What It's Like Being New To Disability

12.4.2015
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“I didn’t know much about disability at all. I’d seen guys on wheelchairs and thought ‘Oh their legs don’t work, that’s it.’ I didn’t realize my abdominals wouldn’t work, my hands wouldn’t work properly.”

“I couldn’t work out why my hands wouldn’t work and why it’s so hard. I thought it was just because I was tired from the operation.” Dan was paralyzed over 15 years ago in a rugby accident. He loves to travel, he loves sports, he has a full-time job and he loves spend time with his loved ones.

Embarking on a new journey after a spinal cord injury 

He decided to be positive and maximize his abilities rather than focus on his disability. “I got involved with sports pretty quickly. I think that offered me a different life that was really exciting,” he shares. “Emotionally…I don’t think it has really impacted me to great degree, I’m sure at times it has, but…I’m just like any person. I’ve the same hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties…I have relationship dramas just the same as if I was able-bodied.”

“There’s definitely people who have a lower expectation of what can be achieved when you have disability. I think those thoughts actually come from people with disabilities themselves.”

He recalls a friend with a disability who believed she wasn’t capable of working a full-time job, despite having even more function than Dan, who does have a full-time job. He doesn’t want anyone to lower their expectations because they assume they can’t do something, but to challenge themselves and see what’s possible. Although his parents were worried about his future when he was first injured, now they enjoy seeing their son has made something of himself, just like any proud parent. “[My dad] didn’t really know where my life was going,” Dan shares, but now he’s living a full life.

Dan has achieved a lot in life with his career and sports, but there are still misconceptions. “I’ve learn to not worry about them too much. Don’t listen to the good, don’t listen to the bad either.” He just focuses on doing everything to the best of his abilities and making the most of his life.

“If you’re hurting or if you’re unsure, if you’re worried, you know just give it time…I know that people do go to dark places…Give it time, reach out, keep working through it.” 

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