I’ve been busy. And I’ve certainly neglected this blog. But I have been busy enough that I do have more things to blog about. Because my living situation is definitely forefront on my mind, I think I’ll begin with that.
When I first became disabled (almost exactly two years ago), I was living on a third floor apartment in a building with no elevator. At first I crawled up and bumped down the steps. Certainly embarrassing, but hey, you gotta go where you need to go. Eventually, I learned how to go up the stairs on my crutches and sometimes, if I was feeling brave or particularly risky, going down on crutches. When I learned how to use a cane, I was able to go up and down the stairs without looking too ridiculous.
It didn’t mean that the stairs got any easier. Stairs are still the bane of my existence, and I enjoy cursing them. Eventually, I moved to a first floor apartment, where I was for a few months. There was a step to get in, a step to go down into the living room, and there was one other step outside to get up from the parking lot. This was a thousand times better than living on the third floor.
And with so few steps, I had decided at one point to try and use my wheelchair around there. Notice the past tense? Like all things, it seemed like a great idea at the time, taking off my anti-tippers and going outside and trying to jump a curb with no spotter. It ended up with an awkward trip to the doctors, where I had to explain that ‘no, I had never injured my spine before’ while sitting in my chair.
Still, the few steps weren’t that bad. Aggravating, as all steps are, but they weren’t bad. They were far more manageable than three flights of stairs. But they were enough to make me decide that I never wanted to live anywhere with stairs or steps again. I was recently able to move out on my own, and while looking, I made it absolutely clear that I wanted accessible housing. Now, there’s some ridiculous myth going around where apartments state that all their first floor apartments are equipped for persons with disabilities.
What a load of hooey!
In the end, I found two apartment choices that were equipped enough for myself, specifically, that as a young adult on a specific income, could afford. And let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever had. While searching, I absolutely refused any place that I wouldn’t be able to get in with my chair. I wanted to be able to do everything on my own, including bringing in my own groceries. (It’s a lot easier to lay a bag of cat food on your lap than drag it on the ground while wrestling with a cane!) And then I wanted a place where I could use my chair inside. It didn’t matter if I would need to or not, but that the option was there.
I ended up finding the perfect place. In fact, I’ve never seen so many able-bodied and disabled people blended together in one place before. I am not the only one who has found their perfect place. There’s a ramp up to the door that doesn’t even look like a ramp. It looks more like a sidewalk than anything else, and it ascends ever so slightly.
The doorways are widened. On the day I needed to move heavy boxes around while unpacking, I learned that wide doorways means a lack of bruised knuckles and fancy maneuvering. All the doors excepting the bedroom doors open outward (I didn’t realize how helpful that was until I got here), and I can fit my chair with ease in the bathroom.
The bathroom isn’t specifically wheelchair accessible, but maintenance was willing to help make it more accessible. I had a handheld showerhead that I gave them to install, and when they couldn’t install the metal shower and bathroom bars, they suggested the suction cup bars (which work fairly well, but you do have to tighten them every now and then).
And there is not a single step. Well okay, one tiny one to a small porch/deck thing outside, but easily solvable with one of those temporary ramps. It’s a teeny step though. Not even curb sized. But apart from that, there are no steps. And it is a wonderful feeling. I can walk around my place without looking down. I can go inside my apartment without carefully navigating curbs and steps.
It’s easy living and it’s absolutely wonderful.