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Play Your Cards Right…

I’m frequently told that I need to ‘Play the Disabled Card’ (apparently because everyone else does), but do we really need to go endlessly on about how hard life can be, or just get on with it..? How do we even define Disability..?

There are many ways to define a Disability in law, but this one makes sense to me – ‘A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities’. What I would allow as a caveat is choice. The choice to be disabled or enabled. Let me explain…

The choices we make in life, may define who we are and how we live. It is not for others to label us or place their values upon our lives. Though certain legal positions may exist, we need to choose whether we abide by the concepts of society. After any life changing incident many will be bombarded with oceans of sympathy and pity. Though these are soft pillows in which to reside for a short while, only action, determination and resilience should be allowed define us. Here’s a shining example…

A number of years ago I was on a train heading into Birmingham. Opposite me was a young man with a hand injury. After suffering frostbite, I’ve always taken a keen interest in other people’s adversities. The man was in the military and had suffered a hand injury in Afghanistan. He was travelling to a medical appointment at Selly Oak and regardless of his injuries; was extremely keen to return to the front line. He spoke with great passion about the comradeship he experienced and the support offered in medical and physical adaptions so he could continue to live his dream.

Having worked with the military on a number of occasions; one phrase came to mind: ‘You take out of any situation what you take into it’. If you go into any incident highly motivated then you are more likely to come out of it with that motivation. I thought back to my time in Alaska when the medical staff explained that many of their pro bono cases have little opportunity or will to change their situation and therefore become ‘frequent flyers’ in adversity.

I mountaineer and travel, which everyone comments on, but few have seen the pain of getting out of bed, the fumbling with my hands (which is getting worse), the deadening of the nerve response in my arms or extensive care my feet require. I choose to take the very best care of myself, because I fear what is coming for later life, but there’s no point moaning about it. Embracing what we have rather than what we don’t is vital to how we live.

Often after injury others are quick to help. Help with mobility, daily activities and personal care to name a few. Sometimes help is required and welcomed, sometimes it is more than necessary which can impede recovery as well as independence. All parties must learn where the line is drawn and learn to walk that tightrope. It is the only way that everyone in society can help each other and more importantly understand one another. If you don’t let us learn, we can never improve, but If we never ask for help, we’ll never improve either. This skill would be transferable to other issues within our current society.

Frostbite – is it a unique selling point? Or is it more the fact that no matter what has happened; I have chosen to stand up on what is left of my own two feet and carry on!

As Jesse Dufton states in the film ‘Climbing Blind‘ – ‘I’m not Disabled, I’m Blind and Able’

If you’d like to watch my extended video log, please click below…

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