“Disabled.” “Handicapped.” “Restricted.” “Limitations.” “Infirm.” “Frail.” “Incapacity.” These are all words that many of us have become all to familiar with.
Webster: The definition of disability is this:
a : the condition of being disabled.
b : limitation in the ability to pursue an occupation because of a physical or mental impairment: lack of legal qualification to do something
c: a disqualification, restriction, or disadvantage.
Let’s be real about this. Some of us do have ‘disabilities’. Our abilities are limited, whether it be due to injury or disease. There is no doubt that a stroke limited my ability to pursue my occupation of choice (veterinary medicine). In fact, the seizures it has caused currently prevents me from practicing medicine at all, and indeed severely limits the amount of work I can do in any given day. (like writing blogs, for example!) However, I do the best I can to not let it define who I am, although it can be a struggle at times.
So many of us define ourselves by what we do. Invariably when you meet someone, the conversation will almost always swing towards our profession. You know what I’m talking about. “I’m a ……”, or “I do ……” We define ourselves by this. You may have seen the ad for a pickup truck where the new neighbor arrives at a block party to be asked, “What do you do?” In the ad, the man’s mind flashes through a number of activities – swimming, vacationing, chopping wood, playing chess, taking his wife out to dinner – with only one activity being shown that could be a job. If only that were true for all of us. Point of fact is that very few of us could actually pull that off.
Having a disability can frequently magnify this – at least in our own mind. Because it affects our work, it affects how we see ourselves and what we are. You may have any number or type of disabilities that will affect you – perhaps for a short time, perhaps for the rest of your life. Unless you have extreme mental fortitude, at some time or another you will struggle with the fact that your disability can define you – especially if it affects your job or “what you do.”
You may not be able to change what is going on with your body, but you can change what’s going on in your heart. Remember that the disability or condition is only what we “have”. It is not who we are. I have found that my faith in the God of the universe is what enables me to remember that (almost) every day – in fact, I don’t know what I’d do without it!
All this being said, it is important to continue to be able to do our work. Although we don’t want our job defining us, it is important that you can work! It is good for the soul. God said in Colossians 3:23a, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord.”
Here at DWT we will do anything in our capacity to assist you in continuing your work. We work with any number and type of physical disabilities and can probably recommend either a tool, a change in working procedure, or at least a referral to someone who can help. We are here to provide tools and equipment, but also to enable you to continue your work, or even just encourage you as you manage your disability.
By Pat Gaston