The first encounter I had with a fellow disabled person came a few months after being discharged from the hospital. It was with a soft-spoken man called Edward. Just like me, he had suffered a spinal cord injury caused by a road accident. He had visited to see how I was fairing and to hopefully offer some much needed moral support. You get a different kind of support when dealing with someone who has gone through the same things you have. From Stairs To Ramps: Going Home A Broken Man After The Accident
At the time, however, what I needed more than moral support was a dose of reality. Before my meeting with Mr Edward, I was unsure about what to expect in the future. There were a lot of voices interfering with my stillness at the time. The most predominant one was the one that kept telling me a miracle was on the horizon. Having such hope is like wielding a double-edged sword; swing it too far and you might end up cutting yourself. The more I fixated my thoughts on walking again the more I anchored myself to one position. Therefore, I needed to see that not walking wasn’t the biggest hurdle that I had to jump over; my mentality was.
Mr Edward didn’t seem even the least bit fazed by the fact that he had been on a wheelchair for three years straight. He was laughing and making jokes despite the fact that his body was going through a strange metamorphosis which was leaving most of his organs weaker than before. Being in his presence sought of gave me an epiphany, suddenly I wanted to be more comfortable in my skin and less concerned about my inability to move my legs.
I am proud to be part of this community because there is a uniqueness about us and its not necessarily our assistive apparatus. We view the world way differently and we tend not to be too bothered by the nitty gritties of life. Maybe its because we already have so much on our plates to think about.
I celebrate my peers who have found themselves in similar positions because I know what it feels like to wake up one morning; be irritated by the sunrise and be appalled by the sweet singing of birds. I understand entirely, the depression that comes with sitting on this chair. Being able to live through that difficult part of life and coming out unscathed is both inspiring and admirable.
I am now approaching my sixth year since the accident and I have met brilliant disabled people along the way. I make sure to learn a new thing from every new person I meet. I have met guys who have excelled at business and career, travelling the world on their chairs and forced their way to a seat at the table. I look at such characters and I am filled with hope that paralysis doesn’t always have to equal tight budgets and empty pockets. Disability isn’t a deterrent to success or living a life of comfort.
I have seen people excel in relationships and family; this is a sensitive topic in which we experience a lot of resistance. With every trial to forge a working relationship, many will be rooting for its downfall. But negative vibrations become insignificant when disabled women successfully carry children and birth them when their male counterparts sire strong healthy offsprings. This is the world we want, a world where everyone has equal opportunity and drive to become better. For those who continue to challenge us, keep doing what you are doing!!
This month is Spinal Injury Awareness Month. Do you have a person in your life with a spinal injury? Find out what things they struggle with and support them.