are under the misconception that the disabled are financially well off and we get a lot of money from the government, and though we get more, we also have extra costs such as the above, for things that the able-bodied take for granted. I do all my shopping online, as I can`t get to them and also find I couldn`t do it alone as I often can`t reach things and feel embarrassed asking people, plus I`m not keen on busy places as i am low down and feel vulnerable, seeing only Peoples waistlines; People in crowds often don`t see me and often nearly end up on my lap! To shop on-line though carrys extra costs, such as delivery or postage, and if you shop at different places this can often mount up, especially at times such as Christmas, etc. My local shop, now has a ramp, but the doors are too heavy and often locked, and there is no assistance bell, so on a cold day this can be awful. Once inside there are often post bags, boxes and newspapers lining the aisles and in the way, and I have to ask someone else to go to the counter for me or I just leave, so I rarely go there and we`re back to home shopping!
My present worry is my heating is flashing one (Almost empty) and I have to find £200 for the minimum amount to top it up. Unlike the elderly the disabled don`t get the £200 heating allowance, despite the fact we don`t move around a lot and feel the cold and are just as prone to chest infections, etc. I do feel this should be means tested rather than just age related, especially as I see many OAPs that walk miles and are fit as fiddles apart from the odd ache or pain due to their age. So I have had to apply for a social loan, which I have been refused for before as I wasn`t fresh from prison nor new to this country, which I felt was unjust as I felt just as worthy in my plight.
This wasn`t meant to be a disability rights rant, as I don`t do those, but it has turned into one slighty. I am a great believer in `to be seen able-bodied, you must live as able-bodied as possible.` I have done this as much as I can, though since being in a wheelchair this has become more difficult in some aspects, especially now I am single again. I still strive to do this. So I am trying to learn to drive myself, rather than relying on the kindness of others. I am doing an open university course in Counselling and Psychology too, which enables me to use my brain and would like to become a relationship counsellor if possible in the longterm.