Nina’s musings – always ask

Not to boast, but I have a superpower, and it never fails to get me noticed. I have the supreme ability to make extremely easy things look incredibly difficult. Even when they are not. I know, it’s impressive, isn’t it?

It does have its drawbacks though, usually in the form of well-meaning bystanders being compelled to ‘help’ me when I am not expecting it. This, more often than not, results in some degree of an injury to one, (usually me) or both parties.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I have ended up with an exceptionally sore bum, after falling backward, because someone has wrenched open a door that I was leaning on, to open it widely enough for me to pass through. Or snatch my walking frame, ‘Cecily’ from my grasp unexpectedly to help me move it, causing me to fall forward. Because “I could see you were struggling”.

See, here’s the thing, I’m almost 40 and I’ve been disabled my whole life. I know what my body is capable of, perhaps even better than you do. Plus, I’m blind, so chances are I won’t see you coming, and I haven’t even started on the joy I get from doing things for myself. So please, please, please, ask before you dive in to help me. Or at the very least, warn me first!

Last week, while I was trying to unlock the front door of my apartment building, my walking frame (whose breaks I had forgotten to put on), got away from me. As I watched her roll down the hill and into the intersection, I completely lost my head. Yelling, “Cecily come back here,” as she hurtled further and further away from me, finally coming to a stop when she ran into a car rounding the corner, that seemingly did not notice.

So here I was, with Cecily now a good 10 metres away (AKA too far for me to walk independently), and she had my mobile and my bag. There was only one thing for it. I would have to crawl (in my best outfit), over to her.

I looked about me for bystanders, (lest someone assume I was in peril and spring into action to lift me up), but I could see nobody. So, I reluctantly got down onto the ground, just as a guy crossed my path (did I mention I’m blind?). He looked at me puzzled and asked if I needed help getting up. “No thanks,” I said, “But I’d be grateful; if you could rescue my walking frame.” He did, and all was right with the world again.

Help is not always helpful. Always ask a person living with disability if they need help before you jump in and find out what they need help with. Otherwise, you might just be a hindrance.

No walking frames were harmed during the making of this article.

Nina writes her own blog Inner Musings of a Funny Looking Kid. She doesn’t receive any supports from Activ Foundation but has jumped on board with Activ to share her first-hand experiences of living with a disability and to educate the public through her witty musings.