Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Son's Wisdom

Joe had gone to park the car and I was pushing myself into the Metrocenter, a really large mall close to our hotel in Newcastle. There was a slight rise and I was working to get myself up and over to the accessible door. An elderly woman and her son with an intellectual disability were walking towards the same door but from a different direction. I saw her concern as she watched me work to push up to the door and I knew that she desperately wanted to help me. I also knew that, at her age, that simple act could kill her.

We each neared each other and then, she darted towards me. Her son's hand shot out and took hold of his mother's arm. "Ask first," he said, "remember, ask first." A bit of annoyance and a bit of anger crossed her face at his direction, but she slowed to a stop and asked, "Could I give you a push?" I told her that I was just fine and didn't need any help. I glanced at her son and said, "Thanks."

And I meant it.

On arrival here in Heathrow I was grabbed and pushed, almost violently, by someone wishing to appear helpful, with is different than actually being helpful, and as a result I've been in pain all week. It's beginning to lessen, but my neck and back have bothered me ever since he grabbed the back of the chair and pushed me, hard, forward. I flew back in my chair and my neck snapped backwards. The pain for the first couple of days resulted in me needing some fairly strong pain medication.

So, yes, I thanked him and yes, I meant it.

"Ask first, remember, ask first," he had said. I don't know the story behind his quick response and or what personal experience he has had as a person with a disability that led him to such a skillful intervention, but what ever it was, I'm thankful.

"Ask first, remember, ask first."


Jenni said...

I think the incident you described where the person pushed your wheelchair without your consent, injuring you in the process, could be considered assault. If you want to, you can report to police in the UK on the non-emergency number 101.

I reported it to the police when a chap in a branch of Boots (the UK chemist / toiletries shop) tried to 'cure' me of my disability. He thrust a piece of paper into my face and started to talk about Jesus, while putting his front of my wheelchair and leaning over me so I couldn't get away. It was quite scary. I told the police I believed it was a disability related crime, because he selected me as a victim because I am a wheelchair user and therefore obviously disabled.

If you think what happened to you was an assault and you think you were selected by the chap in the airport specifically because of your disability, you could report it to the police as a disability-related assault. I don't expect the police would devote a lot of time to finding the perpetrator (given funding cuts and reduction in police numbers) but it would add to the disability hate-crime statistics. If other disabled people in the UK report issues too, eventually the weight of cases can lead to police forces focusing more resources on this issue.

Hope the rest of your UK visit is pain and pain-in-the-ass free.

Unknown said...

Kinda seems as though at some point this man had experienced some training in self advocacy (that helpers are supposed to ask first to see if their help is needed or wanted) or that the behavior of inappropriately doing something for others that might not be welcome was something he had struggled with, and had been helped by learning to remind himself to 'ask first'....
it's a good phrase to a nurse the role of 'helping' 'doing' 'fixing' can be so imperative that remembering to slow down and 'ask first' what the patient would like help with, or what kind of 'help' would be useful, is a good one...
i'm getting to an age where I seem to need very short succinct phrases to help me keep my balance - such as STOP (when verbally assaulted by pt/family - to stop what i am doing, take a deep breath, observe the reactions in my body, and then proceed with responding to what just happened - or HALT - don't get too HungryAngryLonelyTired, or you will lose your balance in the way you interact with the world.
Ask first - I can remember that....take good care, Joe and Dave.

ABEhrhardt said...

So frustrating when others cause pain you wouldn't have experienced.

"Ask first." So easy. So forgotten. So essential.

Unknown said...

Could not agree more. ASK FIRST. So simple. All too often forgotten.