Ah, the favourite part of my (and I am sure many others) day! Who doesn’t love that 6:30am alarm clock. So I take with me a daily flask of tea which brings both joy and disasters on my hour and a half journey to the big smoke. The hot tea in the morning means that I actually can function. However, due to my hopeless balance as a result of my CP I tend to leave a trail of tea on my journey. I have one of those flasks that need to be poured into their lid but due to the combination of juddering train and my dodgy balance I have managed to spill my hot tea over far too many unsuspecting commuters. I also find that even waiting on the very flat and level platform I will have a random loss of balance whilst drinking my tea so need to put in a quick little jig to make sure I stay upright. Unfortunately this means I spill the tea creating a lovely puddle at my feet and getting some very weird looks from my fellow commuters. Regardless of all of this tea related drama, I cannot imagine my commute without my tea and refuse to use a different flask which may avoid these spillages as I have now started this routine and don’t fancy the idea of changing it.
On to another fun stage of my commute once the tea drinking drama is complete-walking along the platform. Unfortunately I have to change trains on my journey to London and this proves much more of a challenge than I first anticipated. As the trusty 7:24 am train seems to always be rammed it is a daily battle to get a seat. I have now worked out the best way to ensure I grab one. It involves racing along the platform to the very front of the train and ensuring that I am right by the doors the minute they open to grab my trophy of a well deserved seat. However, due to my CP this race takes its toll. Increasing the speed of my walk means my balance goes out the window and I am also not great at walking in a straight line, plus it just is pretty tiring barging past everyone else in the race for the top seat. In particular my daily frustration is that I am never able to beat my fellow commuters along the platform. Every single day I always build myself up for the race against my fellow commuter that I like to call Badger Man (he has some very interestingly coloured hair, unfortunately I don’t think going grey suits him). To give myself the best chance I choose to stand on the first (short) train journey so that I can be right by the doors to get off this train first and move it straight down the platform. To my immense frustration, Badger Man always manages to get a seat on this first train and still beats me along the platform to be first in line for the next train. This means that not only does he get a seat on the first train but also guarantees one on the second and he gets the major ego boost of beating me (although he doesn’t even know this is a race). So anyway, I hope that this exemplifies my determination on a daily basis and despite Badger Man beating me along the platform I still more often than not manage to bag a seat so there you go it is possible.
Another of my downfalls (literally) on my commute is falling over in the most public places possible. Unfortunately the majority of these could be avoided if I was to slow down but that just goes against my nature and desire to get the commute done in record time. Although I do not enjoy the process of falling I think that I have now become a natural at this artform. Due to my CP my balance is poor and as I walk toe-to-heal, I am much more likely to catch my feet on uneven ground. Therefore walking along the uneven London pavements at speed with many other people is a recipe for disaster. I seem to time my falls for the most public of locations.This means that I have about five people at once surrounding me when I go down to offer help. To me this makes the whole situation worse as I just want to get on with my record breaking commute time. Over many years of CP and many more falls I have learnt a few vital lessons:
- Always put your hands down first-it is much less painful to break your fall with your hands than your knees. I learnt this the hard way and had a period at school where I would fall at least 3 times a day. This meant that my knees resembled a range of underwater volcanoes-blue from all of the bruising and raised up due to the number of scars I have accumulated.
- Always carry plasters-I get through a lot of those
- Do not form an emotional attachment to any pairs of shoes. This is a big one for me. As a result of my frequent tripping and falling, shoe scuffing is my specialty. This means that when I buy or am give a new pair of shoes it takes me at least 12 months (yes 12) to get them out of the box and onto my feet. Every single time that I scuff a new pair of shoes it is heartbreak for me-by this I mean full blown tear tantrum I get incredibly frustrated by my ability to ruin a pair of lovely shoes so I have decided that I will just resort to Primark’s shoe selection to minimise damage to both my bank account and my emotional state. Just as an additional point if you do not follow my previous point about breaking your falls then be prepared for creating lots of holes in leggings, tights and jeans along with some pretty chilly knees.
- Double check for any post fall injuries. I recently had a very rough time with my feet. This all started with me breaking in a new pair of shoes (brave I know). I took the plunge and decided to wear them on a commute. This resulted in bad blisters but as I have fewer nerve endings in my feet, to me they felt like a minor graze. I carried on a usual sticking my feet into trainers and heading to the gym. To cut a long story short I carried on with this routine for a few days (by which time my feet had really taken on severe collateral damage). I ended up with multiple doctors appointments to get the wounds inspected (it was not pretty). In addition my office became accustomed to seeing my rock up in socks and flipflops to work for a number of weeks-the only way I could give my feet a chance to heal. So please save yourselves a fashion footwear disaster and make sure that you check any niggles that you may be feeling
One final drama I face daily is the wonderful underground. My advice here is hold on tight. As previously stated my balance leaves a lot to be desired so this causes a few issues when being rammed like sardines on the Jubilee line. I am utterly in awe of the people who can stand on the tube whilst it is moving without holding on to anything. They are just happily reading there book getting involved in some gripping thriller without a care in the world. Well, all I can say is I am very envious of their core strength and I would not like to meet them in a Pilates class. For me, standing on the tube is unfortunately an unavoidable but very high risk task. I find myself holding on for dear life (one hand is rarely enough for me to stay put) and concentrating immensely hard to ensure that I do not twist and turn up the aisles colliding with my fellow commuters and squashing far to many toes. My advice is to go for the spots by the door so that you can lean against the closed doors and ensure that you hold on with both hands. Trust me, although your fellow commuters may be annoyed that you have nabbed the prime spot on the tube they will be grateful when they avoid getting off at Waterloo with some seriously broken toes due to your loss of balance dance down the aisles.
Right so moral of all those ramblings is just to show you how much something as simple as commuting takes out of someone who suffers from CP but also that despite the problems I face on a daily basis I survive and make it to the office for my 8:30am start-I will also continue my race against Badger Man.
4 thoughts on “The Trials and Tribulations of my commute”
What a wonderful piece of writing, Yasmin! I was on your commute with you! I loved the way you managed to be funny and poignant at the same time. Keep writing. My guess is someone will want to publish it as it is a unique vision of the world.
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Thank you so much Brian, your lovely words will definitely motivate me to keep writing. Really pleased you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share it too
Reblogged this on EACA International School of Advertising and Communications and commented:
Please read and share- such great message for all of us
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Your story of Mr Badger man, your resilience to tripping & falling and the reality of travelling on the underground are so honest, funny and inspiring at the same time.
Keep writing and opening our eyes to reality of day-today life for someone living with cerebral palsy.