Multiple sclerosis, Struggles, Uncategorized

Staring down the enemy

There’s a perfectly rational and not unhealthy reason to fear that which outnumbers you.

Bees. Killer ants. Toddlers. Tweens.

Stairs.

Yes, stairs.

I have never been a fan of them. Even in my physical prime (oh, say 16-19, the glory years), I can remember avoiding stairs, always opting for their fun cousin, the escalator.

Sheer laziness? At the time, maybe.

But now stairs are the enemy, my kryptonite.

They sap me of so much energy that if I climb all three flights at work, my day is practically shot.

I wish I was joking. Or even that I was just a lazy teenager again. Lazy I can overcome.

The building I work in is old. Some would call it stately.

To gain entry to the lobby to the elevator, one must be able to walk up two steps and then open two sets of double doors that weigh roughly 534 pounds each. I have seen many a frail person fail at getting those suckers open and then get stuck in the glass-box purgatory until help arrives.

Now let’s add insult to injury. Almost immediately after the second set of doors, there is a quick clump of stairs.

Nothing too challenging, right? Sure.

Except when your right leg won’t cooperate and walking now requires a battle of wills, as though you are learning to do it all over again but the sequence gets lost from the brain to the leg.

Then that clump of stairs becomes a point of frustration, especially when you know that they are your only way in the building. And you have a cane. And a backpack. And a lunch bag. I’m sure it’s entertaining to watch, this Sisyphean struggle of mine.

Suffice it to say that this building isn’t exactly disabled friendly.

What really got me thinking about this was when a co-worker needed to use a wheelchair. The route to the third floor was parking in the back, navigating through the bowels of the building, rolling on an impromptu ramp and up to the penthouse via the freight elevator.

Not exactly the way you want to make an entrance.

Some might question why no there is no easy way into this building for disabled people. Discrimination?

Not exactly. Again, this facility is old, like FDR-era old. (More like TR old, even). So the ADA wasn’t around when it was built.

Sure, there are ADA standards of accessibility for government and commercial facilities set in place in the 1990s.

But as I understand it, those standards don’t have to be met at this historic building (it’s on the register) unless other significant alterations are being made to it.

And even then, the requirement is to provide accessibility “to the maximum extent feasible.” Which is to say that the cost and scope of a wheelchair ramp or lift can’t be disproportionate to the the overall alteration.

So for now, I just pray that the elevator isn’t on the fritz. (It’s not exactly reliable, either.)

Otherwise, I’ll be staring down the enemy.

3 thoughts on “Staring down the enemy”

  1. Ah, stairs. I used to ONLY take the stairs. Now the only way I could take the stairs is to throw myself down them because that’s the most likely result anyway. Between my cane, my limp, and my total lack of balance I am a disaster on stairs. The few times I do HAVE to take them I clutch the rail with both hands and move in tiny, jerky steps. I hate stairs. Hate.

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