Challenging Habitat Blog

I am European and in the UK.

Achilles – take 3

The ‘door-kick and stop’.

When occasionally carrying something bulky in the past, I thought it annoying that those posh stainless steel buttons with a wheelchair printed on it only feature on the ‘outside’ doors of Portland Square Building at Plymouth University, but that’s it. Inside, not a single door is ‘accessible’ and if you enter the building through the wrong door, you have to negotiate one of these veeery slooow open glass cage lifts to get up one level, to the ‘proper’ lifts.

Now I’m carrying myself on crutches through the building to get to my office on 5th floor, with four 4 heavy, self-closing doors in the way. Opening one of these requires just enough kick with the rubber stopper on the bottom of one crutch to swing it a little more than required, then quickly preventing the door from falling close with said rubber stopper, while getting ready to easy my way through with the help of the second crutch.

Never mind the door slamming after me, it should have been fitted with an opener…

Achilles – take 2

DSC_1095Stairs: British medics strongly discourage the use of crutches on stairs and if you ever tried you know what can go wrong…although I’ve been shown how to do it safely in Hong Kong.

Alas, here, the method of choice is the ‘bum-shuffle’. Not very dignified!  Apart from that, it requires somebody to keep stairs reasonably clean, a daily challenge when you’ve got a large dog who is shedding his winter coat.

Oh yes, dog: Scapa is used to long walks on weekends with me and will have to wait for a while before I can do that again!




Temporary plaster

I never thought much about Iliad and Achilles, but subconsciously thought my tendons as ‘immortal’ as Thetis tried to make Achilles by dipping him into the Styx. Well, on Friday, I learned they are not when I tore one of mine while – what else? – exercising. ‘Rubbish!!!’ was the general consensus among the onlookers, not least because the accident deprived 19 others of the last 10 minutes of communal sweating.

The reason I write about this here are the challenges I now encounter as a person with (temporary) impaired mobility. First, how would I get up from the floor of the gym onto which I collapsed and into the changing room to shower and change? Never mind that, after a quick assessment and application of an ice pack, the first aiders carried me into a taxi to the minor injury unit, where I was offered a wheelchair. An hour or so later, I re-emerged fitted with a non-load bearing plaster and two crutches. Next, my husband David got a lift from our friend Ann to where I parked my car and collected me.

Relying on people to transport me and fetch and carry everything that can’t be carried in my little rucksack will be a part of my life for the coming weeks – and theirs. We’ll see how well the built environment is suited to let me carry on with daily life.

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