THE DISABLED SPACE: Wheels are key to new world

First published in Columns Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

I WASN'T born disabled but acquired my disability following a road accident.

My days of rowing, cycling, hiking, climbing mountains and travelling the world were suddenly behind me; just memories, but ones to be treasured.

I needed to rethink my future rather than waste my life looking back.

True, it was not the life I wanted but it was the one I had. So I put a geranium in my hat and went on my merry way.

I couldn’t possibly have imagined what surprises, disappointments and challenges I’d meet. On the other hand, the challenges I came across and how I dealt with them will, I hope, be an inspiration to others.

A change of lifestyle might be a disappointment but it is not a disaster.

I was born with a determined streak, as my family and friends will tell you, so I started off on this new life with a positive outlook.

But keeping my independence occupied my mind for some time.

Encouraged by my family, I explored the possibility of buying a mobility scooter. The choice was wide and confusing. What did I actually want or need? Size, ease of dismantling, battery size, three wheels or four, what should it be?

Eventually I opted for a small three-wheel model as I found this version much easier to manoeuvre.

A few train and bus operators only take three-wheelers, saying four-wheelers cannot get into the wheelchair space. There is a feeling the three-wheeler is less stable but I have only fallen off once or twice. And that was due to driver error. I only lost my dignity but the scooter shows the battle scars; held together sticky tape, it boasts dents and cracks but still obeys me. What a friend!

My advice for scooter perusers is: carefully weigh up what you want. Oxfordshire Unlimited offers tips; call 0845 121 4112.

So, armed with this newfound freedom, what did I do with it?

The handbook said the battery could do eight miles so I set off for the city; at four miles an hour it took me an hour, but what a feeling of achievement!

I’m afraid my confidence didn’t go as far as trusting the battery to last the journey home so a call at Shopmobility was a safe option. They topped me up while I tripped around the city on one of their scooters. What a service.

If you have a mobility difficulty, Shopmobility is the place to go. You will find a variety of aids to borrow and advice from the helpful and pleasant staff. (Call 01865 248737.) Have I encouraged you to be adventurous?

I hope so.

There is an exciting and interesting world ready and waiting for you.

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