Assistance, support from others vital to surviving with a disability
What did I survive? I survived a traumatic brain injury as well as severe internal injuries with resulting partial paralysis on my left side from head to toe.
I was blessed by the skillful hands of my surgeon. I was delivered on the wings of angels, and given God’s grace in my tiny damaged body as I was taken to one of the best trauma hospitals in the City of St. Louis, Mo.
I have the gift of a spiritual connection with powers higher than my capacity to grasp, but the capability to understand those powers and that connection. I was truly lucky to be born into my family and live in my community.
My father was a great man and wonderful role model. He was a head chef on the railroad. My mother is a great woman and role model. She models the honor and respect one must have for self and others if one is to survive.
We lived in a community that was the epitome of a village. I survived through the love, protection, and care afforded me throughout my life from hundreds of adults and my family.
One survives being “crippled” through true grit and determination. One survives being physically challenged with the care, love, respect, protection and honor of others. One survives being differently abled with the assistance of others.
One survives a handicap by gaining self-respect, self-esteem, and honor for one’s own humanity and self-worth. One survives being disabled in the realization that I too am somebody and I do matter.
I have the God-given right to be me, through me, for me, and of me, as no other knows my ability, my expectations, my capacity, my capability, and my will except me. Finding one’s self through trial and error, success and failure, thoughts and advice, gifts and praise offers a person with a disability the opportunity to be free.
As always with success comes sacrifice. Some believe the sacrifice of “full ability” is enough. Some believe this sacrifice entitles them to not have to be productive members of society. A person with a disability is not disabled because of the condition. The disability does not define YOU. The expectation one has for living, surviving, and thriving in spite of the disability will allow you to define YOU.
Some believe only the strong survive. When you survive, what’s next? The choices are many: roads traveled by many, some traveled by a few, and some not traveled at all. Whatever your choice, let it be one that you and only you decide.
By the way, YES, YOU CAN SURVIVE!
Kenneth Brown is a disability advocate/consultant and business owner. He welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 612-518-2155.