It took some work but we managed to replace the footrest on my chair. We found a company, Reliable Medical Supply who were able to assist us quickly, easily, and without fuss. I rode out of the building, the new footrest on and I felt completely restored. I’d ridden around pushing and holding my one leg up at the same time for a couple days and as a result had pulled muscles in my back and tired those in my leg. I had to ask Joe to push me a couple of times, but only when, on break, I had to get to the bathroom quickly.

At the end of the day we went to a very large grocery store that, miraculously, wasn’t busy. I set to doing a very long push, up and down every aisle and back and forth across the store. I needed to exercise but I also needed to feel in control again. It was great. I knew I’d done a long distance, I had tired myself out, and I knew sleep would come easily.

There was a moment though that I wanted to tell you about. We’ve forgotten our blue badge so we can’t park in wheelchair parking. It had been raining so Joe let me off at the door and, though there was quite a up slope into the store, I knew that I could do it easily. I was pushing up when a customer coming in ran at me, arms out, ready to inflict help upon me. I didn’t see her coming.

I did hear a voice saying, “Don’t, he didn’t ask!” When I got to the top I looked back to see a young woman with Down Syndrome, standing watching me. She stayed and waited until I was up the slope and in the store. I thanked her.

She said, “I hate it when people just help me. It’s just another way to call me stupid and helpless.” I told her that she was right. I didn’t like the message behind unasked for help.

Ban the ‘R’ word in speech and in action.

Ban the helpless image in speech and in action.

Speak with respect, act with respect, it’s all that anyone really wants.

Even us.

Especially us.