We had an argument over wheelchair parking with a man today at Maroubra.
I don’t have one of those stickers to put on car windows yet. I need to go to a doctor and get some paperwork from home. But today we used wheelchair parking spots for brief drop-offs and pickups, while my friends parked elsewhere.
But on seeing us in one of the spots at the beach, the man in question started abusing us. His wife was in a wheelchair; they already had a spot, and he was wanting to use the space we were already in to get her back into the car.
We tried to explain we were not able-bodied people abusing the disability spaces, but he didn’t seem to understand or didn’t seem to want to listen.
In one of those classic ‘don’t back down moments,’ he failed to acknowledge we were telling the truth when I emerged from the vehicle, got into the wheelchair, and my friend drove away to another spot.
My other interactions with people in wheelchairs have been a lot more positive.
“As I’ve been traveling around, I’ve become far more conscious of people in wheelchairs than I was a few months ago,” I told my friends.
As we sat and waited for the fish and chips to be ready, two people in wheelchairs rode by. “Hello, how are you going?” we said to each other, smiling. I noticed one of them was double below-the-knee amputee, but mostly I noticed they were really enjoying themselves being out and about, having a great time down by the ocean.
Later we had a lovely jokey interaction with a couple who, like the first, were getting ready to get back in their vehicle.
My future with a prosthesis means I’ll be spending less time out and about in a chair, but there will still be times when I’ll need to get around in one. Anticipated occasions include long-distance trips, when I’m feeling tired, or when the prosthesis doesn’t fit or work properly.
Today was a further insight into the times when that might need to be the case, and the kind of things I might need to consider.
We went to Maroubra today for a couple of reasons, including that it seemed quite wheelchair friendly. There is a long flat promenade that’s relatively smooth, there seems to be ample wheelchair access, and it was nowhere near as busy as somewhere like Coogee. At the surf club, you can asks for a “beach wheelchair” (large, wide tyres), which they provide free of charge.
We went there for some fresh air (out of the hospital), some good conversation, and (ostensibly) fish and chips.
Fish and chips doesn’r sound good for diabetics, does it? Even though the shop ‘Barnacles’ at Maroubra doesn’t have wheelchair entry, I was able to see the menu from outside and order through my friends who could go into the shop. My friends had some battered fish and potato scallops, and I opted for some baby octopus and a salad. They also had grilled fish (which is also diabetes-friendly). All of our meals were excellent, and I would definitely go back there.
Conscious of my diabetes, I ‘snuck’ a couple of chips and even had a single beverage named after a former Prime Minister.
Later we went to an ice cream shop at the nearby East Gardens shopping center which had something called ‘diabetic ice cream.’ Research tells me it’s sugar-free, or at least low-sugar. They only had two flavors advertised as ‘diabetic ice cream,’ and I chose the chocolate one. I can’t remember the name of the ice cream shop, but it was on the top level of the shopping center, near the outdoor car park.
When I got back to the hospital, the nurse tested my blood sugar levels, and they were right on track. “You’re getting to know your body”, she remarked.
I’m pretty sure these small amounts of ‘leave pass’ are aiding the rehabilitation process. I’m so incredibly grateful my friends today, and others who’ve taken me out for a spin over the last few weeks.
“The guy in my room hasn’t had a single visitor in the week we’ve been together”, I told my friends today. Other people I’ve spoken to in the hospital have been here for periods of four and five months. By the time I get home, I will have been here for three months. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to get out and about, thanks to them.
“Just so you know, let there be no doubt, people really love you” my friend said today. We both almost cried.