Coming to terms with my growing level of disability has been very difficult.

Before my initial injury in 2013 -when I herniated two discs in my neck- I had been an active person. Whilst overweight, I walked a mile or so a day on steep hills, and one of my main hobbies was combat focused Live Action Roleplay (dressing up as fantasy characters and playing out scenarios and battles).

As soon as I hurt my neck, movement became a luxury; any motion caused agonising pain. Then, as I was misdiagnosed, and incorrectly treated, I developed nerve damage in my arms and shoulders, losing all the strength that I was once so proud of.

Eventually, I developed severe chronic migraines, and depression. I lost my job due to the amount of time I had been off sick. The exhaustion due to the pain, and the medication, was causing me to sleep 15 hours a day, and be dizzy and unstable on my feet.

I still couldn’t think of myself as disabled though, even when it was so screamingly obvious. I had internalised the ableist attitude that disability is only people who can’t walk at all, who are ‘confined’ to wheelchairs.

I eventually decided to buy a cane to support myself, and immediately saw a benefit. Then in May 2016 I bought a manual wheelchair, which has provided me with the ability to leave the house safely when accompanied. Due to the nerve damage, my arms are too weak to push myself, but it has still helped to get me out of the house.

Only now, am I beginning to accept my identity as a Disabled woman. Sometimes it still feels wrong; like a coat that I’ve borrowed that doesn’t quite fit, and I am scared that someone will call me out for pretending to be something I’m not. However, it is also oddly empowering; I have a community, there are others like me, and we are pretty damn amazing.

I don’t think of ny wheelchair as confining, I find it freeing. Not freeing enough, as I am dependent on others to push me, but better than before, when I could go a few steps before collapse.

Right now, I’m raising funds for an electric wheelchair, so that I can have my wheels be under my own control. If you would like to help me have my wheels become my wings, please visit:

https://www.youcaring.com/heatherlaw-767384

Thank you.

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