Climbing mountains

Katrina Dorrian by Katrina Dorrian Additional Needs

Katrina Dorrian

Katrina Dorrian

Hi! I'm Katrina, I have 8yr old triplets; one who has spina bifida, hydrocephalus and epilepsy. I also have MS, so we've a busy (but happy) house!

Climbing mountains

We’ve all been there.

You need to go to an appointment in the hospital and instead of just walking in, you have to negotiate wheelchair access for your child.

Or even a new parent having to now manage a pram in a world designed for able bodied people.

Our little man is a full time wheelchair user so we have to work out where the ramps etc are instead of just “walking into” the appointment.

That’s our life and it doesn’t bother me in itself, but whenever the access is poor, I feel a hurt bubbling up in me that is very unpleasant.

Jacob recently had an appointment in a hospital which we have been to before, so I felt relaxed about the access.

I’d hurt my back so was very grateful that we now have a wheelchair accessible car so I don’t have to lift our 18kg boy into his middle car seat (he’s a triplet and for some reason it’s the only way the seats fit).

The problem was a broken lift at the entrance.

I tried to ring the department so someone could come out and help me but there was no answer.

I felt panicked and angry all at once because he needed the test done, but how could I get him in?

There was no other choice but to lift him out of his chair, climb the eight stairs, then go back and get his wheelchair to drag it up.

Thankfully there was a chair at the top that I could use to sit him on while I went back for his chair.

I genuinely felt so hurt for Jacob that he couldn’t just walk up the stairs.

It stirs up feelings of sadness that your child is a wheelchair user so will face these obstacles for the rest of his life. It doesn’t feel fair.

My back was very sore at that point and as someone with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I can honestly say that I felt every single step.

That small staircase felt like a mountain.

When I got into the department I told the receptionist their lift was broken which they apparently knew!

I was so angry, how could they know it was broken and not even put a sign up?!

You don’t see roads blocked without diversions in place, yet this broken lift would affect so many people with mobility problems with no alternative access being offered.

The dismissive response from the receptionist made me so angry.

Why couldn’t he see that it was totally unacceptable to ignore the fact the lift was broken?

You wouldn’t lock the doors then expect able bodied people to find their own way in, so why do it to people with mobility problems?

As a mum to my amazing little man who is a wheelchair user, I have to try and balance making him aware of his right to have access against making him “bitter” about not being able to climb these mountains.

He needs to be annoyed enough to fight for his rights yet not allow this to become something that will damage his mental health.

There will always be places that can’t be made 100% accessible, but a hospital should most certainly not be one.

For now, we’ll do what we always try to and simply tackle each mountain as it comes!


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