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When your disabled you will face many challenges that you will have to learn to work through because they will be there whether or not you choose to accept it. Some disabilities have more developmental challenges and other people struggle more physically but whatever the struggle is, your pain is valid even if someone has it worse than you! I never understood why people compare themselves to others and get obsessed with who has it worse because at the end of the day no one cares and we all need the support from our peers. Sometimes when people see two wheelchair users they will assume that we have similar challenges and complete tasks in a similar manner but that is so far from true. It depends on your disability and ability because some people need more help than others but we all have to do tasks differently than abled people just to function. Sometimes people think me and my friend Karly have similar challenges because we both use wheelchair but our disabilities are nothing alike so we approach difficulties differently. My friend has Muscular Dystrophy which has a lot more physical challenges and I have Spina Bifida that still has physical challenges but not near as many as my friends. In this post, we collaborated and talk about how two people with totally different disabilities get difficult tasks done!
How I do it
I love grocery shopping but since my eyes don’t work together and it’s unsafe for me to drive I can’t go often because someone has to drive me. Grocery shopping alone can be difficult because of the many physical challenges I face so I always like to go with someone to get help. I always struggle with getting things on high shelves because I am short and carrying multiple items while driving my wheelchair. Since I drive a manual wheelchair using a basket is difficult for me because if I am carrying too much I can’t see where I am going or steer my wheelchair safely so shopping this way can be unsafe unless I am only getting one or two items. I might be short or it could not be set up for disabled people but I have the hardest time swiping my card at the register because I can never see what I am doing. When I get home from the grocery store my mom usually helps me brings stuff in because my chair doesn’t come in my house and she can bring in groceries a lot quicker than I can. I can usually put groceries away unless I got big items and I typically only need help bringing them in!
How Karly does it
When I go grocery shopping, I need to have someone with me because I have limited mobility and strength in my arms. Most shelves are out of reach and anything heavier than one pound is too heavy for me. Pushing a cart is difficult for me but holding a basket is doable if I balance it on my footrests. With the basket by my feet, my hands are free to drive my chair.
How I do it
Working out as a disabled person can be hard because fitness is not accessible so my routines look very different to accommodate my disability. I used to do a lot of cardio and walked about two miles a day but soon realized that was doing more harm than good and hated exercise. I actually caused quite a bit of damage to my back when I did that much cardio and it took years to repair so now I am afraid to do even a little cardio. YouTube is my best friend because you can find so many great workouts created by certified personal trainers and if you have the right balance you’ll never hit a plateau! I use two separate fitness channels because they both have different types of workouts that challenge me and I couldn’t just pick one. I don’t have the luxury of picking a video and pushing play because sometimes something I thought I could do I am only able to do the first five minutes of. It takes about an hour for me to create a routine but with all the hours I have spent to better my fitness I see no better way! The only way this would be easier and motivate more disabled people to work out is if fitness instructors staring creating accessible workouts but I don’t see that happening anytime soon because most people don’t know what it means to be accessible. Body confidence is harder for me because it doesn’t matter how many hours I spend in the gym I don’t get the same type of results as abled people and I have to try a lot harder for people to notice
How Karly does it
My Muscular Dystrophy makes it so I am physically unable to workout. I don’t have the strength or mobility required to even do basic stretches. However, I’ve found that I’m able to maintain body confidence by reminding myself that it’s not my fault that I can’t exercise. It’s not a choice I make out of laziness or negativity. Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, so I’ve chosen to accept the shape and size of mine. It does get hard sometimes, but reading and watching content from other disabled women is a big help and comfort.
Making a sandwich
How I do it
I can usually make a sandwich without difficult or needing help to do it as long as the ingredients on within my reach and I can get things easily. My mom is pretty good with putting sandwich ingredients I use reguarly where I can reach so if she is not home to help or I just want to be independent I can do it all myself. I may be able to make a sandwich without help but because of my physical disability I can do it in the same way an abled person can because it would be too hard. I usually have to grab all the ingredients I want and then go sit down to make it. I can’t stand by the fridge and may a turkey sandwich because my stability issues make it too easy to fall. Even if I have to take ten trips to put things away I always prefer that than doing something risk that could cause injury.
