March is National Disability Awareness Month. Being honest, I never acknowledged the importance of it until now. As a person with a disability, I should have paid more attention. We’ve accomplished quite a bit, but we still have a ways to go.
Towards the end of February, I began the journey once again with physical therapy. This has been an ongoing process for me since I was a kid. I would go in filled with so much promise, and each time I would find a way to let myself down and discontinue my sessions. Sometimes I think about how far I could be if I would have kept up with it, but I know I shouldn’t dwell on the past. I don’t think I took it as seriously back then, but now as an adult, I do. Physical therapy is needed to continue and improve my mobility, and I can do things I didn’t know I was capable of doing.
The Bible states in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” My faith is important to me and I believe all things are possible through God, so I made it a point to start over and commit to physical therapy. Part of that commitment was learning to familiarize myself with using a walker again. With this being National Disability Awareness Month and a time to raise awareness about people with disabilities and the amazing things we’ve accomplished, I felt what better way to bring awareness than to list five things I’ve learned since getting back up on a walker.
1. All hope is not lost. There was a time when I thought I would never be able to use my walker again. That staying in my wheelchair was the only option. It’s never too late to set a goal for yourself and work towards attaining that goal.
2. Your body changes as you get older. Using my walker as a kid was like second nature to me. Now, when I am walking in therapy, it takes me a minute to get in the groove, and I am learning that it’s OK. My body isn’t what it used to be, but I am grateful to have the mobility I have.
3. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. I stopped using my walker when I entered high school, and didn’t get back up on a walker until now. The fact that I can use a walker and gain strength in my legs is an amazing accomplishment. I celebrate this opportunity and look forward to what’s to come!
4. You are your biggest critic. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” Sometimes we can be our biggest critics and feel as if we can’t achieve certain goals. But the main obstacle standing in our way is often fear. If walking again has taught me anything, it’s to let go of the fear you have inside, because it only hinders you from completing your goals.
5. Let go of feeling ashamed. There were several different emotions running through my mind before I even planted my feet on the ground, held on to those handlebars and took that first step. One of them was shame. I felt ashamed because I felt as if I couldn’t do this, that if I went out people would stare. I compared myself to other individuals who were using walkers. But during this process I’ve learned all of that shouldn’t matter. What matters is how I feel and that I am doing this for me. I shouldn’t feel ashamed about having cerebral palsy, about using a walker, or about accomplishing a goal.
I believe you must have faith, look at the positives in situations, and know you are stronger and capable of a lot more than what you give yourself credit for.
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