Public transport Vs Brain injury

Ding Ding, round one, the bus.

I’ve never been a fan of public transport, especially not the bus anyway. I grew up in the English countryside. You could wait an hour for a bus, but it still wouldn’t be going where you wanted to go. So I learnt to drive within 6 months of my 17th birthday, when I first got my provisional license. (In the UK you can practise under supervision, at the age of 17. When you pass both your theory and practical test you upgrade to a Full driver’s licence.) But sometimes it can be unavoidable in large towns and cities, and you need public transport.

The problem with the bus is you have to recognise your stop, and then try to navigate from where you got dropped off, to your destination.

When you have a brain injury both of those key actions can be an utter nightmare. And what if you miss your stop, then how to you work your way back? Or what if due to road works the bus takes a different route form it’s usual journey. That’s really confusing! No I’m sorry, for me the bus is not a good option.

Ding ding, round two, trains.

Each destination is kind enough to tell you it’s name and you can count how many stops away it is to where you need to get off. So for me that’s a step up from the bus. But you still have that awkward moment when the train is packed, your balance is rubbish at the best of times so you need to sit down, but a rather passive aggressive looking person has their bag on the only available seat. Then you have to ask, “Can I sit there please?” to make them reluctantly move it like they’ve just done you a favour. ┬áThis is supposed to be public transport, not bag transport.Travelling by public transport is hard with a brain injury

If I had a walking stick or crutch, I probably would get a better response, but just because I can walk, their bag is more important than me. GRRRRR!!! And then I’m angry and feeling awkward, and my emotions are going mental making my head spin.
Ding ding, round three, underground train.

In London you know if you get the tube, you are going to have to stand with your nose wedged in some smelly blokes arm pit as he braises himself whilst stood in the aisle. That is almost a given, but even if you can get over that (which is a challenge at the best on times) there’s all the nonsense that happens even before you get to that delicious icing of the cake.

A place that is crowded with people can still be a lonely place. Tube station. Public transport.

There’s platforms that you have to walk miles┬áto get to (OK that’s an exaggeration) , and it’s so hot down there. It might be freezing outside, but the heat in the tunnels hits you as you make your way down. Not great when you struggle to control your temperature at the best of times. And everyone is so focused on getting where they want to go, they just knock you over. (Sending me flying isn’t the sort of public transport I am looking for.)

One day a elderly lady tripped and fell at the end of an escalator and if it hadn’t been for my partner James holding the crowds back, she would have been crushed.

This rant could go on but I have to go and DRIVE to the other side of the country to see my Dad. It will take 2.5 – 3 hours, but that would more like 4 hours on public transport. Life’s too short for that.

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4 Replies to “Public transport Vs Brain injury”

  1. So happy I just found your Like button! Where I live in Melbourne Australia I can walk 10-15 minutes to a tram but I mostly get a taxi to a train closer to the city and train it from there. I would say 90% of the time I’m offered a seat and I do use a walking stick. I generally do a lot of walking and catch public transport home. May have overdone it yesterday as today my bad foot hurts painfully. I spent 2 years in the country before my disability and I didn’t drive and had to be driven 20 minutes to the only bus, so I understand your predicament. I got my license in time for my diagnosis at 34. My neurologist suggested I give it back. I didn’t but I’ve not driven since.

    1. Helen,I hope your foot gets better soon. I’m pleased the public transport in Melbourne is usually pretty good. It feels difficult giving your license back, as you like to know you have that option. But perhaps as you haven’t driven since, you’ve proved to yourself you don’t need it? Even if you ever do decide to drive again, it would be a good idea to have another driver come with you for a while to get used to it again. After my accident, even though I had been driving for 15 years, I still needed James to come with me as I got comfortable with it again.

  2. Loved your observations about public transport. During my ABI rehab, here in a northern Ontario city, I was given the chance to have a therapist assist me to use the bus. I was encouraged to get to my outpatient appointments on my own, rather than relying on someone taking me. After a few times it started to feel empowering. Missing stops shouldn’t be a problem because it’s announced over a speaker and there is a visual display at the front of the bus. The busses aren’t as frequent as in the UK and you have to be confident in your ability to make the correct connections. I turned up at outpatients 1 hour early more than once because I wanted to make sure to get there in time. I hate running late and having to rush to go anywhere.

    1. David that is so good that you are now confident enough to travel to your appointments on your own. It gives you that independence. I completely understand you arriving early for appointments, I can’t bare being late or feeling hurried either.

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