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A Lesson In Conscious Living

Posted by Lesley Greenwood on November 11, 2020

A close-up of Lesley's face – her right hand is raised to her face, in a "pointed " way

That my life is lived very much in a conscious and no longer spontaneous way was brought home to me recently when I found myself unable to get out of my home lift! It was entirely my own fault as I broke my own cardinal rule, which is to never put myself in a vulnerable position but, as I’d waved goodbye to my mother, I was seized by an overwhelming and joyful urge to pop upstairs.

Now, I appreciate that this sounds the most mundane of actions, but if I explain to you that, until 6 months ago, I’d been living in a house where I could no longer get upstairs, in fact had not been upstairs for 6 years, then it might help explain why the simple act of accessing an upper floor should be so thrilling. My wonderful husband had assured me that this ramshackle 17th century farmhouse, with its’ uneven floors, wonky walls, winding staircase and steps in strange places could indeed be fully accessible to me in my monster power chair because he would install a home lift! Which he did.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to realise that I’ve left something upstairs but now it doesn’t matter because I can go and get it! Yes, me! I don’t have to wait until someone else is here, or available, I can do it by myself! I can have a moment of sheer, joyous spontaneity! Except, in reality I can’t, otherwise getting stuck in my lift would not have been such a big deal.

I feel at this point though that I should explain that I wasn’t actually stuck in my lift and unable to get out at all, I was stuck upstairs because the door to my lift wouldn’t open when I got downstairs, so stuck, but not entirely. The reason the door wouldn’t open was also my own fault because a spare piece of carpet had been placed in front of the door to my lift upstairs, in a cavalier don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it-right-now-but-it-might-come-in-useful kind of way and, every time I sailed over it to get into my lift, it moved slightly forwards. And I knew this! And I ignored it! Fool!

You see my lift isn’t the kind of lift you get in a department store, with sliding doors and, whilst there is a purpose-built lift housing, it’s a through-the-floor home lift, the ceiling becomes the floor upstairs once it’s moved downstairs and the floor of it becomes the ceiling downstairs when it’s moved upstairs, if that makes sense, so there’s never a gaping hole for any able bod to fall into and it’s quite discreet. I don’t suddenly appear through the ceiling in the corner of the room, like a panto baddie! As I descend, however, and said ceiling moves down, it has to fit snugly into place or it has a hissy fit, stops completely and the door won’t open. Which is precisely what happened.

The carpet, yes probably barely half an inch of it, was preventing the ceiling of the lift from fitting seamlessly into the hole and, as I got downstairs, the computer said no and the door wouldn’t open. So I had to go back upstairs. This too wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d remembered that I live life on an uber-conscious level, where everything is planned and nothing left to chance but, still flushed by the thrill of being able to dash upstairs, I’d totally disregarded this simple edict, so I’d shut the gates and left the only fob that opens them in the kitchen… my lovely husband was due home in the next 20 minutes and would be left out on the road. He would have climbed over the gates, he is a Super Hero after all, however in my infinite wisdom, aka a senior moment, I’d locked the front door and left the key in… big mistake. Huge. Because that meant that even had he vaulted the gates he still wouldn’t have been able to get in without resorting to smashing a window.

As I travelled back upstairs this was a sobering thought and I berated myself heartily for my stupidity. I have learned, through some hard lessons, to always think ahead, consider the consequences of miscalculation but had failed miserably and allowed myself to be carried away, literally! Back upstairs I glared balefully at the offending piece of carpet and tried to work out the best way to escape. 

Now, one of the things I find most useful and use every single day is a piece of equipment I call my grabber (aka reacher), a long-handled stick with a pincer movement at the end that helps me pick up things I would otherwise not be able to reach. You may have noticed that there are a variety of them to purchase from this very website! Fortunately I have two, one upstairs and one downstairs. Without this handy gadget I would have been well and truly stuck because I am much higher up in my power chair, so I cannot lean down and reach anything I’ve dropped on the floor.

Nothing, however, beats your hand when attempting to do anything that requires you to grip something firmly and carpet on top of carpet is the very devil to move, which became patently clear as I sat there, trying desperately to move it. What happened next I like to think was a spot of divine intervention as, with the clock ticking closer to my husband’s arrival, I resorted to what I like to think anyone in a tight spot would resort to, a lot of very bad language followed by a plea to any and all angels to get me out of here! At that very moment my lift door shut with a clang. Yes I know that it automatically shuts after five minutes if I’ve forgotten to do it, but you have to admit it certainly added to the drama of the whole situation! It also made me realise that if I turned around I could come at the problem from a different angle and that pulling the carpet across me instead of towards me might result in more success. Taking up my handy grabber once more I managed to get enough purchase to move the carpet slightly! Hurrah! One more go and it was pulled far enough from the lift to enable it to close properly. Holding my breath I descended. Would the door open at the bottom? It did! I was free! I raced into the kitchen and pressed the fob to open the gates, then unlocked the front door and dashed outside.

It was with an overwhelming sense of relief that I sat out there, reflecting on how a moment’s lack of concentration could have such profound consequences for someone in my situation and a great sense of gratitude towards whoever it was who invented those grabbers!


Lesley Greenwood enjoyed a modicum of success in a previous incarnation when her children were smaller, as a writer of pre-school children’s stories under her maiden name of Lesley Rees. These days, she lives in the countryside with her fabulous and long-suffering husband and has developed a passion for oak trees.

While officially classed as ‘severely disabled’ by certain short-sighted and ill-informed medics, she prefers to view herself as amazingly and extremely ‘differently-abled’ as she hurtles across the field in her super-sparkly, turbo-charged power chair.

Lesley lives with MS (multiple sclerosis) in the Midlands and has written previous blogs – The Day I Was Bitten By – The Beast!Trains, Planes and HotelsThe Highs And Lows Of Retail TherapyLosing That Lockdown Look! and The Things That People Say.

Watch out for her next blog – it’s bound to be an interesting read!