Wheelchair stories: going to my favourite restaurant

Sometimes my partner and I want to go out. Often this means going to the cinema or eat in a restaurant. We can’t do this very often (due to our disabilities and psychological issues but also because of money problems), but sometimes we just want to. So we make it happen. Just like the previous time, when we went to my favourite restaurant, together with my family to celebrate our anniversary.

We have this special restaurant which we really like, luckily my family likes this one too. The food is just great and it isn’t expensive. However, it’s quite an adventure for us two to do this. We’ve already been here a couple times before (last year we went here 2 times 🙂 ) so we know the drill. The staff doesn’t.

First we have to make a reservation, this year my dad did this for us, which I’m grateful for, because I’ve apparently been hit by the flu or another virus – and I don’t like calling. You sometimes have to wait so long (I often have to call hospitals..) and sometimes people are mean so then I find it a bit scary again; and it just costs so much energy and I find e-mailing so much more effective and faster (I’ll probably make a blogpost about this sometime too). So if possible my fellow Hippo (my partner) and I both rather don’t call, because it just isn’t very suitable for our disabilities. When we make the reservation, we already announce that we need a table suitable for a wheelchair. This, because their regular tables aren’t. It’s this western-style restaurant and it looks really nice (the staff walks around dressed like cowboys and the restaurant is nicely decorated) – but the chairs and tables are awful. You just can’t sit under it with a wheelchair, because of the massive table-leg that is as big as the table itself. Then again, if they didn’t have such awful chairs (everyone always gets back pain, even though they ask for extra pillows and normally don’t have back pain) then most of the time I wouldn’t have to come with the wheelchair. I only have to walk a little bit and I can always go on crutches or get support from my fellow Hippo or family when walking.
It’s a 30-minute-drive (when we use the highway) to our favourite restaurant, because it’s in quite a remote place. So I’m really happy we found our family willing to drive us and join us for dinner (they even paid for us!).


[Photo of the outside of a restaurant in cowboy style].
Note: This is not the same restaurant.

When we arrived, we found out they didn’t get the right table from the attic, although we asked for it over the phone. This actually happened last time too. It’s ok, I don’t get angry over it. You can see they’re not used to wheelchair users, because they never come here. That’s because the building isn’t disabled-friendly at all. There are major thresholds, they don’t have a toilet for disabled people (and the hallway to the toilets is too narrow to go through with a wheelchair anyway). They also have these swing doors you always see in saloons in western movies , so that’s always an adventure to go through. We already developed some good techniques for that 🙂 Oh and even though they aren’t used to it, the staff does treat me with respect, just like they treat the other guests. I hardly ever encounter that, just because of the prejudices people have about wheelchair users. And they do seem to actually feel sorry (and surprised) when they find out their restaurant isn’t disabled-friendly – and are very glad when they discover we’re pretty used to these situations and always find some kind of solution for it.

Eventually we sat at a less-awful table, so I could reach the cutlery, even though everyone couldn’t still really get their chairs under the table. I was happy, because we did it. We sat there. The food was great and it was rather quiet in the restaurant. Which is exceptional, so we were glad we picked this date. The place is always crowded and they always play loud music, sometimes live. Even a little parade comes with whistles and all dressed up when it’s someone’s birthday (and they also announce whose birthday it is),  but on holidays it’s even more and of course more little children. So the ambiance was great for us. We had a nice time, despite all the obstacles we had to overcome to get here.

For me, it was a wonderful evening. We’ve been there for an hour (my family – including me – are fast eaters, so an hour is long for us) and the chatting was nice. I’m glad my fellow Hippo and I could celebrate our anniversary, despite all the stuff going on such as all the uncertainty we still have going on about housing, school, getting help, money etc. (more about that another time). Using the wheelchair is a great solution, because it’s adapted for me and my bad back. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sit, lie or walk for at least 2 days when I have to sit on those chairs for an hour. Despite all the issues this restaurant is still great. I’ve had more issues with other restaurants and then I’m not talking about the tasteless but expensive food (yet). I’m just happy they don’t have stairs here before you can go to the toilet or enter the building.

As mentioned before, both my fellow Hippo and I have chronic fatigue syndrome. For us, going to a restaurant for an hour is like a complete day out. And I’m just really happy we found a way to still do things like this, sometimes. We also have some problems with food. My fellow Hippo officially has IBS (irritable bowle syndrom) and they think I have this too. So when we’re home, he has to go to the toilet for a long time, multiple times that day (and often the next day too). My parents asked if he was willing to do this (I already knew the answer since we talk about everything). He replied that he chose for this willingly and knowing the consequences. He often has this problem with almost every food he eats anyway and at least this food is ‘worth it’. And we often only do this once (or maybe twice) a year, so it’s ok. We’re both happy, despite our diseases and disabilities. I hope more people can enjoy these things too, despite their problems.

Photo source


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