This week I spent a day working with student health professionals at a London university, talking to them about what it is like to parent a severely disabled child. It's something I've done for a number of years now and every time I come away feeling enthusiastic about the potential those first year students have to become caring and understanding practitioners in the future.
But these days out don't just benefit the students. They remind me that I was once a professional myself, that I did training of student accountants, that I actually had a workplace other than my own home. They remind me also of why I was glad to give up commuting into London each day, even though on this occasion my fellow speaker and I were able to travel at the very end of rush hour and missed the worst of the crowds. This year, for the first time ever, we avoided changing trains at a busy interchange and instead rode on a couple of stops to a smaller station, with the aim of getting a bus to our final location rather than walking. I'd researched bus routes in advance and it all went like clockwork.
The journey reminded me that when we lived in inner London I frequently used buses. I still do out here in the suburbs, but I'd taken to only using the underground when I travelled into town, walking whatever distance was necessary at the end, because the number of bus routes was confusing and I wasn't sure where to get off. Now that I can only walk relatively short distances before I need to rest, a trip into London was becoming an increasingly daunting prospect and sometimes I found my anxiety led to excuses not to go.
I was so out of touch with bus routes that I'd never really considered the power of the internet. Using Google maps and the Transport for London website it really is possible to plan any bus journey with a degree of confidence. I think I'll be making more use of the buses next time I venture up to town and I hope it will give me the confidence to spread my wings a little further again. I'm not just the mother of a disabled child, I'm a writer and I want to be able to develop that side of my life even more over the next few years, without being limited by my own physical weakness.