Limited mobility | Unlimited stories: How my friends and family show me they understand my limitations

in health •  16 days ago

Since I became a person of limited mobility I share a lot of my stories, which are sometimes plain frustrations, with others close to me. I'm not a complainer, but stuff can be hard if the world is built for people with average abilities and your abilities just got below average.

[For those who just pop in on my Steemit profile and don't have all the background (I linked a few stories below): I damaged my foot permanently almost 3 years ago. With orthopedic shoes I can walk if I carefully think about my steps and don't walk too much and/or too often. But walking hurts even on a good day.]

A lot of feedback I get from others that they hadn't thought about before is how we assume what people should be capable of doing. This is anchored even in something like my public transport app with which I calculate routes from A to B. It might say I have enough time to catch a certain connection with 2 minutes time, but it's undoable without doing a sprint, and I can't do that sprint. Or, when a website says they are 'located easy walking distance from the station' - who decides what distance is easy to walk and for whom?

Stories from friends


As my friends, partner, family have listened to my stories, they start to understand better and better where the limitations lie while walking the world. They try to find other examples or remember that time they had a painful ankle to try to understand what I'm going through. Sometimes they suddenly come back to me with a story, and how it made them think of me, and how it made them understand me a little bit better.

The funny thing is: it also very much makes me understand how well they indeed know how I (quite literally) walk through life.

A few examples


Friend 1:

She walked on the street on a hot summer day, on slippers, maybe carrying some groceries, all in all not the kind of day and situation to keep up with a fast pace. She crosses the street, still at a slow pace. A car has to stop in order to let her cross over, but feels like she's walking too slow for his/her taste. The person in the car decides to honk at my friend, letting her know she has to walk faster. My friend is annoyed and thinks: "What is this was @soyrosa crossing this street while being unable to move her pace up?"

She shares the story with me, explaining me how she understands why I always say that because I look young and healthy people expect me to be reasonably fit, and how that sometimes makes things harder for me. If I take the last seat in the train, if I take the lift instead of the stairs, I feel people watching and judging: she's healthy, she should walk faster, take the stairs, stand up for that elderly person...

Friend 2:

She has to switch trains at a train station, carrying a huge trunk with her. She's a healthy person, so the trunk doesn't bother her at all. But when she steps out of the train a surprise is awaiting: the escalator is barred and can't be used! Then use the lift, she thinks. But: this one is blocked too! The only way to now leave the station is to take the stairs, carrying her trunk, and walking quite a few meters more to be able to take another stairs in order to be able to take her train.

She shares with me how on any day she wouldn't have thought about this at all, but carrying the trunk with her (read: walking with an extra challenge) made her realize they could have thought better about the escalator / lift situation. They can work on 1, but not at 2 at the same time. She's planning on writing a letter about it to the company that keeps the stations.

Boyfriend:

He sees most of my struggles, and I don't have to tell him anything. He understands and always thinks 3 steps ahead so our walks are easier, with the least possible stairs, cutting off roads so we have the shortest routes, etcetera. He's plain awesome.

He also knows how frustrating it is, when it's very hot outside but I can only wear my warm, orthopedic shoes, made of thick leather, closed above the ankle, because only those shoes support me enough to be able to walk.

He recently shared with me how he now looks at people walking on slippers or ballerina type shoes differently. "They don't even realize how blessed they are to walk on these shoes without any support".

My own stories


When my friends and family share these stories with me they make me feel seen and understood. Still I'm sometimes surprized how much judgement I still carry myself and how often I have to correct my thinking. I noticed today how a few people who in my eyes 'didn't need to take the escalator' were exactly like me: looking young, looking healthy, looking like they should have no problems walking.

But I had no way of knowing. Like they have no way of knowing about me.

I'm still learning. Others are still learning. Do you? Are you aware how much you fill in about others' abilities? Or are you one of those people that look healthy but secretly carry some physical challenges with you?


