Life isn’t easy for anyone, but when a person has disabilities, life can become a painful obstacle course. And yet, they carry on.
Nobody’s gonna say that life is a bowl of cherries – unless they’re counting the pits, the stains, the brown ones at the bottom – and the occasional worm.
Life isn’t easy for anyone. Throw in a disability of any sort, and we’re talking about a whole new level of difficulty. Whether it’s a physical disability that is visible or invisible, a learning disability or a cognitive disability, disabilities turn normal daily activities into obstacle courses – and often painful ones, at that.
Let’s consider, for a moment, the struggles of a person who requires a walker to get around. At least he’s walking on his own two feet, right? He hasn’t lost his independence, so no big deal, right?
Imagine getting up a staircase with a walker. Remember, the walker isn’t there for display – it’s there to provide much needed support. Sure, there are stair railings – sometimes. If there is no railing, the person using a walker is forced to rely on others to help them up the stairs. But even if there is a railing, this person is using a walker, not a cane; they probably need more support than a basic railing can offer. And the difficulties don’t stop there. Even if they can get up the steps on their own, albeit with much physical struggle, how do they get the walker up the steps, as well? After all, they’re going to need to walk once they get to the next floor… Again, they are forced to give up on some of their independence and have someone else bring the walker upstairs for them.
And that’s just getting up the stairs – we haven’t even touched on taking a shower (they’ll probably need a bath bench and some well-placed grab bars to do that alone), getting into bed (and a bed rail for that) and getting through narrow doorways.
Now imagine having a close relative with heavy incontinence. Sometimes they make it to the bathroom – and sometimes they don’t. And when they don’t, it almost never happens in a convenient way. You could be in the mall, about to fall asleep or in the middle of watching your favorite TV show, and then your plans go out the window, because it’s changing time, whether you like it or not. And this is heavy incontinence we’re talking about – so for all you know, the mess might be everywhere. If the brief, underwear or whatever else your loved one may be using as wearable protection is the wrong size or absorbency level, it’s very possible you’re dealing with a situation that will need more than one pair of hands. Even if the wearable protection is the right size and all, nothing is guaranteed – especially with incontinence.
Caring for a loved one with incontinence can complicate almost every detail of your life. Take, for example, travelling. Travelling with someone who is incontinent necessitates preparing for the worst, which would include, for example, bringing along a few extra pairs of pants, some chux to protect the car seat, several changes of diapers, underwear or pads, a pack of wipes and several pairs of disposable gloves.
And the examples go on – getting over the curb with a wheelchair, explaining your invisible disability to the rude (or just clueless) stranger, getting through school with a learning disability, avoiding bedsores while bedridden… It just doesn’t end.
But you know what? Most of those people, the ones who actually live these disabilities every day of their lives, are putting on a brave face, smiling at passerby and moving forward, one day at a time. They’re holding on and enjoying the small things in life. They’ve learned to notice the chirping of the birds, the rays of sunshine coming through the trees, the gift of living one more day on this planet.
And to all of us looking in from the outside, they are an inspiration.
So to all you warriors out there who live with any type of disability, or care for a loved one with a disability, we stand by you. We know your struggles, we know how very real the pain can be – and we never cease to be amazed by your determination and bravery in the face of all the challenges life has thrown your way.