I Wish I Had Known…

Aug 06, 2013
Tagged with: I Wish I Had Known...

My aunt works for the Greater Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, whose headquarters are located in the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Center where my dad underwent therapy. Among other great things (like a Peer Visitation program connecting people with new injuries to those who have been living with a disability for a while), they have been collecting “I Wish I Had Known” statements from individuals and families who have been touched by disability. I thought it would be valuable to start our own “I Wish I Had Known” discussion right here on the NCHPAD blog. What do you wish someone had told you about loving someone with or having a disability? What did you learn through your experiences that might help someone else?

I’ll start: I wish I had known that while laughter is the best medicine, some things just aren’t funny anymore. My sister and I used to play silly games with our dad where we would grab his arms and make him do funny gestures like a puppet. While it was innocent father-daughter teasing before his injury, the catastrophic loss of his ability to move his own arms and hands rendered this small act extremely inappropriate. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t realize this before…it sounds so obvious looking back…but I had never been around someone with a physical disability and I suppose I was trying to hold on to the way things were before his injury. Dignity can be so easily lost when it is difficult to care for oneself, therefore it is vitally important to treat people with disabilities with the utmost respect, especially when it comes to their bodies. While everyone, with or without a disability, is deserving of respect (we are all human!), there are certain areas that can be extra sensitive for someone with a physical disability.

That being said, a sense of humor will get you through the darkest of times. Our family laughed at things we never thought we’d laugh about and that most likely no outsider would have found funny. It strengthened us, helped us all cope. Re-learning what qualifies as “funny” is just a tiny part of creating wonderful memories after disability.

What did you learn through your experiences that might help someone else? What are your favorite memories that are unique to you? Life can be full of many humorous moments. Do you have one?



Please share your I Wish I Had Known and check out Boston’s NSCIA website at: http://sciboston.com/index.htm (they will be posting their I Wish I Had Known collection on their new educational website, www.sh-sci.org, which will be up soon!)

Author: Katie Henley

  • bobl07

    I have many memories that are very humorous due to my disability. The one that stands out recently is when I went to look to buy a new car, the salesmen gave me the keys and said “take it for a spin, young man.” I am sure he saw that I have no hands and legs, but I am not sure how he envisioned me test driving the car. The image I have is very funny…. To people who have a disability, expect the unexpected, be patient with people and always maintain a positive attitude.