A New Year …

Well, it has been a “New Year” for over a month now. Although I believe something special is upon my path this year …. it still remains the same for this disabled survivor thus far! It is still very hard to adjust to my ever changing body.

Ya know, there is really nothing “new” about a new year, other than the turn of the clock. As for me at this moment, this is merely another year of further understanding my own disability and how little others “really” understand my world or the world of the disabled! The bias and discrimination against those who are disabled, yet try to move forward is really nothing new to those who are disable but, astonishing for some who are not.

This year brought for me an exciting trip to fly to San Diego. It was scary at first to make this travel on my own. However, I also knew I could! Aside from the complexity of finding a parking space far from the terminal, I had to carry all items myself. So, I wheeled myself and carried my luggage stacked upon my lap through the airport on my wheel chair. The airline boarded me as if I were a 12 year old and the luxury resort I was staying at booked me into a “non” ADA room. Upon my stated concern and confirmed ADA reservation, they were anxious to upgrade me to an ocean view suite with more room. However, my wheelchair would not fit into the kitchen area or bathroom. However, I was able to manage while holding onto something and walking myself in and out. While using the shower, I ultimately fell as I knew I would. The inside towel/soap holder that I hung to just wasn’t prepared for me. While lying in the tub and letting the stream of water gently hit my body, I remembered how often this had happened before. I also felt wonderful at the time for some reason despite what had occurred. I also pondered how somethings are just taken for granted….like shower’s!

When this trip was over, it was the same routine getting back through the terminal and on board the air plane to fly home. However, on this occasion I sat next to two older gentleman. When I say older, I am referring to late 60’s or early 70’s possibly. They saw me being “specially” boarded and we spoke briefly initially regarding my inability to walk. I dosed off midway during the plane ride home. I do remember hearing one of the gentleman stating that if he were paralyzed (as I), he’d “kill” himself; while the other replied “just stick me in the grave when that happens to me”. I awoke after hearing this discussion and stated to both of them that “life doesn’t end just because you have trouble walking”! One of the men began to apologize to me and turned truly empathetic. He began to inquire about me, my kids and how I managed my overall life. He seemed surprised to hear my responses. It was as if he thought I sat in a recliner all day being cared for by another or further yet, in a hospital bed.

Upon finally returning home, I had planned on interviewing for a new job. A position I had previous experience with and had expressed interest in for months. I had recently spoken with the Director of this position who informed me that I would be contacted for a interview date. An initial interview was set for me for when I was to be out of town, but a new one was to be re-set for me the following week. I never received that call. Upon my return, I called the Director and was informed that she “had to move” and had filled the position(s). Despite my 9 years experience in that very position, she had hired staff that were not trained. I wasn’t going to get the opportunity that I had long awaited and anticipated. Upon further speaking with my colleague(s), I was informed that it had been mentioned that “possibly” due to my disability, she was reluctant to hire me as she felt I could not handle the early morning schedule that “only” occurred two days per week; nor did she believe I had the mobility to get around the court house and do the job (as I use both a walker or wheel-chair to depend upon). Upon conferring with friends, I did what most disabled people do, I gave in! I let the county discriminate against me as I knew filling a complaint would never get me hired by the very same county that I wanted to work for. Creating conflict and attention would only bring more. My philosophy…. “It is what it is” certainly applies here!

As the year lightly and gently rolls onward, although nothing has changed to lessen the misguided, I will always stay positive! My goals shall remain the same! I have began my work again in my field(s) of expertise where I feel comfortable! I have structured a “No-Fall” work out regiment with lots of walking. I feel good and don’t care about the perceptions of other’s as they have no control over my today. I am going to sky dive and ski in the coming months while preparing for a summer triathlon! My long anticipated book regarding my own journey will be out soon. Although the world may continue to sit still and numb toward understanding the disabled … I’m continuing to move forward and it’s still a new year!