Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Da Wife on Wheels Dismissed Yet Again

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 11:58 pm on Saturday, August 29, 2009

Being a married couple with both of us with cerebral palsy, there are times when one needs to move aside to allow In someone more capable. And, sometimes that means one of us must go it alone.

Last Monday, when we called for an ambulance because Darrell’s pneumonia wasn’t getting any better on the antibiotics prescribed during the previous Thursday’s trip to the emergency room (ER), the paramedics essentially dismissed da wife on wheels. Only one of them stopped to ask if I’d be okay while the others wheeled away my husband and took the time to understand when I asked, “Which hospital?”

For two days in the ER, I was constantly moving out of the way because there was no room for my scooter. The closest I could get to my husband was the foot-end of the stretcher.

Even once he was moved to a room, there were IV stands, bed tables and curtains to contend with. The only physical contact I had with my husband for the first few days was to rub his feet, which he hates, but it was the only body parts I could reach.

Yet, like any loving and concerned wife, I have made the 9 or 10-block trek on Surrey’s sucky sidewalks, hoping this hospital escapade doesn’t kill this scooter like it did last year, every day except for the day prior to my WordCamp presentation.

Today, on my trek up, I was thinking that if a nurse could be present, as required, while Darrell transferred from the bed into his power wheelchair, then we could downstairs to the cafeteria for a frozen cappuccino or, at least, go outside for some fresh air. I figured this was something we could do together as husband and wife, with minimal effort.

Once Darrell was safely in his chair, he informed the nurse that we were going down to the cafeteria. She flipped!

“No, you must go with a relative.”

“She’s my wife.”

“No, wait for your parents. What if something happens? She is incapable. You’d have go down in the elevator. No. Stay on this floor. Wheel around in the halls.“

WTF? Incapable? Of using the elevator? What could happen to Darrell, strapped into his chair? We’re only going to the cafeteria, for pete’s sake! Besides, I know how to yell for help if I need to!

Without knowing anything about me, except that I use a scooter and that she can’t understand my speech, she, a professional trained and caring nurse, labeled me incapable. She has no clue what I am capable of or how Darrell and I work together as husband and wife. She has no clue about the adventures we have been on or the trips we’ve made. I didn’t see taking the elevator down one floor as an insurmountable excursion!

When I took my marriage vows, no where did I say “…only if others deem me capable…”. Loving my husband means not putting him (or me) at risk, particularly while he is still in hospital recovering from pneumonia. If I didn’t think he could stay upright while driving his chair a few hundred feet and then suck back something other than water or apple juice, I would not have suggested such a risky proposition!

For today, we were good disabled people and didn’t go out of bounds. Tomorrow, Darrell’s mommy and daddy will hold his hands while we go downstairs. That will make the nurse happy…then Darrell and I will make a run for it!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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26 Comments »

Comment by Joanna Young

August 30, 2009 @ 1:38 am

Glenda, what a powerful post – you made me feel sadness, fury, rage, frustration and pride in equal measure.

I hope the staff in the hospital get to read it some day too, and think hard about how they treat people.

Comment by Emma

August 30, 2009 @ 5:15 am

That is so offensive it makes me feel physically sick. May I, politely and respectfully [and with the understanding and acceptance that you may think it a stupid idea !] suggest that you print off this post and deliver it to the ward manager, or whoever it is you feel should see it. People need to be pushed into thinking about, and then hopefully changing, their attitudes.
I would have had problems stopping myself thumping her ! That’s a universal language, after all ! ;0)
[Yes, I know violence isn't the answer, but sometimes it's very tempting !]

Comment by Darrell Shandrow

August 30, 2009 @ 5:39 am

Yikes! I’m just wondering why you two don’t fight back against such ridiculousness? Isn’t it important to educate folks about these issues? Could you speak with the nurses’s boss, that person’s boss or even the director of the hospital if necessary? If that doesn’t work, how about the local media? Certainly, they ultimately have to leave the two of you alone to do whatever you wish if you insist don’t they? I know Canada has disability rights legislation on the books. What does it say, if anything, to issues of this nature? This really chaps my hide! Karen and I never accept this sort of dehumanizing behavior, and folks tend to find themselves in lots of hot water if they try and persist. Let’s just say this is a pretty bad economy to find you’ve lost your job or something because of us… :-) I have absolutely no sympathy for people like this; they should know better than to mess with us because we’re disabled and they think they can. I do everything I can to exact consequences on such idiocy.

Comment by Mary McDonald, The Integration Doctor

August 30, 2009 @ 6:50 am

Hi Glenda,

How terribly frustrating for you! I agree that you should print out this post and deliver it to the ‘powers that be’ at the hospital. To a) talk about you like you’re not there; b) label you; and c) not take the time to understand before making her proclamation is inexcusable. Give ‘em hell, Red!

Comment by Loree

August 30, 2009 @ 7:27 am

GRRRRR! I agree, “give ‘em hell, Red!”

Comment by Cynthia H

August 30, 2009 @ 7:37 am

Glenda, I agree with Joanna – this was a powerful post and brought up many emotions for me as well!

I also think that delivering a copy of this post to decision makers at the hospital is an excellent idea. I’d even go so far as to make sure that every member of their Board gets a copy.

