“Disability is articulated as a struggle, an unnecessary burden that one must overcome to the soundtrack of a string crescendo.  But disabled lives are multi-faceted – brimming with personality, pride, ambition, love, empathy and wit.” – Sinead Burke. 

      Today my, largely, hidden disability became more visible.  Blatantly so, in fact.  Railings have been installed along the path from our driveway, to our front door.  This is to cater for my difficulty with walking which, on the worst days, can be challenging.  I generally manage well using my trusty walking stick and, on the best of days, I can sometimes get by without my stick for at least a short time.  Parkinson’s is devilishly consistent in being inconsistent and so the trick is to cater for all eventualities on any given day.

     The cheerful workman arrived in good time for his 8.30am start.  He was professional and courteous and got swiftly on with the job of installing the railings.  It’s been a beautiful, hot and sunny day here, by the Suffolk coast and that’s useful, for the concrete that the railings are fixed into should set all the faster.

     Not quite enough material had been ordered and so the, by this time perplexed, workman advised us that he’d be coming back on another day to complete the final length of the railing.  What has been built will prove an immediate help.  One of the most difficult things for me is to maintain my balance while unlocking the front door; particularly when I am carrying anything and not least of all while trying to manage our two dogs as the door opens.  I can envisage, already, the benefits of having these new railings.

     I’m also pleased because my lovely mother-in-law has mobility difficulty and this railing will also help her, when she comes to visit.  Now that the Coronavirus lockdown measures have eased a little, she may well soon come and join us in our garden for a catch up.  Have you had external mobility aids added to your own home?  How have you found the addition of the railings?  We are due to have railings fitted on our staircase and in our bathroom, too.  I have fallen down our stairs, and fallen in the bathroom, several times each and it’s been a miracle that I haven’t broken a bone.  Once these supports are in place, I can feel confident that on my worst Parkinson’s days I will be less vulnerable to falling.  That is a huge relief.

     It is my hope that more people will install railings indoors and outside, to prevent unnecessary falls.   I do understand that many people are doggedly defiant and refuse to have railings installed because they feel they are ‘giving in’ to their disability.  I have to disagree with this stance, no matter how brave it is.  I have to say it is rather foolish to risk the broken bones and injuries that often come with such falls.  Not least of all, especially at this time of Covid-19 virus, we need to reduce the burden on our amazing National Health Service (NHS), as much as possible.  Preventing falls can only help towards reducing the burden of treatment needs, aftercare and the inevitable burden of cost on the NHS.

     One of the good things about this installation, is that the railings are free standing.  They do not connect directly to the walls of our cottage.  The cottage is a listed building.  This means that the building has been protected and cannot be subject to alteration.  The cottage is over five hundred years old and so the listing would prevent any fixtures being added to the place.

     If you have had, or are considering, railings installed outside your home, do please feel free to comment below and share an update about how that addition has been for you.

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2020.


2 Responses

  1. Good article. I am one of those people who was defiant and refused to have railings installed because it felt like I was giving into my disability. Now that I have had 3 major falls, I have all the safely rails and bars needed to keep me safe.

    • Hi Phil, Thanks for reading and for sharing about your own experience. I’m saddened that you have suffered so many falls but it is good to know you now have the equipment in place, that you need. Stay well and safe. Kind regards, Dean.

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