Being Whole Again Part II

Moving Forward Series


Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

I have learned so much just by observing others.

I’ve seen people use our vulnerability to sell us everything and anything.  And, we will pay with the hope of some sort of high standard of loyalty from someone that understands!

I’ve seen hired help go from being an unlicensed home therapist with added healing techniques, to suddenly charging small change to paint our disabled ladies nails at a disability event.  Then, all of a sudden, I saw this same person as a professional photographer, once again, hired by a peer.

I paid her to paint my nails too.  I recognize the need to feel pampered without running into the possibility of a spa specialist unable to serve you for many different reasons.  For instance, they don’t want to take the risk of giving you a pedicure and you not able to check if the water is hot.  Or quite simply, because you don’t have the ability to get on their spa chairs equipped with a footbath, and different tensions to massage your back while seated. Many just don’t have big plastic tubs as apart of their supplies, which, in my case, has been a good solution.    `I can understand what it means to see someone actually want to do something like that for us.  And, we will pay just so we feel included.

I did eventually find a salon that has served me for many years without any hesitation.  I always have a wonderful experience.  I explained to them just how they could actually include me.

Needless to say, some of us don’t see it when we are being taken advantage of.  I have often wondered why such solicitors of service feels as if we can actually afford to pay them?  And, there is where the problem lies, we can’t but we do.

As a single disabled mother with two infants I have been ‘that’ easy target!  It is also the reason why I am a skeptic.  I have been and seen others get burned too many times.

At first, I used to think that this attitude wasn’t good and I had become jaded.  Then, just as quickly, I concluded that I wasn’t jaded, but am actually able to spot a fake friend a mile away.

For example, many years ago I spoke at a church about living with faith versus fear. I met some genuine friends.  Then, there were two, a mother and son who approached me.

They said,  “ God brought us together for a reason. We have something that will be of great help with your paralysis.”

After their insistence, I invited them to my house.  They wanted me to buy magnetic products that would help me rejuvenate my nerves.  I was only two years into my paralysis. I did look at everything that had the potential of helping me walk again.

I even had a mother of a son also with a spinal cord injury give me the same concoction he drank.   I couldn’t even get it passed my lips without wanted to heave.

These are elements of happens to our mind when we are traveling the road of grief.

We want something so much more that we seldom find.   It is the hope that someone will actually listen to us and make us feel like we do matter.

In my experience, and reconfirming this theory by watching others go through the same, I have found that there is a pattern in the grief of someone that is now living with a disability.  It encounters the first four years of our post disability.  In my case specifically, it was a spinal cord injury.

The first year, we are shocked, stunned and baffled.  We are also very hopeful for a positive outcome.  For many there is, but for those, like myself, really do know deep down there is only hope.  Hope that something will come up in the not so distant future that will bring us with a better outcome.  We will even seek it in different countries, pay for it, be in a research experimental program, and the list just goes on.

The second year, we have hopefully with help from experienced physical and occupational therapists, we begin to understand why they make us do all those funny exercises. With their fine teaching, we are getting better at functioning beyond our impairment.

One of my therapists made me stretch my arms back as far as they could go. Of course, we started off gently, but in time, for a short petite person with short arms, I was able to have a good reach in my manual chair as a functioning paraplegic.

For those of us that have gained some further movement in our effected limbs, the hope is with more work, the stronger that will become.

In my case, I hoped.  With all the programs I got myself into, including the veteran’s memorial hospital in my city (No, I am not a Vet), I worked tirelessly. They researched how far I could gain mobility by walking on a treadmill while being held up by a harness hanging above me on the machine.  This was eighteen years ago.  Treatment has evolved.

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