It’s nearly a year since I got my disabled badge. It was a source of amusement when it arrived. I could walk distances with relative ease. While quite willing to park in the disabled bays I deliberately positioned my car in the space furthest from the store entrance. After all, it was likely that others had more disabilities than me!
A perk of my terminal condition, it arrived with a list of do and don’t. I can park on yellow lines, but only for three hours. And not if those lines are also striped on the kerb. I can park on a roadside pay and display meter for free. No time restriction. If I park in a disabled bay at my nearest NHS hospital they charge me £5. If I park on the street outside and hobble in, further damaging my leg, it’s free.
Some car parks are free for the disabled. Others charge. It’s quite frustrating because they rarely put the pay and display machine near the disabled bay. You end up parking, walking a fair distance to the machine and sign, and checking the small print to see if it’s free or ticket. There is no consistency. Some councils charge, others don’t. Some private car parks extend a freebie. Others don’t.
A year on, I recognise the need for my disabled badge. The perk of terminal illness is now an absolute must for me. The Motability car and blue badge have extended my ability to lead a worthwhile life. But I can clearly see my decline over the last few months.
I walked miles in Slovakia and Slovenia in February and March. I was no slouch inChile in July, although slowed in the final week. On Saturday I struggled unbelievably to get from football ground to nearby station.
And that struggle sits with me. My right leg is unbelievably feeble. Yet oddly supports my weight better on stairs since I changed cancer drug at the start of October.
I was knocked from behind outside the football at the weekend. Granted, I am now that frustrating slow walker you can’t wait to get past. But I’m carrying a walking stick – get past me but give me space as you do it!
If there’s a railing I now reach for it. I need it. And I now have insight to the remarkable lack of handrails in the country. Stairways in football grounds (and presumably other event venues), Public lavatories. Hotel bathrooms. Places where a simple railing or handle would make the life of millions of infirm people, and more importantly me, so much safer. And easier.
I can see my decline over the year. I don’t like it, but I suppose it’s an inevitability. But I still want to lead as active a life as possible. But I can see how a lack of basic facilities, thoughtless attitudes of others and genuine fear of falling on my part lead to people staying indoors when they could or should be out and about.
This feeble leg is driving me mad!