Discovering the Strength Within: Living with a Disability for Three Years and What I Learned Along the Way
My mom texted me this morning and until that moment I didn't realize today is the date, three years ago that changed my life completely. It's the day I've sustained a spinal cord injury. I feel like I want to celebrate that I am still here but I also feel a bit empty.
I think back and so much good has happened over the last year. I am truly thankful for that.
Life Goes On
The other day I've met a woman who walks her dog by my house daily. She walks slow and she has this small dog that seems to be walking her. She told me she had a stroke a few months ago. The small dog is her motivation to get out the house, to keep walking and to keep going. The dog also saved her life, it realized sooner that something was wrong as it started to lick her face and crawled upon her, that night moments before she realized herself she needed to call an ambulance. You can tell, this dog is her life. The dog saved her life and probably still is. It's a touching story. Now, this woman has to live life 'slow' as she says, because her body can't handle her lifestyle as it was before. As she tells me her story I feel she is struggling with the fact that she can't do what she used to do before. 'I could never live like you are doing' she says. 'I mean being paralyzed and living in a wheelchair. I've used a wheelchair for a few weeks but I prefer walking'.
To me this wheelchair, is everything. Without it, I am nowhere. Being paralyzed from the waist down is not easy but it's not undoable living life. People keep saying that they couldn't live like this and that is because they don't have to. I have no choice, it's either giving up or moving on. My wheelchair is a part of me. It is my lifeline and my hope. It is my ally in taking on the world and living my best life. Without my wheelchair, I know I can still have a good life, but I also know that it is far better with it.
The opportunities that came into my life because of the spinal cord injury make life (with a spinal cord injury) worth living. Never have I ever, thought I was going to be interviewed for magazines, being a runway (roll) model for a couture show or to be a candidate in a television show. Ofcourse these highlights will never replace walking and 'being abled'. But even after all the bad stuff that happened I managed to create something positive from the negative. Life is still worth it! I am independent and I have a job. I know I can have a good life and so can you. It took me a long time to realize that I am stronger than most people. Not because I am paralyzed, but because I am me.
'You must have changed, you are probably a completely different person than before you ended up in a wheelchair' the lady with the small dog assumed. I feel like I did not change. The situation only highlighted my weaknesses and strengths and made me more self aware. I think it is important to know that a spinal cord injury does not have to be a death sentence. It can be a new beginning and a life to be lived. I am grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way and I have learned to appreciate my journey. Life with a spinal cord injury is certainly worth living and I am grateful for every moment.
Keep on rolling
You always have to be ready to fight for your rights, no matter how tough the situation.You need to be an advocate for yourself and take an initiative.You can be an inspiration to others facing similar circumstances. Be strong and never give up.
We all have something to learn from disability. To me, the most important lesson of the last three years has been to embrace and celebrate the differences between people. People with disabilities not only bring unique perspectives, but can also be a source of inspiration to those around them. We can learn to recognize and appreciate the strengths of those with disabilities, as well as their challenges. This can help us understand our own limitations, as well as the value of having diverse perspectives and contributions.
Another lesson I have learned is to not be afraid to ask for help when needed. It is important to recognize that there are services and accommodations available to support people with disabilities. Asking for help can sometimes be intimidating, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you in your journey with disability.Finally, I have learned that perseverance pays off.
Living with a disability can be difficult, and at times it can feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. However, by staying true to yourself and believing in your abilities, you can find success and make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.Living with a disability can be challenging, but it can also be a source of growth and learning. No matter how difficult the situation is, there are always lessons to be learned and strength to be gained.
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