What I realised when my dad became disabled

What I realised when my dad became disabled

My dad’s illness led to him becoming disabled, and it changed our lives.

My dad is a diabetic. This disease has had a detrimental effect on his health over the past few years. He has had issues with his eyesight and his feet. Thankfully, he’s had an incredible specialist by his side throughout and he’s now almost able to walk again. He has overcome many challenges, and I am immensely proud of him. However, during his treatment, my dad was in a wheelchair and considered disabled. This made me painfully aware of how ignorant I had been beforehand.

There are so many things that you don’t think about when you don’t have a disability.

You take them for granted. For example, I’d never once stopped to consider the height of steps in shops before my dad couldn’t get into them. I hadn’t had to look out for dropped kerbs that would, ultimately, determine the route from A to B. I’d also never noticed how tiny the writing is on some menus until I had to read them to my dad. These previously insignificant things became big issues in our daily lives.

I had it in my head that being in a wheelchair would perhaps even be fun.

Not having to walk all the time? Sounds fantastic! Seeing how exhausted my dad became after pushing himself along for a short distance made me realise that it’s not fun at all. It’s hard work. My dad can be stubborn, so he would do as much as he could, and we would take over when he was struggling. It was difficult to watch, but it made me wonder about those people who don’t have anyone to help them out. “Well, there’s mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs!” you could argue… except they’re not cheap. Not everybody can afford those, so what then?

It’s not that I thought it was easy having a disability. Of course, I know it’s not. Yet, I had been completely unaware of just how challenging life can be for people with disabilities. The world becomes a lot smaller. There are so many places that you can’t access for one reason or another. Like many things in life, I think you don’t fully understand it until it affects you personally. For the 27 years I’ve been on the planet, I really haven’t given it much consideration. I hadn’t known anyone who was disabled previously so I hadn’t had to. Self-centred as that it is, it’s unfortunately the truth. Then, suddenly, one of the main people in my life was in that situation and we all had to learn to adapt.

Now, I look at the world in a completely different way.

I notice things that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to before, such as where disabled parking spaces are located and how accessible places are. Even when my dad isn’t with me, I’ll look around and think to myself, “could he come here?” Where the answer is no, I get a pang of sadness and guilt for all those people with disabilities who are excluded. I’m not entirely sure how to turn these feelings into significant actions, but I’d like to think I find small ways to do my part. I consider how my dad felt in certain situations and aim to use that as a compass to guide me on how to act.

On a personal level, it proved to me what I always knew: my parents are amazing. I brag about my parents like most people brag about their children. They’re wonderful people. They handled the situation with their usual resilience and good humour. My dad didn’t let it stop him doing what he wanted to do. He loves photography and, despite struggling with his eyesight, he continued to take photos. In fact, he delved deeper into the world of photography and produced some great results. My mum stood by him throughout it all, even when she was having health issues of her own. She tried her best to keep a smile on her face, despite how difficult it was.

Overall, I think the experience has made me more compassionate. It has taught me that I’m very fortunate to be able to go about my business without having to carefully consider every detail of it. I realise that not everyone is that lucky. I have found it frustrating at times, so I can only imagine how hard it could have been for my dad and others in his situation, but I do believe it has made me a better person. As ashamed as I am to admit how oblivious I was, I’m glad that I’ve had this experience. Naturally, I would prefer that my dad hadn’t had to go through it, but I’m grateful for what it has taught me and the person it has helped me to become.

What I realised when my dad became disabled

Have you had a similar experience? What did, or do you, find the most challenging? How has it changed you? Feel free to share your thoughts in a comment. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to discuss this more directly, all of my contact details are here.

How My Dad's Disability Forced Me To Face Some Uncomfortable Truths About Myself
There are so many things you don't think about when you don't have a disability

6 Comments

  1. 25th April 2018 / 4:55 pm

    As a disabled person, I found this blog post super interesting to read. My problems are lifelong and neurodevelopmental instead of physical, so it’s not completely the same as what your dad was going through, but I’d never really stopped to consider the lives of non-disabled people and everything they can achieve without boundaries, as selfish as that sounds. It sounds like you’re extremely supportive of your dad, though, and I’m so happy to hear that he’s finally on the mend! I wish you and your dad the best of luck in future.

    Rebekah | https://rebekahgillian.co.uk

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      25th April 2018 / 5:07 pm

      Thank you for such a wonderful response. It means a lot to me that you would take the time to read this and to leave such a kind comment.

      Having read some of your blog posts, I think you are handling your challenges very graciously and in a way that is particularly mature for someone your age. I’m sure you have a bright future ahead of you.

  2. 27th April 2018 / 2:04 pm

    You observations are spot on. Most of us are oblivious to the challenges of disability until it hits home. “The world becomes a lot smaller” is so true with accessibility. That was my experience for the first years after my daughter’s spinal cord injury. Thankfully, after that her friend showed her that the world is wide open—with the help of a strong friend to carry her up and down steps. Thanks for sharing, Ruth, and all the best to you and your family!

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      27th April 2018 / 2:08 pm

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment. I’m so glad to hear that your daughter isn’t being held back by the challenges she faces. All the best to both of you, too!

  3. 17th June 2018 / 4:13 pm

    This is a fantastic read & an honest view of how your dads disbality has impacted you. Your parents sound like amazing people & it really shines through with you. It changes your perspective on the world when you view it from a disabled point of view & how restrictive things can be for them. Accessibility is everything & more work needs to be done in communities.

    • ruthinrevolt
      Author
      17th June 2018 / 6:22 pm

      Thanks Leann! I definitely agree with you about more needing to be done to cater for those with disabilities because there seems to be very little thought put into it sometimes x

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