How I can't take a vacation, from having a disability

Published on 16 June 2024 at 21:17

Sunrise at Coco Beach Michelle Steiner Image Description A bright yellow sun shines over the water on the beach

During the summer months many people enjoy having time off and traveling. People will pack their bags and go on an adventure!  I love having a break from my job at a school and exploring new places. One thing that I can not take a break from is having a learning disability. I don't get a week, a month or a year off, from it. Disabilities also come with baggage, that I cannot simply check or leave somewhere.  Having one is a full time twenty four hour job. It is a shadow that follows me around the house, the community, and at work.

At home it can be hard for me to navigate my house with limited hand dexterity. I find it difficult to lock and unlock the front door. My hands lacked the control and I also confuse my right from my left. I recently had a key helper from Tech Owl. The key helper has enabled me to unlock and lock my door with ease!

I also struggle in the kitchen at home with hand dexterity. It can be a challenge for me to open jars and bottles with tight lids. My hands lack the strength and dexterity to open them. I have an opener for jars and lids that are sealed tightly. Using a manual can opener is also difficult with my hand dexterity and visual perception. Trying to operate a manual one is like flying a spaceship, and I am unsuccessful. When I use an electric opener, I can open cans with ease.  

 In the community I struggle with having a disability.  I am not able to drive to where I need to go and rely on others to take me. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who is able to take me places and have others who can help as well. I also live in a community where I can walk to the gym, store or other places I need to go. There are also bus services, but they do not go into rural areas. I have used para transit a bus service for people with disabilities, but found it be more of a hassle than it was worth.

Walking is one of my favorite ways to get to places, I need to go. On my walks I am able to stop and smell the flowers. I can also notice details that others may miss while driving. I take many pictures of flowers, butterflies and other parts of nature. If i was driving, many of this beauty would pass me by.

I also struggle in the community with totaling how much I am spending in the store. It is always a surprise when I get to the register and see what my total is. When I use a debit or credit card I don't know how much I am spending, because it is a more abstract concept. Using paper money helps to give me a visual on what I am spending. I can see the dollars and cents disappearing and I don't overspend as much. 

Leaving  a tip at a restaurant is also difficult. I need to use my phone to calculate what tip I need to give for service. I can remember a waitress that wanted me to calculate the problem on the receipt. I'm not sure if I totaled it correctly or if she had to fix it.  Many places have a menu, option when you insert your card, that give you the various tip options and the amounts with each. 

The workplace can also create difficulties with having a disability. The staff and students know or will soon find out that I cannot help with math. Using an answer key is of limited use. I can tell what the answer is, but I'm unable to comprehend or explain the process to others. I also struggle to understand new information and to process directions. I have to ask for clarifications if I am unsure of what someone wants and may need it to be repeated. It is also helpful to have a physical or digital copy of information that I can refer back to. Often times I miss information and having it in print helps me to refer back to information.

My disability is not something that I can take a leave from and is constant presence in my life. I cannot put the bag down when I am at home, in the community or at work Having a disability is not my choice, but how I handle it is. Unpacking the bag and finding ways to work with the contents in the bag help it to be lighter. I can manage the contents by using accommodations with math, hand dexterity and not driving. I can also choose to look for the joy in a situation. Instead of being upset that I don't have a ride, I can snap a picture on my walks. I can also choose not to be frustrated that I cannot  do math and focus on encouraging someone. Life is too short to let a disability stop me from living my life, to the fullest. 


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