A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A YOUNG WAG OF SCI AND WORKING LONDON PARAPLEGIC: By Bianca Schwerin
Our abilities don’t define us, and neither do our disabilities. We all go about our day differently although we also all kind of go about it the same way. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Our day almost always starts with a BEEP BEEP BEEP at 6am, a hit of the snooze button (twice) and our final BEEP BEEP BEEP before we’re up and out of bed, although maybe not that cheerily…
We’re both independent so we do our bathroom routine and dressing by ourselves, however I do wish he was more independent when it came to making breakfast and lunch, I seem to have volunteered for that job and it kinda just stuck (conveniently)!
There’s always a kiss at the door and we head off to work using different ways of commuting on the Transport for London network until we see each other again at 7:30pm after work!
Then, you know, the usual, watch series, eat dinner, have a bath and into bed where I’m probably up 2 or 3 times in the night because he’s having such a good night sleep that he’s snoring up a storm. But nothing a little elbow punch can’t fix 😉
But what’s probably most interesting is what happens after the kiss in the morning and getting home in the evening.
So I documented the day in the life of a working paraplegic in London, pieced together over a few days.
He kisses me goodbye at 7am and makes his way to the lift in our building. We live in a block of flats with 2 lifts, of which one is often broken, but it beats our old block of flats that only had one lift that was constantly broken and resulted in me having to lift him up and down 3 flights of stairs every day. We can’t wait until one day we can buy and customize our own home.
He then pushes himself (uphill) about 0.1 miles to the bus stop and boards the bus. London busses are all equipped with a ramp that spits out upon request to the driver. It’s really great that this form of public transport is accessible to all and allows wheelchair users to travel all over London. With the use of a Freedom Pass this travel is also free within London. However this space is often used by mums with babies in prams, and although it’s clearly marked and sign posted all over the area that it is a wheelchair priority area, the struggle is real when it comes to actually being able to board the bus and sit in this space. Bust mostly, it’s great!
He then travels about 15 minutes on the bus to the nearest underground station and boards the Underground train into the city. The London Underground is slowly improving it’s accessibility for wheelchair users, and although most stations are really old and without lifts, a lot of changes are being made to accommodate wheelchairs.
He sits in the wheelchair priority area, once again that’s only if the looking-down-cellphone-obsessed-travellers give up their seats in this area for him to sit in which means he’s securely up against a back board in the train as well as out of the way of busy travellers, and travels into the city where the station right outside his work is accessible.
And then it’s sitting at a desk, meetings, etc for most of the day until he repeats the mornings commute in reverse.
On Tuesdays he plays tennis at the National Tennis Center where they run a group practice once a week for wheelchair tennis players of all abilities and levels in the game, run by a fabulous coach and a great group of people. I usually tag along to help carry his tennis bags and push him up the hill to the tennis center and I enjoy watching his progression every week.
We don’t have many other activities on during the week, but we like to head out to the shops (yay for not having to stand in the queue), watch a film (yay for only having to purchase 1 ticket) or take in the London parks, river and city on the weekends.
I guess my life as a WAG of SCI isn’t much different to any other WAG, and I know we’re lucky in the sense that there aren’t constant hospital trips, rehab, and physical caring needs in our life. Although we may have a very normal routine, we still face similar obstacles that you do, for example the constant stares, the non-working lifts, the inaccessible restaurants that our company or friends have booked a lunch at, the insulting questions from passers-by and the frustration that we can’t do every single thing.
But we try our best to do everything we can, even if it’s done differently. We try our best to smile at the stares, to grab a takeaway and enjoy each other, to re-route our travel so that we can travel, and to educate as many as we can about life with SCI when an insult is passed our way.
We live life to the full. To our full. - Bianca