I don’t know if you are one of life’s fighters or a reconciler? I do both. I think most of us do, some of the time at least. I am as fierce as a caged lioness when I’m upset by injustice involving others. I’m in there when there’s anything I feel I can do. I’m a suckling kitten when it comes to fighting my own corner however. One of life’s avoiders. I’d rather turn and walk away than stand and fight. It’s not a fear that I won’t win. I’m deeply unattached to competitiveness. (I find it a major turn off if I’m honest.) It’s more that my inner dialogue can be insistent that there are much more deserving ’causes’ to engage with than me and my small world needs.
Looking back, to my shame, I’ve abandoned some potentially important fights; injustice and discrimination in the Church and workplace bullying to name two. I regret that. These days my sense of self is stronger. I no longer worry what people will think. Perhaps I have less to lose? Or not so much to prove? Sometimes I have to stand up (or in my case sit down) and be counted.
The fight has begun. I need a new NHS powered chair. I can’t afford to buy the sort of chair I’d need as a priest and for my day to day needs – so while I manage with volunteer ‘pushers’ (not in the conventional use of the word – I really do mean to push me about and supply coffee and nibbles only) I am fighting to get what I believe will make me much less of a drain on social care and NHS resources in the longer term.
Towards the end of last year the devastating news that I was not eligible for a replacement powered chair through NHS Highland knocked me for six. I had been selected for training as a powered chair user for my third guide dog. I can’t walk far enough to use a dog as I used to. It was an obvious solution to regain full independence and get on with my life.
As a strong empathiser, I have to say I was in trouble. Frankly, I wondered who really had the worst case of myopia. I couldn’t understand why some in wheelchair services entirely ‘got’ the concept of a wheelchair guide dog user and others, simply blocked all attempts to engage with me as a person with more than one disability in a creative way that would lead to greater independence. It reminded me forcibly of that wonderful ‘Little Britain’ sketch when the computer says ‘No’. The guidelines say you need to have good enough sight to drive to have an NHS powered chair. Um…
Guide Dogs have been astonishingly supportive. They have Guide Dog users with NHS powered chairs preparing to train or trained in England and Wales. So why is Scotland different?