I got off easy. Weeks ago I fractured my foot in two places while trying to retrieve my dog after dropping his leash. Since then I have been ordered to not put any weight on my right foot. Little did I know what such a seemingly slight injury would do to my mobility and spirit.
Now, I recognize this is a temporary situation, and I am not trying to speak for individuals who are unable to walk without assistance. Nor do I think that I somehow “know what its like” for individuals with limited mobility. But I am sharing what I have learned from this experience in hopes that it can enable others to be more sensitive to issues that folks face who need assistance to walk. And if you are a business owner and you are not required to offer access that is in accordance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), you should rethink that. I’d like to think that all churches comply, but if your fellowship hall, or area where you are meeting with a small group does not—you must change that.
The most shocking thing that I have discovered since my mobility issues began was the number of businesses that do not offer entrances and doors that are in accordance with the ADA. (Come on, Chipotle, seriously? What’s with that heavy front door?) And what’s even worse some places “look” like they have responsible ramps—but are not helpful. For example, the hotel that I stayed at recently offered a ramp that appeared to be at a 45 degree incline. Upon my return to the room, I had to work against gravity. Had I used a motorized scooter that may have helped. But still it was no easy feat.
My husband took me to our favorite restaurant (yeah, he sure has tired from doing a lot of the cooking). After the meal, when I tried to maneuver my way through the tiny women’s bathroom, the weighted door nearly threw my off my crutches. Why are there springs on bathroom doors anyway? And if I had been in a wheelchair that bathroom would’ve been completely off limits.
I feel extremely blessed by the fact that I did not need a cast or surgery and I am very lucky that this situation is temporary. In a few weeks, when I gain more of my independence, I won’t take my mobility for granted and I will raise my voice when I see places that are not inclusive of people who have mobility issues.
So what is your experience? Have you made any changes to your life or attitude after suffering from a temporary physical setback? How did that experience change you for the better?
Elizabeth McBride, who can’t wait until she is able to go up three and half flights of stairs on foot, is the director for intergenerational programs and editor for Café.