How Karly does it
I can do 90% of the steps to make a sandwich as long as all the different ingredients are within my reach. Anything refrigerated can be placed in one of the shelves on the inside of the door. That way I don’t have to reach inside and I can choose which height works best for me. I can reach my kitchen counter, so if the bread is left out I can grab that as well. The hardest part of making a sandwich for me is opening condiments. I can’t open jars and even containers that you squeeze are usually too heavy or hard to manage for me.
How I do it
When I was little my mom took me to tons of therapy to teach me basic skills like getting dressed so I could do it myself when I got older. I don’t need help getting dressed and the only time I require assistance is when I am recovering from a surgery and am too sore to do it on my own. There are still challenges with dressing myself even though I am able to do myself. Getting stuff off a hanger can be hard because of my stability issues so I often have to hang on to the wall to prevent myself from falling. I don’t usually like to use my crutches to get stuff off a hanger because they just get in the way. I usually prefer wearing shorts and a T-shirt because for me it’s the easiest to get on and I don’t have to worry about it dipping in the toilet or tripping over it. It still can be hard to put on a pair of shorts because I can’t stand up as easily and sometimes they get caught in my braces.
How Karly does it
I need total assistance to get dressed. In the morning, my mom will usually start by putting my pants on while I’m still in bed. It’s easier this way since I can’t stand up at all to pull them up. Once I’m in my chair, she helps me put my shirt or dress on. I can only wear clothing that is easy to stretch because my arms and legs don’t straighten out all the way. My clothes have to make up for the flexibility I lack. I usually wear sneakers or sandals that are easy to slip on because my feet are very weak and I can’t wiggle my toes loose if they get stuck inside a shoe.
I do find a little bit of freedom and control with makeup, though! It’s the one step I can do independently. I purchase products that are easy to open, like eyeshadow palettes with magnetic lids for example. I keep everything in my desk drawer so it’s all where I can easily access it.
Making the bed
How I do it
Making the bed and cleaning the sheets is something that I have to do more often than most people because I have a lot of accidents from my bladder and bowel problems. I can make the bed and clean the sheets just like most people but it’s not as easy for me and takes me three times longer because I get easily fatigues and can’t stand nearly as long without something giving out. Making my bed is like a workout for me because I can’t use my crutches for stability so I have to concentrate on my stability so I don’t fall. Sometimes if my sheets need to be changed and my mom isn’t busy I ask for help but a lot of the time I do it myself to be independent and to save time. I am currently not changing sheets by myself because I have not fully recovered from my most recent surgery and my stability is not anywhere near what it used it so I couldn’t even if I wanted to. It’s hard to walk a straight line and not fall over so I am not even going to try to do a task that requires a lot of balance and at times not holding on to anything!
How Karly does it
I have limited muscle control and struggle with simple house hold items and anything more than one pound I cannot carry because I do have the strength to do so. I fully rely on someone else to make the bed for me because I can’t stand up to put on a pair of sheets or even fold blanket to put at the end of the bed.
Disabled people with physical or developmental disabilities do not overcome challenges but we learn to work through them. When you have a physical disability there will always be some obstacle that we have to learn to work through because we live in an inaccessible world not set up for disabled people. Disability is not a one-size-fits-all approach because there are so many disabilities that may appear similar but are so different from each other and even if two people have the same disability with the same form it can affect them totally differently. I know people with Spina Bifida who have the exact same form as I do who cannot walk and have not had nearly as many surgeries as I have to maintain it. Society is always expecting disabled people to do things a certain way because it’s “normal and everyone does that way. Everyone but disabled people might do it that way and it’s frustrating that people make us feel shameful for doing things differently or expect us to work around inaccessibility. You shouldn’t feel shameful for approaaching a problem in a different way and if someone has an issues with it that’s their problem because they aren’t the ones struggling everyday! Do you struggle with completing everyday tasks and how do you work through them? Thank you Karly for collaborating with me and making this post possible! If you liked this post please comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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