Disability Etiquette

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The following is from a very dear friend who is extraordinary in so many ways and I am inspired by her strong spirit and faith. These are her words and she wishes to remain anonymous.

“Someone once said to me, ‘everyone knows you are disabled except you’. I do not know how to be disabled. For one thing, I wasn’t born this way.

“In fact, I was a very active woman who had a full life with two beautiful children and a loving husband. I ate healthy, went to church and had a wonderful life. Then one day my life changed forever. My independence was taken away by a traumatic brain injury. I am a survivor and have learned to live with this disability.

“Learning to navigate the world through different lenses would be my greatest accomplishment. I would meet new friends and so many would come to help me on my journey. My job each morning is to wake up early and meet the day with a positive attitude. It is not in my nature to complain, so I do my best to make a life for myself. I go to the gym, yoga at Ocean Bliss, get manicures and pedicures, haircut and enjoy going out to eat. All this with the support of my loving husband who is a very good man and without him I would not be where I am today. I count my blessings for my faith in God and this wonderful man.

“No more multi-tasking for me. I am better off doing one thing correctly rather than do a million things wrong. My brain does really well with routine. Visual reminders help but sometimes they get sabotaged by people trying to be helpful. If I can do it, let me do it. If I make a mess, so what! Let me try. I need to be useful and purposeful. I am a very intelligent woman and this is the new me.

“I have more of an understanding of the terrible two’s, it is out of frustration that you can’t do something. It’s a new life, new perspective. Don’t hold on to the old life, live the new life. Acceptance is everything.

“Support groups are helpful. You get to see the many different levels of injury. The hardest thing is waiting for a change that may not ever come. Not everyone has a full recovery.

Do things when you think of them, otherwise they go to neverland. Shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t! (How many of us can relate to this!)

“Moving feels better than not moving. Learn to accept assistance. Say yes more often, it’s not automatically no.

“Make a list and now find the list! Say thank you. Have faith. Sometimes I feel like a big baby because I am very dependent on others. Routines help. You know what to expect.

“Swallow your pride. Accept the good help, good friends, new and old.

Angels are all around you, make friends with them. Turn no one away.

“Getting up early, facing the day and knowing my spouse would want me that way is what gets me out of bed each morning. Everything takes time. If I have a 10 a.m. yoga class, I am waking up at 6 a.m. to get ready. I have learned to make myself breakfast and lunch. I am fully independent when it comes to certain activities.

“I have Faith! Thank you, God and to my loving husband. I am grateful for this life.”

The above was shared with me one day over lunch. This woman is the real deal. She is divine grace. You will know her when you see her because she is kind, compassionate and full of love. Stop, say hello and be a friend. Do not sabotage her plans, everything she does is for a reason. She is a very intelligent woman and she is not disabled. Not in my eyes.

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