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The Extra Questions I Must Ask in Life With a Disability


Becoming disabled has led to me needing to make a list of extra questions, decisions and action plans — for major life changes and for small everyday things.

I recently bought a condo, after fighting for three years to be healthy enough to once again live on my own. When looking for a place I thought about the “normal things.” Price, size, location. But I also had to ask, how many stairs does it have? Is the bathroom on the same floor as my bedroom? Is the shower big enough for the shower chair? It had to have a garage because Midwest winters are too dangerous for me to not have one. How far is it from my parents’ place? Or either of my brothers’ homes?

When I found and bought my condo, I had extra keys made for everyone who I would call if I fall, if I get stuck on the stairs or if I get sick. When I set the garage code I gave it to those same people. People in town I would call to once again help save my life.

It’s also about small decisions. Using a walker means I can’t push a shopping cart at the grocery store. Luckily the local grocery stores have pickup programs, where I can order groceries on my phone and just pull up and have them placed in my car. But if I just need a few things and am going to go to the store alone, I have to look at the weather. Is it raining, snowing or windy? The malnutrition left me using a walker with balance problems. If I go to the store, will I be able to get from my car to the store? How busy will it be?

I can’t go to the mall on the weekends alone; the overstimulation is too much for me. The noise, the crowds, the lights. Will I make two small trips this week to get things from the local store? Will I wait until I have enough need to do grocery pull up at the store?

Whenever I go somewhere new I have to find out how close we will be to the bathroom, to sidewalks instead of grass, to having someplace to sit. When we travel more than 30 minutes out of town I find out where the nearest hospital/urgent care is located. At this point, after three years of using a walker and being in recovery from malnutrition, these daily living, “normal questions” and disability questions are automatic. What do I need to do to make my life safer?

Getty image by Roman Babakin.