vendredi, mars 21, 2008

If you were in a wheelchair... part 5

  1. A wheelchair is worth its weight in gold and although it looks like some unbreakable object, you actually need to handle it with care. I’ve learnt this lesson unwillingly thanks to an air travel company. People who handle luggage don’t seem to make a difference between a suitcase and a wheelchair. When I was waiting for my wheelchair upon arrival, it was handed to me in a rather sad state. I had to take a cab home with my suitcase, my damaged and useless wheelchair and a tank (an uncontrollable wheelchair) that was kindly lent to me at the airport. The privilege of going home with all these goods came after a long negotiation without which I would probably still be sitting at the terminal. Here’s a message to luggage handlers, please handle our wheelchairs with care, they do cost a lot. I was never given any compensation for the cab fee as, according to the company, they have no obligation to reimburse costs brought about by mishandling of a piece of luggage (my wheelchair being in this case considered as such one piece).
  2. I have a passion for paved streets. Happily today we still find a large number of paved streets in France … It unquestionably adds charm to the street, but it is an experience equal to martyrdom for anyone in a wheelchair who dares to venture on these streets. Indeed, if you’re not cautious enough, the front wheels can get stuck between paving stones, and off you go!
  3. One day in Paris , I was waiting for the bus like any other regular Parisian. I was happy to see the bus arrive and prepared myself to get on, or rather jump on it I should say. This particular bus was unfortunately not adapted, but with some help, or occasionally on my own, I usually manage to embark for my journeys. But on that day, the driver had no intention to let me on and advised me to wait for the next one. The next one, what a joke… That one was not a direct bus and I would have had to change and ride through the whole city to reach my destination. In the end, I had to drag my suitcase all the way to another bus stop.

     

I heard that accessibility facilities would not be provided for in subway stations, given the amount of investment needed. The Parisian railway network company (RATP) consequently relies on the bus network.

 

vendredi, mars 14, 2008

If you were in a wheelchair... part 4

  1. Last week's paragraph leads me to talk about handicap itself, at least as much as I know about it. There are different degrees in handicap according to which names vary. First we can distinguish tetraplegia from paraplegia. Tetraplegia concerns a four-limb paralysis, generally meaning a cervical lesion. The further down the lesion is on the spinal column, the « closer » you are to paraplegia which is a lower limbs paralysis. Tetraplegia, along with paraplegia, can be total or partial; which means that two paraplegics having the same kind of lesion can have different sensitivity and motricity. Welcome inside the human body…
  2. How to manoeuvre your wheelchair is a very important thing that you are taught during your first weeks in re-education. This is when you learn to do some « wheeling », which consists in lifting up the front wheels. You can use that to show off, but more importantly it often proves useful to overcome the obstacles of the concrete jungle. To do that, you simply need to find your centre of gravity, which varies from one chair to the next… Get your figures wrong and you’ll fall backwards (potentially opening the way to a multitude of accidents) or ahead if your chair stumbles over something. When this happens, you just need to catch yourself in time and with style, so as to keep up appearances...
  3. There are a lot of different types of tyres you can use for wheelchairs, but mainly you get two categories: hard ones and air tyres. With hard ones, any little bump or jump on the pavement will make your spine wince up to the neck, however they don’t get punctured and last longer. In my opinion air tyres are much more comfortable, but they have one main flaw: they get flat. When you happen to be on a street with what looks like leftovers from the celebration of a football match, be sure you’ll have to improvise some sort of rough mending. And when that happens twice in a row, you wonder whether it wouldn’t have been better for you just to stay at home.

vendredi, mars 07, 2008

If you were in a wheelchair... part 3

Dear readers,


Let's go further with those short stories.

  1. Nowadays, a lot of people use the term “handicapped”, or “crippled” as a “gentle” insult. “Cooking cripple”, “driving cripple”, “love cripple” or even just “cripple”. It appears that we handicapped people are constantly at the centre of debates… If this is the case the number of handicapped people will be rising by the minute. However something that I’ve never heard is “leg cripple”.  Probably out of respect :-)  
  2. It’s been a few years now that people in wheelchairs have had, like any valid person, the possibility to go to the cinema. The rather limited choice of seat remains a problem. You either have to be in the front row which will guarantee you a free of charge stiff neck, especially if you stay in your wheelchair; or, depending on how the room is, you’ll have to go to the dunces’ row, at the other end of the theatre. You simply can’t sit wherever you want, just like any other person.
  3. It’s one thing to be sitting all day in your wheelchair, and as soon as you get the chance and depending on the level of your handicap, you’ll want to jump out of it. Be it on a couch, in a nice seat at the cinema, a nice and comfy armchair or on some soft and green grass, any excuse will do (well, that’s my opinion).

vendredi, février 29, 2008

If you were in a wheelchair... part 2

Dear readers,

This week, I would like to share with you some comical and some less comical aspects of a life in a wheelchair. Some of these little things make me laugh and I hope it will be the same for you.

