Daily Paralympics / 11 February 2016
Recently, I’ve had a few falls that knocked my confidence about. The thing about falling is that I always manage to get back up again; for those watching it’s quite shocking, however, for me it’s a regular activity. My bodily balance isn't in equilibrium at the best of times but I try to deal with it in a positive way, adding my favourite word "Whoops-a-daisy!" to my daily dialogue.
I wrote a piece about the Paralympics 2012, published in Disabled World. Now in Rio, Brazil it’s all happening again. I thought it would be interesting to share this piece with DAO as a reminder of the last leap year and what is feels like to be a disabled person in everyday life...
The Paralympics 2012 was an inspiration - those athletes were far from perfect; those professionals trained hard, worked for their success and found it. However, this does not happen to us all. For most people with disabilities, the Paralympics challenge is what we have to face every day of our lives from the moment we get up in the morning right through to the end of the night. We do not dwell on the negative side; instead, it is the success from inception through these obstacles that makes it all worthwhile…
Basic survival becomes very dangerous for someone who is a wheelchair user, someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, accidental damage or a combination of all these disabilities - be it physical, mental, sensory, emotional or developmental: spasms, jerks, lack of control, medications, doctors, hospitals, special schools and care homes.
Leading a normal life as homeowners, finding partners, having families and kids is hard. It’s an unprofessional Paralympics game - the tasks we have to teach ourselves - then train with pain sometimes without the gain (so watch out injuries here we come!)
Simple tasks taken for granted like washing, walking, daring to drink without spillage; difficulty with talking, multi-tasking is a game of its own, carrying a cup of tea, dinner on a plate, serving oneself can be amusing.
Prepare meals: chop, slice, burns, scalds - ouch! It is tough. Dare to eat while people stare. Clearing up and dropping stuff - utensils, cutlery goes flying, crockery smashing, “Whoops I think I’m crashing!”
Looking good to go out visiting our family, friends - dressing, buttons, zips, laces, Velcro, belts, make-up and so much messing, it’s not easy going out to have fun or just a night out with friends. We have to depend on carers/others and taxis. Obstacles obstruct us like doors, tight spaces, steps, lifts, ramps - excluded from the crowd and feeling like fixed clamps. Holidays sometimes are just impracticable because of the trouble we cause others.
Earning a living is sometimes not possible, yet with the right equipment, it is never impossible. Getting mobile with driving lessons and specially adapted vehicles - invaluable for those who can manage it. Managing, dodging, battling with busy shops, crossing roads, bus journeys and bus stops, coping with queues and banks, dropping coins all over the floor and notes flying off from the grasp of our hands – no thanks!
Appearing the fool and drawing attention, life is appalling at times, but we don’t complain, we just smile and carry on. People assume that we are drunk or on strange pills. Never judge a book by its cover; you will miss the real story, in fact, we are more than what meets the eye, we learn to believe that we too can touch the sky.
Ideally, we set an example of equality. It is easy to be deluded by disability, to be blinded by lack of awareness, having little wisdom and responsibility, leading to injustice and unfairness.
Let your eyes see beyond your mind,
Surprise yourselves with what you find,
Let your thoughts go beyond restrictions, delusion,
Imagine a world we all fit in as one - all inclusion.