Three years ago on a sunny spring day Will and I went for a walk in our local park. It was a memorable walk for three reasons. First, it was one of the first times Will and I did something non-work-based together, and I realised how well we got on. Secondly, it was the first time I’d been to the park after it’d been renovated and I was blown away by how nice it was. And finally, it was memorable because, though only briefly, I pushed myself alongside him as we went along a level path.
This was the first time in years that I’d moved along beside someone else. I was using my heavy NHS chair at the time, and on the walk we talked a lot about wheelchairs. In fact I remember describing to Will at length what the walk would’ve been like if I’d had power wheels. I never did get power wheels but instead I got something even better – a wheelchair that I could easily propel myself.
Today I’ve been hanging out with my new support worker, Innes. We’ve been working together for only a few weeks but things felt right straight away. I enjoy her company and I feel very safe and comfortable in her care. And this afternoon we went for a walk in the same park I’d visited with Will three years ago.
It was a glorious early spring day. The sky was blue, the air sharp. There are a number of communal barbecues dotted around a lake in the centre of the park, and in the summer this area’s full of people cooking. Even today, though the barbecues were few and far between, there was still the tantalising smell of food being cooked, drifting along on the breeze.
We were chatting happily, with me pushing myself along beside Innes, effortlessly keeping pace with her. My all terrain chair meant that even when we went off-road I didn’t need her to push me. The thing about this walk that I find most joyous, is that for most of it I wasn’t thinking at all about how I was moving along.
One of the first things I noticed when my mobility started to deteriorate six years ago was how much thought I had to put into getting about. Before I started using a wheelchair, getting from A to B was always hard work and risky. Things improved when I began using wheels, but even so, using a chair required a lot of effort and attention.
The combination of the park’s level paths and the right chair meant that my movement felt fluid and natural in a way that it rarely does. It became so natural that there was, in one sense, nothing at all remarkable about our walk, but I know that that’s why it’ll stay in my mind for a long time.
The weeks ahead are likely to be very busy but I’m determined to pack in as many blissful walks as I can as spring begins to blossom.