When I started blogging, my aim was to empower disabled people and help to educate Society on inclusion. Nearly 10 years on, Disability Horizons, my consultancy work and talks have influenced numerous businesses and encouraged hundreds of thousands of disabled people and their families.
By Martyn Sibley
However, it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. Having spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) means I have very limited strength and need a powerchair to get around. Not to forget everything else I have to think about – my shower chair, hoist and Motability car – the list seems endless. Then there’s the money and admin hours that go alongside them.
Health-wise, SMA has given me many tired winters with antibiotics, and the odd case of pneumonia thrown in for free. At age 15 I had two seven-hour operations for my spinal fusion.
Don’t even get me started on the need for care. I remember going away for the first time to university and being petrified at the thought of four complete strangers helping me to shower. Not all at the same time, thankfully – but recruiting and managing carers continues to be a challenge to this day.
Fortunately, with every obstacle comes a workaround. At heart I’m quite a chilled, nomadic kind of guy. But planning and routine are a disabled person’s best friend. By knowing when I’ll wake up, eat, work, chill, socialise and sleep, I can find solutions. I’ve also spent time finding the right tech support to help run my daily life.
For my health, I’ve changed my diet to keep the weight off and my immunity up. I’ve even bought a hand bike with motorised assistance, to get my heart rate going.
I’m in my groove now, but it wasn’t always this way. For someone that speaks regularly, it might be hard to believe that presentations used to make me sick with nerves. But by pushing through the fear and practising, I’ve been invited to global conferences and even presented my own BBC show.
My aim continues to be to help other disabled people to live the life they choose. On Disability Horizons, we’ve served up advice on everything from travel to relationships, and given our community invaluable peer support and a platform to be heard. For some of our writers, it’s also been a springboard to their dream career.
My main message to the world is this: everyone can be successful with their unique talents. I’m just an average guy from Cambridgeshire. Sure, I’ve struggled, but who doesn’t? Sure I’ve succeeded, but success isn’t limited to certain people. Success comes from improving yourself and helping others a little bit every day.
About Disability Horizons
Disability Horizons is an online disability lifestyle publication that aims to give disabled people a voice and supports the aim of creating a world where disabled people live exactly as they choose to. You can sign up for their newsletter to get their articles directly to your inbox.
Articles are sourced directly from their readers, making Disability Horizons a lifestyle publication about disabled people, for disabled people, by disabled people.