Other stories in the Limited mobility | Unlimited stories series:

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Sorry to hear about your limited mobility. I had an interesting story about this, so in my cooking videos at least for the past few years I am always sitting down. I have had some people comment on YouTube, "Who cooks sitting down?..." Then one time I got a comment from someone thanking me so much that I do cook sitting down, because it gave that person hope. You see that viewer happens to be wheelchair bound. And they were like wow if Matt can cook sitting down than I can too. I only actually do it because my kitchen is too small and I can't get the right angles that I want with my camera. But I am so glad it helped at least that one person. :) I think people need to learn not to judge others. haha It would help the world out so much!

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Hahaha, your story makes me laugh! People are so funny, if you don't do it like they are used to they have all kinds of conclusions, questions, ideas... It's kind of AWESOME you as an 'abled' person were able to get less abled people to cook, just by that 'I want my cooking to look good on camera' decision :') Thanks for sharing this! Makes me smile still.

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hahaha well you are very welcome! :) Yeah people are funny sometimes, especially on YouTube! haha

You are a warrior :)
All the proves in this life can be solved with the power of the mind ;)
If you wanna read (an old motivational post & very short that I wrote in spanish but later I translate into english) its about my life and the hard life that I had, here its the link:
https://steemit.com/english/@nahupuku/i-will-tell-you-my-story-of-why-i-decided-to-training-into-a-gym

Blessings ;)

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Thanks for sharing @nahupuku! I appreciate your story <3

I have a good friend that has a disabled plate on his motorcycle. I have heard asshats doubt that can be possible. Makes me hopping mad. He is a genuine war hero, and though he doesn't 'look' disabled, but certainly is.

I'm glad you have friends that think of you and stand up for you. You've earned it.

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People can be SO SO judgemental! As if a disabled person can't do something cool as driving a motorcycle. At least, that's what I suspect people think. Sorry to hear your friend has to go through that, especially from people he fought for.

Having worked with differently abled people for many years I too view the environment around me with an eye for accessibility.

On one extended trip to Europe was littered with situations where having limited mobility was an exercise in problem solving and patience. Looking back on it we have quite a few “funny” stories in an “I can’t believe that actually happend” kind of way.

I totally understand your plight and I also know you are all the more stronger and awesome for it.

XXXOOO
~T

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Ah, where in the world are you? I often feel like Europe is not doing well on the accessibility scale, but I'm curious to hear where your experiences are based on :D

Thanks for these words, they mean a lot to me! :-)

I totally understand your plight and I also know you are all the more stronger and awesome for it.

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I'm in the US and due to the ADA LAWS (Americans with Disabilities Act) a lot of those types of accessibility problems are addressed.

I won't say it's perfect by any means and there is still a long way to go but at least there are laws I place to help the process along.

In Europe traveling by plane was incredibly weird when travelling with someone with an electric scooter for mobility. Not to mention the lack of ramps and such.

What are the laws like there?

Heya! You won and Honorable Mention in the ASW Contest "windows" theme. I have 100% power upvoted this post!

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Awesome! :D Thank you! :D

My challenges are not easy to hide! I can no longer walk at all. I have MS and it limits so many of the things I once loved doing, and now I travel through the photos people share and enjoy a social life here! Thanks goodness for Steem!

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Yes, it's hard to have to let go of the things you love(d) doing. I've had to say goodbye to quite a few too. The 'hiding part' for me is emotionally challenging, on the one hand I would LOVE more support from people, they will without a word stand up for someone who looks sick but look angry at me when I ask for it :-) I'm not saying the 'not hiding' part is easier. It both has its challenges. MS is a rough one - I'm so glad you've found Steem too! On my 'spoonie days' I'm thankful for the communities I've found here as well <3

I'm so glad you've got your friends, your partner and your family who give you support. Think ahead for you and lend a helping hand. Often enough I see people wrestling with disability's and get no support at all.

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That's absolutely true - I am very lucky to have people surrounding me trying to understand and learn and help in the right ways... They really take some of the load way for me :-)