Expectations of other people puts pressure on me to do things that you know could potentially harm you. Since I have been driving I have had to get my wheelchair in my car on my own and as I can't stand at all it means I have to drag my wheelchair over me to place it in the passenger side, this video on you-tube gives you a slight insight into the difficulties of getting in and out of the car just to go out when you are a disabled person http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuFiAMLZmCs&feature=related. People have always helped me with my wheelchair if they are around, but that cannot always be guaranteed if I want to be an independent active wheelchair user. The process of getting in and out of my car also takes time, so I always have to give myself plenty of time to get wherever I need to go, rather than just 'jump in my car and go' as so many other able bodied people do without thinking about it. I think this is one of the hardest things about having a disability and that is seeing other people do things so much easier and they take it for granted.
These are all things that able bodied people don't have to think about and so this adds to the pressure to do things that you know potentially could hurt you more, just to be able to fit into society. Recently I looked into the option of a rooftop hoist, which hoists my wheelchair to reduce the strain that getting my wheelchair in and out of the car provides. This option sounds like a good idea I hear you say, so this is why I am going to explain why they aren't as great as they sound. Firstly they would slow the process of getting in the car and going out even more, that is if I decided to get it fitted in the first place. Before having it fitted I would have to make some other choices. The wheelchair that I have at present would not be suitable for the hoist and so I would need to change it to a folding wheelchair. For an active wheelchair user this is not at all practical as they are much harder to push because power is lost due to the movement of the frame. The piece of equipment is also very expensive, because it is specialised and the companies that sell it know some disabled people have no choice about the purchase. I would get some financial assistance with this but would still be expected to find quite a bit of the money, which on part-time low pay is not the easiest option. So as you can imagine I chose to stay with a lightweight wheelchair. I have managed to get a really lightweight wheelchair which has helped, but I still had to find some of the money.
I received some support from Access to Work and Wheelchair Services. But that is another issue altogether, both sets of funding are at risk of government cuts set by the current Tory led government. If these cuts are put in place, this will just marginalise disabled people further in society. Making it even harder to be part of a society that they have a right to be part of. Just because my legs don't work why should I have a lower standing in society than someone who is able bodied.
I mentioned expectations of employment in the title of the blog, what I mean by this is partially what I have talked about already but also, my employer has always known me to be able to get to work on my own, in my car and so it is now expected that this is possible and don't see why it isn't sometimes. But as I said earlier, my back has took a battering and so this now means that I get more back pain which does stop me from doing some things because it is just too painful. For a time, before I got my newest wheelchair, people at work were very helpful (although not before I was in tears about it) and would help me in and out of the car to save my back. The situation shouldn't have necessarily got to this point as DDA states 'reasonable adjustment' and if helping me means I can go to work more because I am in less pain then surely this is 'reasonable adjustment?'.
But now because I have a lighter wheelchair that is meant to save my back from as much pain, I receive less help again. I don't expect special treatment and so I have allowed it to go back to this, but there is the worry that even though I have a lighter wheelchair that I may still have problems with my back as was shown yesterday when my back went into spasm, although it wasn't one of the worst spasms I have had it still caused me problems throughout the day but I still went to work because that's what was expected of me. There have been times when I have decided I can't go to work because of the pain, but I always feel guilty about this, because I feel I am letting people down. I also feel that the pain I get is not understood which is understandable I suppose if they haven't experienced this kind of pain.
Sometimes, the expectations of work come before "reasonable adjustments" and so make it harder for people to go to work and be part of society. The many cuts that the government are planning to make including DLA and Access to Work to name a few are going to make it harder for people to go out. The harder it is the less likely it is. Will we become the hidden, forgotten society?