welcome back ladies and gents to another #DisabilityQ&A 🙂
I am happy to introduce you to a lovely gentleman called George, we met on Twitter and he is a beacon of positivity and warmth. not only is he a great advocate for people with disability, he is always there to lend a helping hand, or in the case of the Internet, lend a listening ear to anyone who may need it. I am lucky to call him my friend 🙂
Over to you George!
. Name: My name is George Rector. I am married to my best friend whose name is Sandy.
Where I live: I live near Orlando, Florida, USA (near Disney).
Occupation: I am a retired eye doctor. I had to quit practice due to my Multiple Sclerosis. I have been an MS Peer Counselor for about 13 years.
Hobbies: My passion is photography. My ability declined as my disability increased. I also like to read or listen to audiobooks.
Reason for disability: I have the rarest form of Multiple Sclerosis. I also have Spinal Cord Damage and am a T10 paraplegic.
Refer to myself as person with a disability? Yes, I refer to myself as a person with a disability. I don’t like the term handicapped, as I feel it is degrading. I despise the terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined to a wheelchair.”
Do I tell others? My paraplegia is quite obvious from my wheelchair, the elephant in the room. I am open about my MS. As for specifics, I share those with people as I get to know them.
Mobility aids: I use a wheelchair full time and have for many years. My chair is a small, titanium chair that is light weight and fits well most places. I don’t object to some stares, as I think that is normal. I do make eye contact and willingly answer questions from children.
If I could extinguish my disability, would I? For me, personally, no I wouldn’t. While I am quite independent, the disability shifts tasks to my wife. I would like to make her life easier. Otherwise, definitely No. I like who I am and the people I have met.
How does it affect my mobility? I have 2 things going on. The obvious thing is my wheelchair. As a T10 paraplegic I have paralysis below the waist. The MS adds to the mobility issue with fatigue. I think fatigue is the most disabling part.
How has disability affected me? First of all, disability ended my professional career. It affects the house we can live in and where we live. My last winter in the North I got snowed in for weeks, and my health suffered.
Has disability made me who I am today? Yes, indeed, it has. Aside from my ever present wheelchair, It changed my profession to volunteer. I have met many wonderful people. The 2 words I hear most often in Peer Counseling are “alone” and “overwhelmed.” At times I feel like that, as well. I try every day to brighten someone’s day, to make them feel less alone and not so overwhelmed.
Question I get asked about my disability? I get stares because of my wheelchair, especially from children. I get asked what happened? Children get an answer; adults who are strangers get a farfetched story. I like to explain to children and will demonstrate my titanium chair to anyone who asks.
Positives of a disability: 2 things come to mind. First, it makes me think, figure things out, think about who I am and how I can help someone. Second, I have met some wonderful people. I met wonderful people before disability, but this is different. There is a bond, a sense of helping one another get through a rough time.
Negatives of disability: Again, 2 things. It places an added share of the load on my wife, and it dictates the type of house we can live in. The huge negative is the added expense. The costs of a disability are staggering
A difficulty for me being disabled: The worse thing is being down here when the rest of the people are up there. In a group, people stand and look at each other when talking. The sound literally goes over my head. It is isolating
What frustrates me? I deal with my wheelchair and the things I need because of my MS. The frustrations come with attitudes, terms “wheelchair bound” and “confined.” There is no duct tape binding me, and my mommy isn’t making me sit in a corner.
Tips for others: For dealing with paraplegic, I’d like to pass along the 2 basic rules. Call ahead to make sure where you’re going is accessible, and use the bathroom before you leave home. For dealing with MS, remember that there are many things. Vision is one of them. Don’t settle. Learn about large print, magnifiers, reading glasses with prism, proper tint for your needs.
Assistive technology? I have reading glasses that are more than just magnifiers. Tinted lenses to manage light. E-readers to control the print size, and audiobooks. Of course, there is my wheelchair. A custom, ultra light weight wheelchair is a prosthetic body.
Advice to someone newly diagnosed: Much of my work with MS has been talking with those who are newly diagnosed. Ask questions; read; don’t trust feel good stories (crip porn) on TV but get information from sources like National MS Society, United Spinal, NFB, etc.
Advice to the person with no disability: Remember that the person you encounter who has a disability is a person. Not a wheelchair; not a white cane; a real person who loves and can be loved; a person with interests and passions; a father or mother; a doctor; or even a blogger!
Special services I use: I volunteer with the National MS Society, and I get more back from volunteering than what I put in. The MS Foundation is good, also. I’d also recommend the Low Vision Section of the American Optometric Association.
Where can you find me? If after all this anyone wants to find me, I’d be honored.
My blog is Popping Wheelies. It is everything you’ve ever wondered about someone who lives life on wheels, and more. www.poppingwheelies.wordpress.com
Facebook: George Rector
LinkedIN: George Rector
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Anything that I’d like to add: I’d like to thank Sassy for all she does for so many people. And I’d like to get in another plug for my blog, Popping Wheelies!
❤❤ Thank you so much George, I love that you see your disability as a positive, and the way it has impacted your life and meeting new people. I think like you, for the most part, we would love to change our disability for our loved ones, for all the times they have had to go the extra mile, or change plans because something wasn’t accessible when it should have been. Also, I really love your blog and I think everyone should check it out!❤️❤️ ❤❤