Saturday, 11 June 2011
So this is a blog about disabilities - all kinds of disabilities - and whatever interests me about them enough to write something (which is quite a bit, you'll find; I've been involved with people with disabilities in one way or another for over half my life)
I’ve been living with physical disabilities myself for 11 years now. I walk with a cane (mainly for balance and speed now, but there was a time when I needed it just stay upright), my left arm’s range of motion is compromised, and my left hand is almost useless.
All of this happened after a stroke when I was 22. Learning to live with the after-effects wasn’t easy. The effects of the stroke were fairly severe, and I had to learn how to walk again. My left side was my dominant side, so I also had to learn how to use my right hand to write, eat, and perform all the other tasks that my left hand used to do. I also had to start to figure out how to perform one-handed the tasks that generally take two hands to do.
I did a lot of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Several months of it were done as a patient in rehabilitation hospitals, but I continued on an out-patient basis in a local clinic in my town once I left the hospital. Some days I really, really didn’t want to do it, but I also really, really wanted some semblance of the life that I used to have back, so I kept at it. Eventually I got to the point where I didn’t need the wheelchair and could walk with two canes, then to where I could use one cane, then to where I didn’t need the cane inside, and finally to where I only really need the cane for speed and balance. I barely notice it anymore when I walk; it’s an extension of my arm. I frequently leave it places and have to go back and look for it.
My arm and hand haven’t regained nearly as much function as my leg, but, again, it’s not something I notice anymore. After eleven years of learning to live one-handed, I can do pretty much everything I need to do with one hand. I think it makes people a little nervous sometimes to see me carrying four plastic bags of groceries on one wrist, with my cane hooked over my arm and a case of 12 pop tucked under my elbow, but I live on my own – if I don’t find a way to do something, I either have to get someone to come help me (and I just don’t like bothering people unless it’s really necessary), or I have to find some way to do it myself, or it doesn’t get done. For most things that I have to do on a day-to-day basis, I just fall into my one-handed ways automatically, and it’s no big deal.
Acquiring disabilities has been a huge eye-opener – and a huge heart-opener. I’ve been volunteering with people with disabilities since I was 15 years old, and I work with teens with disabilities now. My experience has profoundly changed the way I relate to them, and how their experiences touch me. I've written about it before (more on that later), but I need to get back to it, and hopefully this is a good place to do it.
But I won't just talk about myself. That'd be rude. There are many, many things to talk about on a blog like this, and I hope you stick around. If you like what you read, please consider "liking" the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Girl-With-The-Cane/166326266765530?ref=ts) or following me on Twitter (@GirlWithTheCane)
Please get in touch with me via Facebook, Twitter, or email@example.com if you have any questions or comments...you can leave comments on the posts themselves too, if you didn't know that already. I love hearing from readers!
Have a great Sunday!