Disability Six Years On!
It’s 6 years since my life changed forever and not for the better…..
This month marks the anniversary of a fateful back operation. When I woke up, they told me I’d moved and my right foot lost it’s use – forever.
I ended up in a wheelchair for a year. My brain had a lot to cope with but I worked continually from Day One.
I didn’t really know what had hit me and was frightened of what lay ahead. No driving, no walking, no independence. But keeping my brain occupied, got me through it.
At the outset, the lovely Mr. G took early retirement so I could continue to do a job and I challenged myself to do things I’d never done before. For example, we went to India for 9 months – in the wheelchair. Pete pushing….me working.
It’s funny how going through airports, staff spoke to Pete rather than me. They don’t mean harm – but I learned to wave at them and say, ‘Hi, I am here, you can speak to me too!’
After a year, I ditched the wheelchair and although still in continual pain, I hobble around now and feel better about myself.
Before the operation, Pete and I loved walking together – especially in my native Derbyshire. We’d walk miles over a weekend. That is now history for me – but not for Pete, I hasten to add. I now arrange a long distance walk for charity for Pete and our walking team. I meet them at the end of the day at the pub!
When we’re in Cornwall, I do walk to the Cove – it takes ages and hurts like hell, but I love the achievement and the view of course. (That’s me over looking Trevanunace on one such occasion). I’ve even learned to do an aerobics video in an effort to try to keep fit.
Six things I learned
The whole experience taught me a few things:
1. Not everyone in this world can do the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday commute. When I thought about it, I realised just how stupid it is anyway. We all get on the same roads, train and buses – at the same time – go to the same town or city – get to the office and then email the person next to us. Meanwhile our customers are generally at work at the same time as we are. Bizarre Behaviour!
2 There are millions of people like me who have a disability (some much more severe than mine) and want to be part of the workforce. Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean we can’t do a great job for you.
3. My family are amazing and my Friends are wonderful. My Husband is the best ever.
4 Mobility friendly hotel rooms bring back awful memories. When I hobble up to reception they think they are doing me a good turn – but please. please ask me. Those rooms really depress me, a reminder of the back operation – but I love a nice walk in rain forest shower, Thank You!
5. The biggest shock was the lack of support from UK Government. The PIP assessment process and Blue Badge system is appalling – even discriminatory to those who try to continue to carry on working. If I wanted their help, it appears I had to stay in that wheelchair. Ridiculous.
6. British Business, however, is much more giving & supportive. I’ve had so much support from ex colleagues, new contacts, the business community, chambers of commerce and many other thoughtful Leaders. It’s touching.
It also made me realise how necessary smart working options are to people with disabilities. Everyone in this country, regardless of their circumstances, need to have the opportunity to have a purpose and be a part of the UK Workforce if they choose to.
That’s why Olly and I set up the Revolution and we encourage Thoughtful Business Leaders to look at all sectors of the community, when recruiting. Whether that is people with disabilities, carers, those who live in remote areas or parents who can’t do a long commute.
We run Masterclasses where we encourage Leaders to turn traditional thinking up side down – no more 9 to 5 nonsense, Dolly Parton.
Why don’t you talk to us about how you can offer smart options that attract talented people who can’t do the normal Monday to Friday commute?