Today a mammogram, which is where a machine squeezes your boobs on a metal plate. I started out feeling peeved because my usual hospital didn’t have a wheelchair accessible machine. For fucks sake! Another form of crip-culling via indifference and ignorance. How many people drift through the screening system supposedly there catch to cancer early?
But it still wasn’t as it should be, even at the supposedly accessible place.
I’m in the scan room and two polite, pleasant mannered but somewhat nervy radiographers hover over me. They attempt to push my (power) chair, then ask me if I can stand ‘only for a few minutes’. OK, I’ll let that one go, at least they ask. I say no. A bit more dithering and I ask my PA to help me undress.
I’m in front of the machine which looks scarily like a high tech meat slicer. It goes up, it goes down, it clamps together. It is not, however, truly accessible. I speculate who designs these things. Not female and not mobility impaired I conclude.
I face the machine and one radiographer attempts to twist me so as much right bosom as possible is on the slab. Now I am not especially flat chested (yes, yes I can hear friends giggling) and so bosom sits there while a plastic plate is pushed down onto it. But I cannot be manoeuvered by force – I simply crunch and break.
Left breast is next on the slab, and all goes reasonably well. But this is followed by a sidewards scan as the meat slice turns. I’m asked to dismantle my wheelchair and stretch my arm across the machine. I try, unsuccessfully. A bit of forcing is attempting before I object. No I can’t drop my shoulder, no I can’t move in any other way.
The outcome is ‘it will have to do’. Why oh why do I end up feeling guilty?
By the way girls, don’t fear a mammogram, it’s mildly uncomfortable, no more. But if you have a mobility impairment – check that they know!
I’d also been shoved into grouchy old woman mode because of the faffing about with parking. Dear Readers, let me tell you now; the disabled Blue Badge is not some wondrous licence to park anywhere (unless you’re a crim – like the one who stole my BB from my van in 2006, bastard). Neither is there automatic parking rights at a hospital simply because you have a badge.
The BB system is screwed at the best of times – no reliable method to root out abuse, and massive overload. Then you enter the central London boroughs and it’s even worse. BB does not count very much here and today I was in City of London. Online information tells me there’s 16 ‘Disabled’ bays where I need to go. I head for the first four… the next two, the next three…all taken. At 15 I’m very stressed as it could be a meter jobbie which will mean a longer wheel – and yes that does matter as there’s many cobbled streets, and pavements with intermittent dropped kerbs.
It makes me howl with outrage at the idea disabled people have it ‘easy’. Easy in what sense?!
Once again, it’s the social configurations that causes the discrimination, the barriers from design and from negative attitude. Under-pinned by the subtle but clear message from politicians that we are nothing but scroungers, useless-eaters and irrelevances.
Now I must go out for a stroll and buy some stationery to chase the BBB blues away.