I would not only suggest awareness training for ALL staff members, I’d also add a note asking for changes that would allow/facilitate physical contact for patients and families who are in similar situations. Do the bedside tables really need to be in the way during a visit? Can’t the curtains be tied back or moved out of the way? Can’t just one side of the bed be kept free of obstacles? It would take so little to provide such a simple, necessary thing as physical contact with those you love!

Wishing you and Darryl an amazing, fun adventure when you escape from his floor – even if it is only to the cafeteria!

Comment by Amy

August 30, 2009 @ 7:38 am

Glenda,

Absolutely, I agree with the others that you should let the hospital administrator know – starting with a copy of this post. Sadly, there are still people out there with very narrow and distorted views of us, and the best thing we can do is to let them know that their actions are hurting us and not helping. Thank you for giving your rant a voice. Let’s hope the administrator listens and follows up.

Comment by Sharon/ Nanna J

August 30, 2009 @ 7:40 am

Oh my GOODNESS! That is so totally messed up!!!!
I agree, I hope you print this and take it to someone in charge. That is so wrong! How does she think you got to the hospital in the first place? I know how capable you are, just from our one visit and talking.
You go get em Glenda!

Comment by Cheryl

August 30, 2009 @ 8:39 am

I would have gone down there anyway…

Comment by MJ Ankenman

August 30, 2009 @ 8:54 am

What shameful behaviour. Someone needs a wake up call! My question too would be can she really stop you?

Comment by Ed

August 30, 2009 @ 10:59 am

Who do you think you are anyway?
A capable wife? How dare you?!
Hehe! :-)
Well done once again lady!

{Glenda, perhaps you should assemble some pictures, text, and links as a summary to show folks some of the activities
you were “too disabled” to do this past year ;-) }

Comment by Raul

August 30, 2009 @ 11:10 am

Wow, what an amazing post. Glenda, I echo the sentiments of everyone. Please print off a copy of this post and deliver it to the hospital. These assholes need to be trained in sensitivity, awareness sand empathy.

Comment by Laura

August 30, 2009 @ 11:24 am

Bravo!

You have amazing strength, and you just gave us a wonderful gift by sharing it.

Its so frustrating that people are treated this way. Share your story with the powers that be at the hospital. They need to know what ignorant people they have employed.

Apparently some members of their staff needs to be retrained.

Well done.

Comment by Grant Griffiths

August 30, 2009 @ 11:41 am

Glenda – My heart goes out to you both. One of our sons, Cole has what has been labeled mild CP, mainly on his right side. He is 24 now and very capable of doing just about anything he wants and still he knows his limits. While he has short term memory issues and has no sense of directions, time or money, he is very capable of holding down a job.

We live in a small rural community in Kansas and two years ago he was fired from his job at one of the local grocery stores because the bosses’ daughter had her head up her ass. Cole warned her not to put large bottles of water in her cart. Not heeding his advice, she took them out of the store and ended up falling trying to keep the cart from overturning. Of course Cole was blamed and fired.

He has applied for other jobs in our town over the last two years and wouldn’t you know, no one will give him a chance. They don’t come right out and say it, but they will not hire him because they have deems him incapable of doing anything.

It is so frustrating to see how people react and in turn discount people based on what they perceive as their ability or as they see it, lack thereof.

Keep up the good fight Glenda. You are an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for being the individual you are.

Grant

Comment by Jacqui & Rylan

August 30, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

Everyone else has said something wise and inspiring…all I can think of is next time you run into her you should really “run into her”. I mean if you aren’t capable of taking your hubby for a treat then I can only imagine that there are times when you aren’t able to control your scooter. *devil grin* Give em hell my friend!

Jacqui

Comment by Glenda

August 30, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

Thank you everyone for your wonderful support. Your words are helping to fortify my polite-self as I prepare to trek up to the hospital yet again.

I have printed out this blog post. I’ll let Darrell read it first, then decide what to next. Having all of you behind me is giving me strength. Thank you.

Comment by Glenda

August 30, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

Grant, I’m sorry to hear that your son Cole is also struggling with such “unenlightened” souls. No doubt if someone would believe in him and give him an opportunity, he would soar beyond people’s wildest imagination.

Please give him a hug from me and tell him that I can appreciate the struggles he’s facing but to not give up. One day, the right opportunity will come along or he will create the right opportunity, then all those people will eat his dust!

Comment by Karen Lynn

August 30, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

Hi Glenda,
Isn’t It WONDERFUL how we have to be “good little robots” because they don’t understand!
We have to give up everything and learn to manuever throughhout the system or pretend to play games because they do not know how to treat us like human beings. All because we have C.P. What is truly wong with the picture here, and how can we change these hurtful experiences. I’m with you girlfriend!

Comment by S Emerson

August 30, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

“….then Darrell and I will make a run for it! ”

Go for it!

Comment by Douglas T

August 31, 2009 @ 6:19 am

“No, wait for your parents.”? Shameful. She should know better.

Comment by Samantha

August 31, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

Wow – that would really piss me off, but your last paragraph made me smile. Make a run for it!!! Do eet! :)

Comment by James Everybodys Mobility

March 17, 2010 @ 9:09 am

This was a great read. Thanks!

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