Please bear with me. I won’t get (too) philosophical. I promise there is a real world equivalency here. Something that, I hope, will help you, and perhaps others, see things my way.
Those of you that have made my acquaintance in person and those that have read my blog before already know that I have been battling MS for almost 12 years now. And it is a battle. A really tough one at times. What a lot of you don’t know is that things got a lot more difficult over the past six to nine months – for reasons I will not discuss today. Heck, my extended family had no idea until they saw me using a cane at Christmas. Some of my friends I haven’t seen in a long time still don’t.
My reduced mobility means that my walking range has decreased from about a kilometre (just over half a mile for those in the US) a year ago, to about 250-300 meters (under a quarter mile) on average. On bad days it’s even worse. And forget about stairs. A single flight of stairs is a huge task – more than that feels like I’ve climbed Mount Everest. Which means, as much as I hate the idea at age 40 (or my family the idea in general), that I qualify as handicapped. Remember, handicapped does not mean someone in a wheelchair alone.
Now, you might be wondering how there’s a link between the philosophical question of the chicken and the egg, and my MS.
Well, reduced mobility means I need to be close to wherever I need to go whenever I am to get out of the house and then my means of transport. So, if I want to go for dinner with friends or family, or to a shop (I know you can have pretty much everything delivered these days, but still), or to an athletic event, or a concert, or whatever it is I want to do, I need to be near to my end destination. Like stone’s throw near. With as few obstructions and elevation changes as possible.
So far so good. I hope I am being clear.
The problem is though that our architecture and mentality aren’t always in sync with those needs. Most places aren’t built to accommodate for people with mobility problems. Handicapped parking is now the norm in many countries, but does not always facilitate handicapped people but merely a legal requirement to exist. Buildings sometimes don’t have handicapped accessibility. Sidewalks may be hard to access, especially if you are using a wheelchair.
I’m not being a nag. I understand that some places are inaccessible to a lot of people, whether they have a problem or not. But the options you have when you are mobility challenged are far fewer, and sometimes non-existent, even in some public buildings. And if you just broke your leg or something similar, you are going to face the same difficulties – but only temporarily.
I often hear that there aren’t that many people with mobility problems (or handicaps if you like) to justify any changes or the additional cost of alterations to accommodate them.
I beg to differ though.
Have you ever considered that the reason you don’t see many people with mobility problems around is that there are all those obstacles to them getting around? No parking, inaccessible buildings, no sidewalks, a lack of (accessible) public transport. And as to the cost issue, I would think that, in addition to those that are young yet are ignored by society (politicians, architects, the general populous), with an ageing population in developed countries it would be wise to invest in facilitating the mobility of these people.
This brings us back to the original question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? Is it too few people with mobility problems, or is it that the world is too hard for them to navigate?
I realise that my posts have gotten to be few and far in between. I won’t make up excuses again, or write a long-winding post about it. I know that my capacity to even type has deteriorated.
I will however ask you for recommendations on how you think I can continue to be productive and engaged. Some thoughts that came to mind are to convert/transition to other forms of expression, like to a primarily photo-blog, or podcasts, maintaining the writing element but allowing me do so less frequently.
I would love to hear from you. Drop me a line either in the comments section or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org