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Why I'm Hopeful as a Newly Disabled Woman Seeking a Job

Seven months ago I slipped on concrete, fell and broke my left kneecap in half. Days later I went into surgery to have it repaired, but due to unfortunate complications I am now living with femoral palsy. After tests, doctors, imaging, and many forms of rehabilitation and treatments, my femoral nerve is still not functioning, so my leg muscles have atrophied and my knee movement is limited. Wearing an awesome custom leg brace and using a cane, I am looking to get back into the working world.

I recognize employers cannot discriminate; however, I’m new at navigating this situation and have been very forthcoming, which may not be necessary. But in the spirit of honesty, I have been telling potential employers and recruiters about my disability and reassuring them this will not hinder my drive and performance. I was even thinking of getting a little folding scooter to help me get around faster!

It’s strange to not feel like I’m at 100 percent, but I must accept that this disability does not define me. I have learned so much from this experience, and know these things will make me even stronger in the workforce.

Adapt. This could be said about anything in life, but I think having to relearn simple things like walking, using the restroom, getting around makes it so one must adapt no matter how difficult or challenging the situation. I’m finding there is always a solution or an alternative way. So much is possible when you take a breath, think about it, and just adapt.

Stay positive. Stay humble. Laugh. Everyone has commented on how my attitude is so positive, and how that will get me far. But I’ve also learned to stay humble as others have their stories. Having a positive attitude can be contagious; so is laughing. I know that even though this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced, I can and will create positive results by looking at the bright side.

Ask questions. Get the data. When this first happened, I did most of what the doctors said, but now I am my own health advocate. By asking questions and researching on my own, I am learning more about doctors, nerves, muscles, treatments, support groups, insurance, mechanics of braces, and mental health. I have a four-inch binder full of my records, my research and my story. By getting the data I made some different decisions which lead me to my new team of health care providers.

Never give up. This probably goes without saying, but it needs to be said. There have been moments where I was pretty sad, dealing with the potential loss of my leg function, but every day I get up, I get out of bed, I face my fears, I press on. I smile, I laugh, I meet with people, I learn, I grow. I never, ever give up.

Through this all, I still have hope that one day somehow my nerve will heal, I will walk without a prosthetic brace, and I will get my leg and knee back. In the meantime, I want to work again, utilize my skills and services, and feel satisfied I’m contributing to the world again. I admire people who live with far more challenging disabilities and do not let their situation hold them back. I have met some amazing folks during this process and look forward to meeting many more. I am thankful for the huge amount of support I’ve received as I’m learning to live differently. Thank you friends, family, and old and new colleagues for the ongoing assistance while I embark on my next adventure.

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