There are many things I have learned to do again, albeit differently, since my spinal surgery 15 months ago.
It seems, however, that stairs are still my nemesis. I can manage one or two steps if I go slowly and carefully but, as I discovered tonight, walking up a whole flight of stairs still causes me significant pain.
We went out for dinner with friends, who had booked at a first floor restaurant that had no elevator. It did, however, have a beautiful circular staircase.
Beautiful… and an enormous challenge.
I went very slowly, but by the fifth or sixth stair my lower back was screaming. Before I got to the top, I could feel the sciatic pain in my butt and staring to extend down my legs. I couldn’t stay there, so I had to either keep going or go back down. Slower still, and even more carefully, I made it to the top.
The first thing I did was hit my friends up for whatever analgesics they had. One had ibuprofen, the other had paracetamol. I took both, as my doctors have instructed me to do when I need to. I also chose not to sit until my meal was delivered, even though standing up in a large room of diners made me feel very self-conscious.
It didn’t help that some people were quite obvious about the way they looked at me – and all I was doing was standing up. Once again, it reminded me of how much harder it must be for those whose differences or disabilities are more obviously noticeable.
Dinner was delicious, but as soon as I had finished, I stood up again. We took the rear door out of the pub, as it opened onto the driveway. Even through it was quite a slope, it was still easier than the stairs.
It’s disappointing that the establishment had not been more thoughtful about accessibility. An assumption that everyone who visits is able-bodied enough to use the stairs is ignorant at best. Perhaps if there were a “disabled access” sign pointing to the rear of the building, I might have been able to enjoy my meal and the great company without either kind of discomfort. I cannot imagine I am the only person who would benefit from that,
And, if you’re ever out for dinner and there’s someone standing up for most of the evening, or doing anything else out of the ordinary, just know they have their reasons and be kind enough to pretend you haven’t noticed.