  1. As you go down the street, you’re constantly inspecting the pavement, just like any valid person, in order to avoid the dejections of man’s best friend. In a wheelchair, you don’t walk, you roll and your feet won’t be the ones to get all sticky with this stinky substance, your hands will.
  2. When you find yourself queuing in a supermarket, people sometimes offer you to get in front of them, which saves me time, although I’m perfectly able to wait in line like most people. But it’s hard to forgive people who use priority checkouts because they are less crowded, especially when they do not pay any attention to you. In certain shops, they are often the only ones you can go through with a wheelchair.
  3. Being in a wheelchair can be a fantastic and strategic weapon if you go to a bar or to a party. Actually, girls regularly want to sit on my lap, which triggers the curiosity of some and the respect of others. Naturally I’m not complaining, just simply sympathizing with the valid who don’t have this – call it what you want – chance or charm. A wheelchair can also bring some good about…

See you next friday for some new adventures...

lundi, février 25, 2008

The word handicapped

Do you know where the word 'handicap" comes from ? 

It comes from the English expression "hand in cap" which was a game where one would compete for personal objects whose price will be determined by a referee, the waging will then be put in a cap. Through years "hand in cap" was applied to sport and was transformed to "handicap". This new word reflects the will to give an equal chance to competitors by imposing added difficulties to the best competitor.

The word handicapped has, depending on the countries, different meanings. This difference in meanings reflects the fact that people perceive and integrate handicapped people in their own way depending on their country of origin. Northern Europe countries for instance are known to better accept handicapped within their society. Will my project confirm this hypothesis?

According to the French law of February 2005, is considered a handicap everything that limits you in terms of activity or that restrains your participation to life within society because of a substantial, lasting or definitive alteration of one or more of your functions. These functions can be physical, sensory, mental….

Being in a wheelchair, a handicap? Steps are a hassle, any doorstep makes it difficult, social integration is modified and chances to get a job are reduced. To think about the difficulties met by handicapped is already trying to reduce his handicap.

Today almost 10% of the French population says to live with a handicap, more than 40 millions within Europe . This figure is increasing because of the increase of life expectancy.

You are not handicapped today, enjoy, it could happen to you when you become older, think about it! Knowing what being handicapped means, I want to try to reduce the chances for your to know this situation, I will tell you how soon.

Departure: D-93

If you were in a wheelchair... part 1

This entry is the first of a series of articles that will constitute a new column. It will be published every Friday and will deal - in a humorous way I hope – with all the little anecdotes that make up for the daily life of a person in a wheel chair.

  1. When you run over someone else’s foot (unintentionally, of course) this person will apologize 99% of the time. The funniest being when it is completely my fault. The person gets rolled over his or her foot by more than 90 kilos (200 pounds) (yes, the chair is much heavier than what it looks like), suffers incredible pain and finds a way to apologize profusely.
  2. As you are going downhill, the chair often dashes at top speed on its own. This proved to be quite dangerous once. I was going down a mountain road, near Voss in Norway , a road I had found very steep the day before as I was going up in taxi. The way down was vertiginous (well it was to me) and the speed I was going at quite out of the ordinary, and I realized at the last minute that there were logs over the road which went across the pavement (you know one of those things to stop the cattle). I had to slow down with my full hands, put my tendons through a lot of pain, in order to be able to stop just before this « wheel chair trap ». It was really close, and I think that if I hadn’t stopped at all I would have a broken jaw by now, to say the least.
  3. When you want to go clubbing, the bouncer, through compassion or pity, often lets you in for free. I’m not complaining ! But the other side of the coin is when they don’t let you in at all. This becomes truly intolerable when the bouncer (this happened in Rotterdam ) tells you that you may go in at the sole condition to leave your wheel chair behind and to sort things out yourself with your legs. This is a true story that I can now relate with humour.

These are the first of long series of articles.

See you next Friday for some new adventures !

lundi, février 18, 2008

Will on Wheels

Today, I will introduce you to the association « Will on Wheels » that has just been created and that will allow us to get the project going. Here is the story of the association.

A young, 17 years old teenager, sport’s freak with a very strong will that loves adventures and nature. Too young and still uncertain about what he wants to do, he knows what he does not want to do. Not being alone, not being dependant and not being driven by others.

Monotonous, apathy, repetition and hypocrisy are terms to be banned in his presence.

An accident puts his vision of the future and the foundations of his life, upside down. How can life go on when you lost the only thing that allows you to run, walk, climb mountains, play football, seduce, be human. It is like pulling the rug from under his feet, that same rug that you enjoyed fouling for its warmth, softness and coziness when touching it with your feet. You need, to find a new meaning to "motion" and "live", to relearn every day moves, to learn how to roll down the streets, to stand the staring of others and to learn how to wake up every morning with unusual difference.

Since, many years have passed; with loads of surprises and deceptions, but one always find his path again.

The young 17 years old teenager is gone but a new man, that has decided to drive his life once again, has come back.

Today the wheels of his wheelchair help him to move around, they turn amazingly fast with the same speed as his new and stronger will – "Will on Wheels".

Departure : D-100

lundi, février 11, 2008

The project: an idea, a concept, a good cause

254616775.JPG

Paris Nordkapp that is 4650 kilometers with a handbike plus 2500 with a car

Paris Nordkapp that is 5 Northern Europe capital cities in 90 days (Copenhagen, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris ) 


Paris Nordkapp is an adventure

Paris Nordkapp is also a blog with photos, videos, comments, a lot of emotions and a noble gesture.

 

When:

Departure from Paris on June 3rd and arrival in Paris on August 31st

How:

With a handbike


Why:

- To collect funds for the spinal cord research

- A physical and a mental challenge

- To draw the attention of the public around the topic of mobility


Who:

A paraplegic along with a whole team of volunteers
 

Departure: D-107

Should you wish to have more details concerning this project, I would gladly send more information on the topic.