Using public transport after an operation such as a total knee replacement is challenging. This is what I learned from Week 5 onwards after my first expedition going 2 stops on the bus.
Getting out the house is the first challenge. As I couldn’t move around quickly, I couldn’t rush around the house, shouting, “where is my purse/key/travelcard/phone/umbrella? ” Had I left it in a coat pocket, upstairs on my desk or on the bedside table? I broke the habits of a lifetime by instigating a system of keeping everything together on a tray in the kitchen. Apologies if this sounds obvious but it wasn’t to me.
My experience is London based.
-I found that journeys need to be planned with military precision and cunning. I know the bus, tube and train network well but I found that the quickest way in time was not necessarily the easiest way for me. I worked out journeys with the minimum of stairs, a knowledge of lifts and escalators, and the shortest length of walking while changing between tube stations or bus and tube and train.
-I allowed plenty of time for journeys, which was another first for me; instead of my normal fashion having to rush at the last minute to be punctual.
-Using the TFL bus times app or Googlemaps on my phone meant that I avoided waiting at bus stops for a long time but I co-ordinated the time I was going to leave.
-There is a bus stop at the end of my road which can take me all the way into Central London. I thought it would be easy for me to just sit on a bus but, in fact, that made my leg and back hurt through having my knee bent for a long time. Once I could get up the stairs, the seat on the right behind the stairs meant there was room for me to stretch my left leg out if needed.
-People are more like to give up seats if you are using crutches and I carried on using them for journeys.
– At Victoria once, I was in a long queue to buy a ticket, as I wanted something not available on the machine and a member of the railways staff told me I could go to a ‘special office’ round the corner for people with disabilities as I was on crutches. So I left my place in the queue only to find that the ‘special office wasn’t staffed, as the person was taking a break which meant I lost my place in the queue and then missed my train. I knew I only had a temporary disability but it made me realise how difficult life could be.