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The process of coping and overcoming  a disability can be a daunting task, and is often one of the most  challenging points in a person’s life. When I look at my father standing out in the porch, laughing while he swings my daughter around in his arms, it is difficult to imagine that just a few years ago we thought we were going to lose him while he battled diabetes. To add to all of our distress, he had a major wound eating away at his limbs. As I look at him now, happiness glowing on his face, it takes a lot not to cry.

Disabilities Are an Inherent Part of Life

Disabilities are an inherent part of life. As we get older, it is only normal that certain parts of our body would start to fail. When that happens, we start to lose the ability we have to do certain things. It is essential to readjust our lives around this and learn to cope. This is easier said than done. When my father was diagnosed with diabetes, it should not have come as a shock; it is a disease that is easily managed. However, the unfortunate part was that he was diagnosed after a large injury to his calf refused to heal. Over the space of a year, the injury crept upwards until we had to decide if we needed to amputate his entire leg. In all of that while, we watched grimly as my father lost his joy and passion for life. Visiting him at the hospital meant looking at his gaunt face and ravaged leg; this hurt so much more than anything my family had ever faced.

Preparing

The first stages are mostly for acceptance and preparation. The more accessible everything you need is, the more comfortable you will be. You should organize yourself properly, especially in the early days of the disability. Note which arrangements will need to be made. Some of these arrangements should include: Being sure that you are covered monetarily-this may include filing appropriate documents for worker’s compensation, handling legal issues, dealing with hospital bills, and preparing for future expenses, such as rehabilitation. Most immediately as you prepare to head home after the hospital, be sure to get all your necessities close to you, making provision for your toilet and bathroom needs, and arrange for transportation.

Family

It definitely helps to have family and friends around you at times like this. You should be patient with people when you are coping with a disability; no one can benefit if you are irritable and rude. My father was very irritable in the first few weeks after the amputation, but he eventually began to turn around and that was when the healing could really begin. However, if you notice you are irritable to people, do not beat yourself up for it. It is expected, you are not exactly at your happiest and your loved ones will understand. Keep in mind that having a more positive mindset will help a thousand-fold. One of the most important things to note when coping with a disability is the ability to smile. Once you can do that, the rest comes easy.

Exercise

Remember to exercise often, even if seems counterintuitive at the time. It is easy to give up on exercise when you are overcoming a disability. Exercise not only keeps your body fit, but your mind also. You also win over your body when you exercise. Do not give into the temptation to let your body waste away. Whatever exercise you are able to manage, it is a victory. My father began a process of rehabilitation that also involved plenty of exercise. In time he overcame the pains of his disability. Looking at him now, so much joy on his face as he swings his grand-daughter around even from his wheelchair, makes me realize how tough but how rewarding overcoming a life challenge like this can be.

What helped you overcome your disability? What was your biggest challenge?