For me, this next resolution has not been very difficult to accept. After all, I was born with cerebral palsy. I've had the wheelchair, the spinal curvature, the spasms and so on my whole life. I never understood why people had such a hard time accepting new physical conditions. It was, I always figured, better than the alternative. The people who would walk up to me in the street and say, "If I were like you, I'd off myself.” made me rage at their rudeness and wonder at their ridiculous misunderstanding of my life. However, when I got injured, I suddenly realized what a major life operation shift can mean. Due to one bathroom slip I needed to be cut open and put back together. I could no longer use public washrooms because I needed a hoyer lift. My spasms, allergies, and immune system were out of control. For days, I could do nothing but watch TV.
This experience is what brings me to my third resolution for people with disabilities (PWD). It is vital that anyone who is experiencing a new impairment or an increase function loss acknowledge what's happening. By doing so you can open yourself up to the wonderful, supportive disability community. We've all been there. Some of us our whole lives. Some of us six months ago. I hope the following list of tips helps you regain yourself, which is way more important than whatever function you may or may not get back.
- Be honest. This applies to with yourself, with friends, with family, with rehabilitation professionals. Deluding yourself helps no one. While you may (and probably don't) like what's going on right now it is what it is. Until you can deal with it you aren't going to be able to apply logical thought and figure out ways to work with it or get around it.
- Use whenever supportive equipment you need to function at your highest capacity. The use of such devices is not giving in its reclaiming. There are many programs that allow you to borrow equipment are you are waiting for insurance approval. Take advantage of them.
- Realize you're not going to be at pre-injury capacity for a while, even in areas not directly affected. Probably a while longer than you want to admit. Inform employers, voluntary activities, and even people you hang out with of this reality. Perhaps there's a way you can keep up without taxing your already taxed body.
- Know and remember that someone somewhere has done exactly what you wanted to do with a greater level of limitation than you have. Many activists who use wheelchairs, lift equipment, interpreters, and ventilators contribute to various social change movements. Don't believe me? Look here or here. Wanderlust doesn't need to be a desire only fed when one is able-bodied. Dancing, even on a professional basis, is possible for every body. From science fiction fandom to classical music, I'd be willing to bet that some PWD has started a disability-centered centered group for it. If not, be the pioneer! While I am not saying that all your friends should be PWD, I have found it most helpful when going through a function change. They understand. They have been there. They survived.
- If you are into liberation movements or progressive politics, I caution you against broadcasting all of your angst over what is happening with your body on publicly visible social media platforms such as blogs, Facebook, or Twitter. While you have every right to feel however you feel such postings may unfortunately increase the devaluing of PWD in the community and may even cause misguided members to make them targets of violence.
- Don't give up! While you may at some point decide the quest to reacquire a skill is not worth the effort that’s not a reason to stop living. Whether or not you see, walk, hear, get out of bed, or whatever ever again you are always a person with value. Find a way to share yourself with the world.