Independence is a value that we all prize and, perhaps, it’s the one that people with disabilities prize most highly.
Whatever type of disability we may have, we try to overcome it. We try, as best we can, to hold on to our independence as long as possible, sometimes beyond what is realistic.
While independence is one of those qualities that helps us be human beings, it is wrong to be discourteous when offered assistance. Even if I can manage without help, I either accept or decline politely, always saying thanks for offering.
For those of us who use wheelchairs or scooters, or have problems reaching upwards, shopping in supermarkets can test our independence. Getting what we need from the highest shelves.
We reach up as high as we can, in an attempt to secure the item. However, in most cases, those pesky targets remain safely on their shelves, looking down at us with an air of defiance. Almost laughing at us.
At first, I glance around quickly to see if there is a staff member nearby. If so, they will be pleased to assist. If not, I’ll ask a fellow customer. I don’t feel shame or embarrassment, just gratitude for being handed whatever item I need. After all, I use a wheelchair because of a disability that results from MS. That’s not my fault, so no need to feel ashamed.
In one supermarket, when it is not so busy, they go even further to help anyone having problems. They have one of the staff take your shopping list and bring everything you want to the checkout. Then, once you have paid, they are happy to carry it all to your car and place it safely inside.
No shame, no guilt
When you make your own selections in the aisle and someone passes you a sought-after grocery, or other, is it any different than someone holding a door open for us? No, it isn’t. There is no need for any of us to feel guilty.
Of course, this also applies to anyone who cannot reach the topmost shelves. Also, those who are unable to bend down to reach the lowest shelves are equally in need of help.
There are, though, plenty of other people who can have problems getting what they want from those same difficult to reach shelves.
Such people may be of shorter than average adult height, they may have arthritis or another medical condition that diminishes their flexibility. Or they may be feeling the effects of being more advanced in years.
Whoever and however lacking we may be, we must cherish our independence and, at the same time, readily accept assistance. And, we must also do all we can to support others, according to the best of our abilities.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.