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Living With Multiple Disabilities

Editor's Note: Carole Robertson is President of AEBC's Toronto, Ontario, Chapter.

Living and coping with multiple physical disabilities presents many challenges. It is both a learning experience and an opportunity for personal growth. It has led me to reach out to many friends and family for assistance, which is much appreciated.

For many years I've had back trouble, but while I was able to drive a car, it didn't present too many problems with leading a very active life. I was able to go everywhere and sit down if the need arose. However, six years ago when I lost much of my sight, the problems started to multiply.

As I learned to adapt to not seeing, a challenge in itself, I found that I was severely restricted in transportation because of my back. I could not walk or stand for more than a minute or two, so I could not rely on public transportation. I had to depend upon others to drive me everywhere. My back became worse, my diabetes became unpredictable, and I developed other complications, such as vascular disease in my legs. I started going out with a seat cane and still use it at times. I found it was less painful to use a transport chair whenever there was any distance to cover. This made it harder to go out with friends who found it difficult to lift a wheelchair into their cars.

I was spending more and more time at home. Although I was very busy, I was used to a much faster pace of life, and found that I was filling the hours with listening to taped stories and music, which would put me to sleep. This made me more sedentary.

As I am very task oriented, I started to feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled. How could I become more active, energetic and have feelings of accomplishment? This world is so interesting that there is never any reason to be bored. I became more active in the committees I already belonged to, and am attempting to learn new skills to challenge myself. I'm even considering more exercise in the hopes that it will improve my stamina and my ability to walk. Positive thinking and action, and realizing all of the wonderful things I do have, make a big difference. The challenge is continuing to be active, even if it is by taking one small step at a time. Facing multiple disabilities need not be as grim as it appears, if one learns from the experience and welcomes new opportunities.