>Quite a lot of the other wheelchair users who live locally to me I know, at least to say hello to if nothing more. I keep seeing this guy around in a chair who I don’t know but his chair catches my eye as it’s covered in stickers and its red and it has an unusual control (or at least I’ve not seen it before).
Today we were both on the train to Reading so I got a chance to chat to him and his carer. Mostly me and his carer doing the talking, you know what it’s like when two women with a common subject (disability/carers) get together.
B, his carer, really impressed me with her insight into the carer role as my experience has been a lot of carers don’t see the bigger picture of it. One of the comments that was really refreshing was about how carers can end up taking away a level of independence from their clients because of the tendency to go “I’ll do it, it’s quicker” and also to just take over. The other side of that, of course, is that people who have carers can sometimes find it easy to go “the carer’s here they can do that.” I’ve not met many carers who are good at stepping back and waiting like that (of course whether she actually is good at that I don’t know, but…)
I was also impressed that she didn’t tell me all the personal details of the guy she was with (she introduced herself and him and basically other than following up things he said – innocuous things – said nothing about him) because I’ve had so many carers who have gone “you wouldn’t believe the person I was just with…. and at least one time I had a carer who stood there and slagged off how much she hated her next client to which I went “you shouldn’t tell me that it’s meant to be confidential” and when she went “but you don’t know who I’m talking about.” I was able to go “oh your next client isn’t [her next client’s full name] then? because it was a friend of mine.
B was asking me about if I live alone and do I work and was I travelling by myself and she kept saying “Wow!” which actually was quite interesting for me as I tend sometimes to think I’m not doing so great with the CP and doing stuff. But she kept saying “you don’t let the wheelchair stop you then” which made me realise how much that’s true – I’ve always known it’s true but when I’m surrounded by able-bodied people doing so much more and also a few friends with disabilities whose limits are different to mine it’s easy for those sort of home truths to get lost in the wash so to speak.
That’s twice lately people have shown that they view my life in a different way to I do – a more positive way – and helped me to get a new perspective on things. I do find it very interesting getting these kind of wake up calls.