Thursday, May 17, 2012

Here's What Happened Yesterday

I left the parking building at 2:00 for my 3:30 hearing. I parked in the building right above the courthouse so I wouldn't have to go far. I took my oxygen because I was getting nervous and it was affecting my heart. I hardly ever wear my oxygen in public anymore. If I am feeling so bad that I have to have it I just stay home but I couldn't avoid the hearing.

I took my time walking there and there was a nice long wait for the elevator so that helped. I went into the building and stood to the side because I had a metal oxygen tank and I also took the cans of beer and energy drinks so I could show the magistrate. Getting through the metal detectors was no problem though and they had a bench there so I set down and had a nice little rest before proceeding to the magistrate's office.

When I got the the magistrate that is when they told me I was in the wrong building. I had to go the building across the street. For a normal person this is no problem. For me it is a major ordeal. I had to cross 2 streets to get there and one of them is a busy 4 lane street.

So I left to go to the other building. I had to rest at the street corner through 2 lights before I felt strong enough to cross. Then I had to cross the other street. There was a bench there but it was full of smokers so I couldn't sit down.

Then I get to the front entrance of the courthouse. I look for a handicap entrance because there are about 15 or 20 steps and I see a sign at the top of the stairs. I wondered how in the world a handicap person was supposed to take those stairs but I dragged my oxygen tank up the stairs. Slowly and methodically taking them one step at a time. The oxygen tank is on a little dolly but it is still heavy.

I get to the top of the stairs and the door is locked! I look at the handicap sign again and I see a tiny arrow pointing to the left. There was no way for me to see that arrow from the street. So I had to go back down a couple of steps and go around a little wall and go through a revolving door with my oxygen tank. That wasn't too bad and I was still wondering how someone with a wheelchair could get into the building.

There was a bench in the lobby and I collapsed there. My heart was pounding and I was completely out of breath. Not a soul was anywhere around me. I sat there for at least 20 minutes getting my air. A policeman walked by and I stopped him to ask if there was no elevator to the magistrate office because I was having problems with the stairs and there was still another flight to negotiate. He told me I had to take the stairs down and then another flight back up and then he left. He was busy with a personal phonecall.

So I sat there and rested for awhile longer. I started down the steps and was making my way down them when I heard someone behind me. I hated blocking them but I had no choice. When I got to the foot of the steps I knew I was in serious trouble. The man behind me was a maintenance man and he did his best to help me. He went to 2 different offices and both of them told him I had to go up another flight of steps to get to court. By this time I knew that my heart couldn't take what was going on and he held both doors for me as he showed me the other flight of steps I needed to take.

I thanked him for his help and I rested at the foot of those steps. There were 3 policemen at the top of the steps who completely ignored me even though anyone who looked at me could see I was in distress. Finally I made my way to the top of the steps. I waited for them to do there search and once again I asked if there wasn't a better way for me to get to court. The policeman told me no again.

I went into court and sat down at the first available bench. It was after 3 by this time and the hearing was at 3:30 but I made it. Thankfully there were a bunch of people ahead of me so I got to sit there and rest as I waited my turn. It took about 1/2 an hour before I started to even be aware of my surroundings again.

Finally my turn came for my hearing. I found out I would have to come back again. I asked the judge if there wasn't another way for someone to get to court because it was too much for me. She very nicely told me there was an elevator and I could have used that. I felt completely dejected at this point and I asked her why no one told me this when I was trying to get to court the first time. I told her I even asked a couple of policemen how to get there. She looked like she didn't believe me (which I can't blame her for that). It astounds me that policemen wouldn't help someone who needed to get to a handicap entrance!

She said when they were finished with paperwork to just ask a policeman to take me down in the elevator. A key was required for access. When the policeman and I were leaving I asked how I was supposed to go about using the elevator to come back.

He was none too friendly as he told me I would have to arrive early (which I had done). He said I would have to find a policeman. (which I had done) Then I would have to wait for one of them to be able to leave their post because they couldn't just leave everytime somebody wanted them. (which is understandable) Then he added, "this is the only elevator we have for people in wheelchairs. We can't tie it up."

I pointed out to him that the elevator was for people with disabilities...not just people in wheelchairs. I have run into this problem before because I don't particularly look like someone with a disability but with my heart and lung issues I can't walk far at all on flat land. Taking 3 flights of stairs after walking a block is something my doctors would tell you I should absolutely not be doing unless I was feeling strong enough to do it.

I am supposed to do as much as I can and I do everyday. But I am supposed to stop when I feel there is a problem. I had to go to that hearing. But I did NOT have to go through all those steps to do it. There needs to be some sort of change at the Kanawha County Courthouse. (the one for the city, not the county).

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