Although I am listed as a team blogger with my son TJ, the reality is that I have allowed him to do most of the blogging. It only makes sense, as he is the person living with a disability. Being a parent is important, but it is not the same as actually living with a disability day to day.
As an advocate for those with disabilities, I have often been called on to give speeches or talks, or to even testify before our State Legislature. I can not remember how often I have mentioned that being disabled is one of the minorities you can join or become a member of at any time.
Someone who is able bodied only has to trip and fall to join the ranks of those with disabilities. A car accident, a virus or medical condition – so many things, some of them seemingly innocuous, can cause anyone, at any time to join those with disabilities.
In April of 2012 I took that step. I went from what many in the disability community call a Temporarily Able Bodied (TAB) person – to a person with a disability. The journey from TAB to disabled was relatively quick. In my case it was a major stroke that paralyzed my right side and caused limited cognitive issues.
In the months and now year since my stroke, my right side has gained most of its mobility and although I still have cognative issues, I have recovered very well. However, the fact remains that I now am classified as a person with a disability.
For those who are into classifying levels or severity, I would probably be classed as mildly disabled. However, as the old jokes goes there is no such thing as being a little pregnant. Of course I am not pregnant. Rather I have limitations that were not there before.
My friends remind me not to complain and of course they are correct. As anyone will tell you, all you can do is accept and move on. That coupled with the fact that there is still so much that I can do – keeps me mindful of the fact that I am very lucky.
You have heard or read TJ say over and over again about living your life to the fullest, despite limitations or disabilities, and of course he is right. He has lived his disability day in and day out for over 26 years and will continue to live it for as long as he is around.
As a parent, I can tell you I can not ever remember hearing him bitch or complain. Not once has he become distraught or depressed because of his disability.
He is the model that I try to emulate as I try to cope with going from TAB to a person with a disability. I am always mindful of his continuing struggle and his continuing acceptance in the face of odds that I am not sure I could handle.
The message is simple, we move on and deal with any disabilities or problems that come our way. At times we may falter or feel sorry for ourselves. So we find a model or models that help to keep us straight, keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves.
I am lucky I can look to my son for that inspiration – I can also look to so many others I have met in my work and advocacy with persons who have disabilities. I look to TJ, Heather, Manyvonne, Ian, Michelle, Linda, and so many more. I remember how they persevere and keep living their lives as best they can. And at times live their lives better than they can, even though that may not seem possible. But it is true.