This summer, I got a chance to go to the P&G Music Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Going to a major concert that weekend was quite the experience for me as a wheelchair-dependent person living with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disease (NMOSD).
While outside the stadium in front of the ticket booth, I was thrown from my wheelchair. After having to get pushed by a helpful bystander up the steep long ramp that is nearly impossible for any person in a wheelchair to make alone, my cousin was pushing me in my wheelchair just past the ticket booth when the ruts in the stadium cement caused my front wheels to get caught and threw me out of my chair to the ground.
First aid was called to help me up, and I was taken inside to get my arm treated, which was scraped pretty badly. It could have been worse. I appreciate how fast the first aid was there to help, however, some of the security guards were less helpful in interacting with my cousin.
What I have noticed is that whoever decided to build so-called wheelchair-accessible ramps, even at crosswalks, clearly couldn’t have consulted with anyone in a wheelchair because they are entirely too steep for someone with a manual chair to make it up by themselves. Now some of them I can make up because I’m a little stronger in my upper body, but most may not have the strength and still would need help. Even going back down some ramps are too steep to control wheelchair speed.
At least, this is what I have noticed in Cincinnati since I have been in a wheelchair. There should be someone on the board that’s in a wheelchair to give their input when it comes to the accessibility of sidewalks and ramps throughout the city and when it comes to building places that will be wheelchair accessible.
At the concert, all was going well until the music was over, and some people decided to start fighting, causing a stampede. I almost got trampled over; my cousin had to literally push me into the wall and cover me with her body so I wouldn’t get knocked to the ground again. I thank her for protecting me.
Overall, I was glad I got to see artists I hadn’t seen in so long. Thank God I was blessed to get out and make it back home safely.
On another excursion, I took a road trip with my family to Hilton Head, South Carolina, which was a nice getaway. I was disappointed, however, at the resort where we stayed because, on its website, it advertises its wheelchair accessible. However, when I booked and called to make sure I would get a wheelchair-accessible room, they told me that I would have to upgrade to a 3-bedroom unit, which was over $200 more. I argued that why should I have to pay more? I don’t need a 3-bedroom room. If you say it’s accessible, I should be accommodated without an extra charge.
In other places I’ve stayed, I was given an upgraded room with no extra charge. They wouldn’t even give me a shower chair. I was told I would have to pay to rent a shower chair. I felt I was being punished for being disabled. I will never stay at that resort again.
Overall, I enjoyed watching my nephew and niece have fun in the water at the beach. The highlight of my summer was being able to go to the Chris Brown and Lil Baby concert. I had so much fun. We were seated in the third row, and I had my wheelchair parked right on the left side. As Chris Brown was singing his last song he walked toward my side of the stage, climbed up a stack of speakers, and reached down to grab my hand. Everyone was screaming. I felt so special that he specifically made his way over to me to say hi. At that moment, my summer was made.
As I stated earlier, I was insecure about being in a chair and people looking at me. However, I have come to realize being noticed in my now hot pink wheelchair isn’t a bad thing. People often say to me that I am their motivation to continue to enjoy life.