Independent, or not?

This is a rewrite of a post from August and something I wanted to expand on. I want to ensure that my life in Paris does not come across as just a daily gambol through the City of Love where everything is sunshine and eclairs. My blog is not meant to be anything but an honest account of living with my disability in Paris.  My disability needs didn't disappear when I left Australia and neither did some of the associated problems or my feelings about them.

Wherever you go, there you are.

I don't completely agree with that saying. However there are obvious realities to my disability that exist wherever I am living in the world. For example, I don't magically morph from snuggled into my bed at night to the snappily dressed, hair flicking goddess I am (in my head at least) each morning gliding swan-like around Paris in my motorised wheelchair. There is a process involved in between, a routine that requires assistance from people I hire. So what does having this help and these employees mean to me?

Difficult to believe or not, the biggest loss I had when I became quadriplegic was not the loss of walking. It was the loss of independence. In addition, when I moved to Paris, I knew that the biggest challenge there would be the same that I had in Australia - recruiting and training good employees. However, good employees negate the loss of independence.

Even if it sucks.

I employee assistants to help me with personal care such as dressing, bathing and transfers. I've had to find a way to accept that part of my life. You have to find a way to accept it - even if it still sucks. I've worked out ways to lessen the impact. I have routines and only employ reliable people who can work for a significant length of time. The more a person can do their job without prompting and the less often I have to have a new person in my private life, the better.

On the whole I manage to choose the right people for the job, having many successful working relationships with employees for close to thirty years. They add to my life and they learn from me as I learn from them. These people merge into my life and even after they've moved on, they stay part of it, because they've reduced the impact of privacy loss and added to my independence.

Unfortunately however, there will still be those other employees - those who turn out to be not the person I interviewed, or there are those who decide the hours actually don't suit them - months after starting. There are those that thought I'd be a sweet little quad incredibly grateful to be helped and they could tell me what to do. Some decide they want to leave before their contract ends to seek a greener pasture, or, one will get hit by a car (okay the last one isn't a fair whinge;))

I realise I'm not such a smarty pants  

Wine o'Clock?

Wine o'Clock?

Then I have to hire a new employee and the loss of my ability to do all my own personal care is obvious again. I realise I'm not actually independent. In fact, I'm dependent on people and not such a smarty pants after all. However while it's extremely challenging for me to have new employees in my life, I can't express that to them! Nobody wants to feel unwelcome at work. So what's a girl to do? Drink wine?

Well yes, sometimes a wine or four is needed after training some people ...  In reality though, I have to find a balance. I learn from my mistakes of whom to put my trust in and kill them in my stories and I focus on ensuring my new employee transitions as easily as possible, gliding swan-like (but preferably not flicking their hair) into work to negate my loss of independence and help me reach my goals.


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About Sandra E Brown

I withdrew from my Masters (Neuropsychology) to write a blog instead, and to teach English as a second language. Life is too short to be doing something you want to retire from at 65! I now live in Paris, France.
This entry was posted in Australia, Disability, How to reach a goal, Paris/France, Quadriplegia. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Independent, or not?

  1. Hi, Sandra

    Thanks for your strength and honesty! You have hit upon some important points for all of us!

    • Thanks for your feedback and support Traci! Much appreciated as it’s not easy being so ‘sharing’ with my personal ‘personal’ life. I love comments too as they show me my work is being read by real people – my stats counter is encouraging but he’s a little faceless at times.

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