All this time, since that fateful day a little over a year ago, I’ve had my mind focused on getting to this point. I’ve had it in my head that making it one year will big a big turning point, and everything will start to get back on track. In some respects, this has happened, and I’ll explain how below. However, there are still so many things that I have to deal with on an almost daily basis. Read on to learn and listen to me complain!
As part of a spinal cord injury there are a few complications that come along for the ride. If we were to use a car analogy, if you have any kind of spinal injury then even the base spec comes with a set of complications, designed purely for your inconvenience. I’ve spoken about these issues before, but as a quick reminder: bladder and bowel issues often mean people have to use catheters, have a specialised bowel management programme (basically a plan on which they go to the loo), and the combination of having to have a specialised plan with an uncooperative body can often lead to, let’s say, accidents. So that obviously is no fun at all. Unfortunately it is all just part of daily living with an SCI, and is the part that thankfully is usually unseen by the greater majority of the population.
We hear the term ‘invisible disability’ used a lot nowadays which I think is brilliant, but whether or not a disability is ‘visible’, it doesn’t mean that one is easier or simpler than the other. There are so many parts to any given person that go unseen, and when you have a disability you simply add to your facets. The reason I mention parts of an otherwise obvious disability is that just because someone is in a wheelchair, that isn’t necessarily an indication that the only obstacle they face is physical movement and access, as even when they can move about freely there may be difficulties to overcome such as accessing toilets, using standard tables, turning around without taking the paint off the walls… the list could go on forever.
In a very positive move, I have been offered a super exciting job, doing something I really think I can be good at and sink my teeth into. However, even the prospect of starting work is daunting for someone like me. I plan my life around medication times, management of the plumbing as I mentioned earlier, and of course I have to take into account everything from how long it takes me to get ready on a morning, the time getting in and out of a vehicle, using accessible entrances… As someone very much in the infancy of their lifelong disability, the idea of going back to work is both incredible and terrifying. How will I work my medication times when I work night shifts? How will I have time to shower and get ready when even putting on my socks takes minutes and not seconds like it would if I were still able bodied? As I said above there are so many things that go unseen with any given disability; these questions and so many more are just waiting to be answered, although how and where I will get the answers from remains a mystery for now.
One thing that really does play a part in disability (or at least in my experience) is mental health. Obviously I have talked about it a bit before, but I am going to focus a lot more on it in future; both in practice and in my writing. Something like a new job is obviously a very exciting time, but it is unbelievably stressful too, and not just for the reasons above. As well as them I have to think about silly things such as the uniform; if the trousers are going to leave me with pressure sore risks, I’ll have to speak to occupational health. What about using a desk and computer at the right height? Will I be able to navigate the building easily? I know all of these things are easily resolved and are a while away yet, but you can’t help but worry; it comes with the territory. Thankfully I do have Sarah to keep me thinking straight, but in turn I do not want to pass all of my stress onto her, as she has her own life to get back to. That said she is my rock, and I like to think I offer her at least a fraction of what she gives me in support. Like every couple we have ups and downs, good days and bad, but at the end of those days we have each other and for that I am thankful.
Well, that’s it for another one. A nice bit of news there I think, although some of you may have already known about the job as I can’t keep my mouth shut I’m that excited. Plenty more to come soon, possibly as soon as monday. Watch this space, and thanks for reading!