I’d been really looking forward to going to an event this weekend with Keir, but then three things happened that made it a bad idea.
First, Keir injured his back and wasn’t able to come. My friend Jess, who hasn’t supported me before, was up for taking over, so Leftwing Idiot and Will talked her through my support needs and care plan – I’m confident we’d have been fine if everything else had gone OK.
But it didn’t. Last night I got an email from the event organisers saying the wheelchair lift at the venue was broken. This was another blow, but after some online research and a discussion with Jess and Leftwing Idiot, I decided I’d be able to give shuffling up the steps on my bum a go. And I’m sure this would’ve been fine if the third problem hadn’t happened.
When I woke up this morning and took off the splints I’d worn overnight, my hands seemed OK to start with, but within a few moments it was clear they definitely weren’t. They were tight and unresponsive, again.
I gave them half-an-hour or so to improve but when they didn’t I had to make the difficult decision not to go to the event. Any combination of these issues that included at least one positive would’ve been manageable, but when all three were negative it just felt too risky. Here’s how I worked it out:
New support worker + no accessible entrance + working hands = Doable
New support worker + no hands + accessible building = Doable
No hands + no accessible entrance + experienced support worker = Doable
No Hands + no accessible entrance + new support worker = Dangerous
What venue managers need to understand is how complex access arrangements can be for disabled people. A broken wheelchair lift very nearly threw my day into disarray and it was only because Poppy was willing to rearrange her day that I wasn’t left without support. If you run a venue that’s described as ‘accessible’ and it isn’t, please say so! It took a lot of working out to stay at home at short notice.
There was a time when my determination to go to an event like this would’ve led to a different answer, but over the last few days I’ve made two promises to myself:
1) To keep doing as much as I can as normally as I can
2) To be realistic and make reasoned decisions
Today tested these for the first time and I reckon I made the right decision, however disappointing.