How do you cope when you’ve recently become disabled?
I know everyone is different and I can only share how I managed in hopes that some of you can relate to it and take something away from this.
In March 2005 I was in a motorcycle accident. I was struck by a hit-and-run driver and knocked under a gravel lorry. I spent five weeks in a coma and six months in hospital. When I finally came home, I endured another year and a half in a hospital bed while life continued around me. My already failing marriage went from bad to worse and eventually we separated. I found myself home alone and dealing with many of these changes by myself, excepting help from friends and family. I struggled both mentally and physically.
Much of this time I spent thinking to myself about how things would get better and that I had a lot to live for but deep down, I didn’t believe it. During this period, someone gave me the autobiographies of Christopher Reeve ‘Still Me’ and ‘Nothing is Impossible’ and one thing I read still sticks with me today. He said: “At first you try to get better for the sake of others around you who want you to get better, but eventually you start to realise you’re doing it for yourself”. I’m paraphrasing but this eventually became my mantra.
In January 2007 it was decided that the best way for me to regain some of my mobility was to have my left leg amputated at the hip. I was so ready to rebuild my life, I even had my leg tattooed “See you later!”
After my amputation, I started to be able to do some of the things I missed, such as being able to stand upright (using aids), and I could finally brush my teeth at the sink or answer my own front door. These little things were big accomplishments for me. I knew I’d never be able to do all the things I used to but I also realised that I could slowly rebuild my life into something new. I have remarried and moved to the UK.
I have managed to build a new life doing things I never dreamt of before my accident. It’s not the future I originally envisaged, but in many ways it’s better and I am definitely happier than I was, even before my accident.
If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones. Start thinking about doing it for them. Eventually you will learn how to do it for you.
About Ruben Carol
Ruben is a disability access and inclusion specialist, trainer and facilitator and has had the pleasure of training organisations, including TfL and Uber.
He’s also an actor, VO artist, and public speaker. Appearances include Good Omens, His Dark Materials and Doctors.
You can find him on Facebook and Instagram @Ruben.Carol.Actor