It has taken me a very long time to accept that I have a disability. After 3 years I have accepted there is no easy fix. Indeed, there may not even be a fix and I am struggling. Struggling to adapt to my new situation and struggling to accept my disability as being part of who I am now.
What is a disability?
Under the Equality act of 2010 you are disabled if
you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.
After realising I fitted this criteria my husband encourage me to claim for PIP (personal independence payment). There are many horror stories about claims being denied to people in need but thankfully, for me, it was a very straightforward process. I provided the latest surgeons report and was accepted after a face to face meeting. After a further application to the council I received my blue badge. I have to be honest and admit I am in the minority for how smoothly this went and I still don’t understand how the fact I can use a computer proves my disability doesn’t affect my mentally?
Seeing it in black and white that I am officially classed as having a disability has made me angry. I am angry at myself. Angry at my body and angry at the adaptions I have to make to lead my life. I want to slap the children who tease my children about having a disabled Mom. There is an urge to get out of the car and give a piece of my mind to those who stare when we pull into a disabled bay. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when little old ladies walk past me and leave me for dust on the pavement. The mothers who tut when I cannot get past their pushchairs or trip over their runaway toddlers leave me flushed with embarrassment. The “Why are you still on crutches?” questions make me want to cry. It is not a choice.
Own worst enemy
I hate to ask for help. Offers to do the school run have previously been refused because I am too proud (and stupid) to admit that I need help. I will do things around the house that leave me crying with pain because I don’t want to be a burden. I want to be seen to pull my own weight. Lately though, everything has taken a turn for the worse and I have had to start asking for help. And boy does it stick in my throat.
No more school runs for me. I need to make adaptations around the house too. I struggle to cook dinner or do the ironing because I simply cannot stand long enough. Nobody wants to do the cooking or ironing but I feel like I should or I will be failing as a wife and a mom. My family deserve better and shouldn’t have to adapt their lives to enable me to live mine.
Learning to accept my disability
I have got to get a grip and accept that this is my new reality. There is no magic cure. My proposed hip surgery has no guarantees but the alternative operation is risky. My recent knee injuries have made everything worse and at the moment there is no end point. I have to accept this but also hang on to the fact that there is a possibility that surgery will help and in a year or so, after very intensive rehab I might be able to walk unaided.
So many have worse disabilities and I know I am fortunate in many ways. I can’t speak for others and how they feel. Many people with disabilities live fabulous, active lives and I admire their get up and go attitude. I can only hope that once I have processes how I am feeling now my attitude will change. Maybe it is like the stages of grief and I have to go through denial and anger and bargaining before I can accept my disability. And without trying to sound trite, it is a kind of grief.
I am grieving for the life I had and the life I expected to live.