One night only (Part 2)

Saturday night I got hardly any sleep as I wrestled with the shower room situation. The room layout consisted of a massive rectangular room (longest length from side to side as you look from the door) with the door on the far right hand side. It was that big you could have easily got a single bed in there and still have had enough room to wheel around. In the far left hand corner on the back wall was the toilet that had grab rails on both sides which was fine. What wasn’t so fine was the wash basin, I use that term loosely, which was a teeny tiny thing on the wall between two grab handles on the left wall in front the toilet. It was that small it would have been inhumane to keep a goldfish in it but the problems didn’t end there. There was no plug and even if there was one there was no hole to put it in, the plughole was flush to the bottom of the basin. Opposite the door near the rear wall on the right hand wall was a shower, I call it a shower but it was basically a thin pipe on the wall with shower head and button. Everything else and I mean everything else around it was totally bare, no grab rails, wall seat or shower chair, nothing. There is no way I could have managed a shower not even with the plastic chair we found, it was dangerous and not a risk I was willing to take. I may have persevered if there had been a decent sink and tried to manage with strip washes but with the water fountain I had, that wasn’t and option either. As it turned out when I tried to have a wash on Sunday morning there was no way of holding the water in the sink and the water was cold. To get lukewarm water you had to turn the tap on fully which resulted in so much pressure that if you put a flannel under it the water stot over the side of the sink. There was also no bedside light which meant that I had to turn the bedroom light off by the door and negotiate the wheelchair to the bed in the pitch black, avoiding the wardrobe and being careful not to catch my knuckles or legs on anything.

At about three o’clock on the morning I finally made the agonising decision that I would go home, I was gutted.  In the morning I was going to text the Acting CEO to ask for a chat when another decision clincher emerged. I had absolutely no phone signal what so ever so, if I had fallen I would not be able to let anyone know. There was only a pull cord in the shower room and not the bedroom, although there was a phone in the room on the desk it would have been better to keep it on the floor so if I fell I could try and crawl to reach it. When I got out of the building I arranged to meet the Acting CEO at County HQ to have a chat. While I was waiting the two Padre’s turned up and when I told them I had to leave I got quite upset. I am a complete atheist but the Padre’s are both brilliant and sometimes it is just good to have someone to talk too. It’s in situations like this that it just hits you a bit hard sometimes and how tough being an amputee can be. I wouldn’t change things though as I couldn’t go back to how it was before and as hard and frustrating it can get at times I have no regrets. I was a bit angry to start with because if I had seen a photo of the room or known the layout I wouldn’t have gone to camp. After thinking about it though I just put it down to being one of those things and another lesson learnt. When County went on the camp recce I had only just had the surgery done and they had no idea how mobile I would have been when camp came round. They also wouldn’t know that even if you are running around on a prosthetic leg that unless you have a wet leg you cannot wear it in the shower. When they look at a room it is through different eyes than mine, when they are told they have rooms suitable for disabled people why should they doubt it. It was no one’s fault and I think as Baby Padre (so called because he is the youngest and the assistant Padre) said it has probably been more of a learning experience for Cambs ACF than for me.

I think I am OK to give myself a small pat on the back though for making the decision I did. People who know me well know that I will do anything for others and in the past that has been to the detriment of myself on occasions. Before I would have stayed, tried out the plastic chair, hopped around the room and probably either left when I had fallen over or knackered myself out. I can’t afford to do that anymore, I will still do anything for others as long as it is safe and I don’t put myself at risk. I think the thing that annoyed me the most about the whole situation was the fact that I had to leave not because of my limitations but the limitations of the room. If it is advertised as a room for disabled people then it has to be suitable for all disabilities which this room obviously wasn’t. They either need to make the room fit for purpose or not say they have disabled facilities. I had to say goodbye after one night only, never in a million years would I have predicted my Annual Camp would be that short!


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