The world of disability
Perhaps it’s time we reviewed just what we mean when an establishment is decreed to be “disabled-friendly.” Or maybe I’m noticing such things only now because I myself have become disabled, hobbling about with the aid of a walker since I cannot put my full weight yet on my left leg.
Dropped off in front of the new mall “Ayala on the 30th” in the Ortigas area some weeks back, I found a ramp that wound circuitously through several levels. Midway, a lady guard ran up to me and my companion, saying with some urgency that I should move to one side because I might get run over (“Ma’am, tabi po kayo, baka kayo masagasaan!”). I looked around for an approaching vehicle and saw instead two women coming down the ramp, one wielding a walker with wheels and the other holding onto a wheeled cane. The woman with the wheeled walker was coming at me with some speed, so I hurriedly scurried to one side lest we collide.
Some seconds later, having narrowly avoided disaster, I had to laugh inwardly at the serio-comic situation. If a collision had occurred, the scene might have even made it to some “funniest videos” compilation.
When I told my husband about it, he said it might have been better if I had gotten off at the basement parking area, since access to the mall was fairly straightforward and there was an elevator to take me to the upper levels.
Ramps are most convenient for wheel-chairs, I think, but rather risky for those using walkers, with or without wheels, or even crutches or canes. The sloping surface makes it rather unstable. I have yet to try getting on an escalator with my walker, but the scenario gives me the heebie-jeebies.
When people ask me to meet them outside my home, or when overcome with cabin fever, I find myself evaluating the accessibility options of places I want to visit.
For instance, much as I want to watch certain movies (“Hidden Figures” and “Beauty and the Beast” come to mind), I have yet to find movie theaters on the first floor of cineplexes, or which present little risk for me to stumble or negotiate through a crowd.
At the Podium (most places I will review are in the Ortigas area since I visit The Medical City frequently for therapy), I chose to lunch at Wild Flour mainly because it’s on the ground floor, though much to my surprise, the guard said they have wheelchairs for the use of disabled patrons. I said I could walk on my own, although I underestimated the distance, much to my chagrin. Terry’s in the basement level is also “walkable” but the distance one must negotiate can be daunting. Plus, the location of the elevators also presents a challenge.
For now, I have yet to work up the courage to visit an SM mall because of the daunting crowds, though the hubby says there are wheelchairs for rent.
I have learned so much about the world of disability in the two months or so I’ve been part of it.
When I asked my orthopedist if I would need to buy a wheelchair, he shook his head and declared: “No need, you might become dependent on it. Better to use a walker.” My therapists also advised against buying a walker with wheels, saying that the wheels had been the cause of countless accidents. True enough, a walker is light enough to lug around, although in the early stages of therapy, most exercises centered on strengthening my arms on which I would depend to move my walker about.
I would also caution against impatience at one’s limitations. Too many times, you might be tempted to go beyond your limits of endurance and end up in an accident that could worsen your condition.
My grandson, who is nearly two, loves my walker. When it is “parked” somewhere in the house, he makes a beeline for it, sometimes even overturning it and using it like monkey bars. A few times, I swear he even tries to imitate the way I walk with it!
If only he knew how lucky he is that he is still many years away from aging and disability, which, come to think of it, is the natural destination of his lola and her cohorts!
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