This is the third installment in a hopefully long series! I have received a lot of submissions lately so it might be a while for everyone to get their turn. You can still submit, but keep that in mind!
Now I give the word to Fran from Wheelchairvista!
Who is Fran?
Tell us something about yourself: Who Are You?: Hi, I’m Fran, a Disability Blogger, Activist, Trainer, Advisor, and Information Guru.
My professional background is in nursing and I’m a highly experienced trainer, with over 25 years of experience. I can come into any setting to help educate and inform people about disability issues. I can also work with organizations to help them ensure compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
I live in London, England, and love exploring this great city and enjoying the variety of cultural events we are so lucky to have on our doorstep. But, traveling in London is challenging, not so much the getting there, but dealing with the myriad of parking regulations in each London Borough.
I try to be as independent as possible, but life, bureaucracy, and other obstacles often get in the way.
I’m also a cat lover and enjoy travel and photography. I’m an avid reader and love going to galleries and exhibitions.
What is your blog about and what are your plans with it?: My blog is about the issues I face each day both as wheelchair user and someone who has chronic pain. I often blog about the difficulties that I encounter, but also the good experiences. My blog is also political, because in the UK today it is so important for people with disabilities to be pro-active. The austerity policies of current UK government, ‘amount to violations of disabled people’s rights’ according to a 2016 UN report.
Why did you start blogging?: Part of my reason for blogging is to give inspiration to anyone struggling with a disability. I also want to give helpful information and tips to those who are new to our world
I am unusual in that much of my working life has been spent working with patients who have long-term disabilities. Now that groups includes me! So I have knowledge and experience from both perspectives.
I hope too that anyone without a disability who reads my blog will find my perspective on life different, thought-provoking and interesting.
Daniel Blake and the fight afterwards
Last week I went to a local Community Center to see the movie I Daniel Blake. It’s a harrowing, but accurate account of how the UK social security system treats sick people. If you get a chance to view it – it’s well worth watching.
I found the film resonated with me rather too much for my comfort. Daniel and Katie, a single mum, could be any of us. However, I’m not going to write any more about the film – but what happened afterwards.
The organizers of the showing, Unite Community decided to have a question and answer session afterwards. UC is a Union for people who are not in employment, but want to make a difference in their local area.
I had already agreed to meet my friend Sally, who wanted some medical advice. So I left before the after-show session started. We met at a mutual friends’ flat, as Sally’s flat is not accessible for me. I chatted with Sally and helped her ensure she knew what questions to ask when she saw her consultant.
As we finished talking, Sally’s partner, together with our mutual friend Joan arrived. They were accompanied by Joan’s son Tim and his partner. The newcomers were laughing and joking. But as they started to explain what they found so amusing I just froze. The question and answer session had ended in a fight and a well known local drunk was thrown out. The weapons of choice were not fists, but chairs. With Tim finally pinning the drunk to the wall.
I sat there, unable to move or speak. Images flashed past my eyes. Sounds and smells filled my senses. 25 years ago I was assaulted by a group of four drunk men on a train. I was left unconscious and bleeding. The damage they did to my body has contributed to my need to use a wheelchair. All I remember of the attack is seeing boots in front of my eyes and someone stamping on my back.
Sally who was sitting in front of me sensed my unease. The others, who were behind me were quite unaware of my discomfort. I managed to take some very deep breaths and recover my equilibrium. The time taken by the group to leave gave me a valuable space to allow myself to speak again.
I finished talking with Sally, and then sat down to talk to Joan. I decided to be upfront with her. I said I was glad not to have witnessed the fight. I also told her why. I was glad I could safely share that part of my past. By the time I left I knew I was safe to drive home and thankfully I managed to sleep reasonably well.
But I also realized how much more difficult it would have been if I could not have talked out what had just happened. What would I have done? Would I have been safe to drive? If I had stayed in the room after the film, how would I have coped?
I hope I would have been able to move myself quickly out of range of the fight. But I had been sitting at the front of the hall and the main fire exit was behind me. I was aware the drunk was a few rows behind where I was sitting. Could I have managed to get past him safely?
In the end, of course, I didn’t need to. But after such a narrow escape, such thoughts always go round and round in my mind. This time, the roundabout didn’t last for too long. That is a definite improvement!
I wish I didn’t still have flashbacks of the attack. But know that if they happen in a safe space, I’m able to manage them better. I will still avoid rowdy pubs and keep away from groups of drunks. I still need coping strategies.
I have other flash-back demons to conquer. But I’m dealing with this one. That is progress.
If you’re interested in participating in this project: check out my post.