July is Disability Pride month. For the record, if you hadn’t already figured out, I’m disabled. And very very proud to be so.
83% of disabled people aren’t born so. For the majority of us then, it’s a convoluted journey to accept our disability. Some never get there. It’s a further scramble to learn to be proud of our disability. Society and attitudes aren’t particularly helpful there.
On July 2nd I attended https://www.parallellifestyle.com/windsor2023…(in Windsor Great Park). As an ambassador. As a participant and fundraiser. And hugger of lots of other disabled and non-disabled people.
It was a fabulous celebration of disability and inclusion. Disabled and non-disabled people *together*. Enjoying company, achievements, celebrating, laughing. Hi-Fiving. Almost as if we’re normal. Which we bloody are.
So since when was I disabled?
Technically, I guess 1992, with my first symptoms. Intense pins and needles all down my left side for three days. I ignored them. They went away.
When I started having a leaky bladder, mid 90s? Erectile dysfunction (floppy willy!) soon after? A sensation of running through treacle, 1998?
When I was diagnosed with MS, May 1st 2007? Probably then, though I launched heavily into denial as a coping mechanism.
A couple of years later, I confessed to the barista in Leighton Buzzard I was ‘partially disabled’ in asking her to bring my coffee to my table. I was still avoiding any contact with anyone using a wheelchair. Not for me. Never!
When I first walked into the office using a walking stick? Then crutches, then a Walker? Yeah, defo disabled. But I didn’t often say the word outside disabled parking rows and glares…
Since when did I accept disability as part of my life and ultimately become proud of it?
I think I can point to two moments:
1. When I launched into a secondary career of public speaking and instantly, invariably owned the room.
2. Discovering and falling in love with Wheelchair Rugby in my late 40s. I could play a contact sport. And I wouldn’t have dreamed of the possibility of bashing and being bashed had I been non-disabled.
I’m raising money for the wonderful http://www.shift.ms. Trying to walk 100 metres – with support. And rests. It’s gonna be my personal marathon. Or Everest… please please help me being disabled and proud….
Medically retiredly and proud disabledly…