Yesterday afternoon Ruth, Claire and I took the train to Brighton. The rain slapping against the windows suggested it wasn’t a good day for going to the seaside but fortunately, by the time we arrived the sky was clear and Brighton was lit by a gentle wintery sunshine.
We’d come down for our friend Helen’s birthday, which we celebrated last night. It’s a long time since I’ve been to such a hectic bar – The place was packed, the music was loud, and most people already seemed quite drunk. I got the impression it wasn’t somewhere that anyone expected to see a wheelchair, and it was almost impossible to get about. So when I needed the toilet I decided to walk to the Ladies with Claire’s help.
Completing the 20-metre journey was a mental and physical endurance test and it tested our strength, negotiating skills, patience, persistence and resilience.
I clung on to Claire as we inched our way through the crowded bar. A good number of people laughed as we passed and I assumed they thought my chaotic movements were due to inebriation rather than a neurological condition. One man asked me if I’d taken drugs, another refused to move out of the way so we could get past, and several people tried to dance with me. I was aware of a lot of nervous smirking each time I fell to the ground.
It was a huge relief when we finally made it back to our table. The sense of achievement was similar to how I remember feeling when I finished my twenty-meter swimming test as a child. I got a badge for that, and I felt I deserved one for this obstacle walk as well. But despite the problems, we had a great night and headed to bed in high spirits.
Strangely, this wasn’t the only tricky trip to the loo this weekend. Our hotel has a great accessible toilet – but it’s surrounded on all sides by steps, so there’s no way of getting to it if you use a wheelchair. This makes it the most inaccessible-accessible loo I’ve ever come across.
Other than the many trials of going for a wee, I’m having a great time. As I write this I’m lying in bed, looking out over the sea, with Ruth and Claire asleep nearby.
In a few hours we’re going to meet Chiv and some other friends for a Sunday roast before heading back home. I’m hoping we’ll also be able to fit in a walk down by the sea. It’s a busy trip but I’m feeling happy and relaxed.