More abled than disabled

So I have had a few people ask me to blog post about my disability. What is it? Was I born with it? How does it affect me? What can I do and what can’t I do? Does it bother me? I really do not mind getting ask these questions. I love educating people on it. I would rather them ask than not ask. It’s common that people make false assumptions, so I am very open and honest to try and avoid that.

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with Cancer. I went through chemotherapy and treatment. I was in the hospital for 11 months on and off. A few months after I was released, my parents noticed that I was walking funny. A few days later, I started to get weaker. My parents brought me to the hospital again. From there on, I became weaker to the point where I couldn’t do anything or remember anything. My brother was 1 year old at the time and he could do more than me.

The doctors believed I had a virus called Viral Encephalitis. This was in no relation to the Cancer, but it is believed that because my system was still weak from chemo that I was not able to fight it off like a regular person could. After about 3 months, I started to get a little bit of my strength back so the doctors sent me home. But at this time, my brother could still do more than me. The doctor’s also told my parents not to expect much more improvement. Boy, were they wrong.

I had to learn how to do everything again. I was like a newborn again, except 3 years old. I went through years of physical and speech therapy to regain my strength. The part of my brain that controls right side of my body was damaged so I had to learn how to do stuff with my left arm and hand. I continued to have small improvements as the years went on. When I was in 6th grade, I stopped therapy because there wasn’t showing anymore improvement from it.

During my first year of high school, I had a major spinal surgery. I was told it was life or death because my spine was so bent that it almost went into my lungs. The recovery was awful. I stayed home from school and laid in bed for 3 months because it was too hard and hurt too much to sit up. I am never having another surgery like that again.

At the end of grade 10, I finally got a motorized wheelchair. It changed my life and made me a totally different person. I started to do more things by myself, until eventually I started doing everything that I could possibly do by myself. By doing more for myself I became stronger physically. My speech even improved by me singing all the time.

When I started to do more by myself, I started to think more for myself. I stepped into the real world and started to have the same life successes and struggles as everyone else. I became a person with emotions, beliefs, knowledge, and awareness. Which is quite unfortunate sometimes (lol) and sometimes I wish I can go back to being clueless, but I love the life I have now (obviously when I’m not in a depressive episode).

The doctors were wrong when they told my parents that I wouldn’t improve much. I do a lot of things for myself now. When I got my motorized wheelchair, I started to not rely on people anymore and learned how to do many things independently. I go on the city bus and to the mall by myself. When the weather is nice, I’m never home. I am a full time college student. I am at school every day, with no personal assistants.

I can pretty much do everything anyone else can. I obviously can’t walk. But I am able to get out of my chair, transfer from chair to chair or chair to floor, I am able to stand if I lean or hold on to something. Since the right side of my body got damaged, I can’t use my right hand much. I can use it for basic things though, like clapping, holding something, pressing the shift key etc. I have a bit of a speech impairment. It usually depends on the individual person if they can understand me well. Some people can easily understand me when they first meet me, but some can’t. Everyone does eventually though.

I would like to say this disability doesn’t affect me at all, but it does in a few ways. Some days gets tiring for me. If I have a lot of things to get done, it is a workout for me. It takes me longer to do simple things than the average person. So I find myself running around a lot from place to place trying to do everything. It gets tiring but thankfully, I’m someone who is full of energy and motivation that I don’t feel the effect of the tiredness until after I’m done everything.

I miss out a lot of social things. I never get invited to house parties or nights out because accessibility and transportation always seem to be an issue. I always have to plan ahead and it always seems to be a hassle. My “love life” is non-existent. I have had no experience with guys. Never been kissed, never been asked out, never been flirted on. Nothing. I’m not saying the guys I’ve met are shallow and aren’t doing anything purposely because I’m in a wheelchair. I’m just saying that sometimes, unintentionally, this gets in the way of that. And just to clear the air, yes, people with disabilities can have sex.

Despite all that, I am very fortunate. I really try to live life as if I wasn’t in a wheelchair. I’m more abled than disabled. I don’t let anything stop me. No task is too hard for me. I am a full time student, I’ve taken the bus to Toronto for concerts, I go to appointments by myself, malls by myself, stayed overnight at hotels with friends, been to the casino and to the like only accessible dance club in the Niagara Region, I blog, I help people, I’m an mental health advocate. This wheelchair isn’t stopping me from doing anything. I also struggle through life just like most people. Like I’ve said in the past, people probably think my disability is the worst thing to deal with, but it’s not. I go through stupid bullshit life drama like everyone else.

Jessica Victoria
<p>Jessica Victoria, 24, is a writer and advocate for mental health, disability and LGBTQ+. She uses her personal experiences and knowledge to help and educate others.</p>

One thought on “More abled than disabled

  1. Wow, that is crazy. To go from having cancer, to not being able to walk. That is insane, and it is amazing that you have pulled through. Your story sure is worth telling and listening to! Stay Strong!

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