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I felt like damaged goods. Did others see me this way too?

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

When I met my husband, almost one year post spinal cord injury, I was relieved, excited and impressed that someone could see past my disability.

I felt lucky to meet Dan. I also lost count of the amount of people who were clearly surprised that I was in a relationship given that I was now paralysed from the chest down.

I suppose I felt like damaged goods, perhaps I was so damaged that I should be chucked in the bin. Did others see me like that? I started to wonder when people often said 'Wow. How did you get him?!" This was 16 years ago now- perhaps perceptions are changing? Perhaps people can see that disability doesn't mean inability- in the workplace or in a relationship.

Although I was sad to read an article recently about a disabled woman wanting to sign up on a dating website but they advised she wasn't suitable and would be better on a disabled dating site. I couldn't believe it. So they wanted us all on our own website and not included on their site.

I received a message last week telling me how awesome Dan is for staying with his 'disabled wife' and 'hats off to him'- there have been many messages over the years similar the this. So I question if views have not changed as much as I hoped?

There was another concern. How would I ever get a job now I was a wheelchair user? I was a Chiropractor before my accident but this was no longer an option. Would anyone consider employing me? Through the help of a a mutual friend, I managed to get a job in an office- it was never going to be what I wanted to do forever, but it was a stepping stone and a chance to build confidence for which I am grateful for.

I recently spoke at an event and was surprised to see two wheelchair users- after a decade of speaking at hundreds of events, I rarely see another person in a wheelchair, never mind two. We need other employers to see past disability and work places to be accessible so it is not unusual.

Seeing past disability means recognising individuals for their unique abilities, talents, and contributions rather than focusing on limitations. It involves creating inclusive environments that empower people with disabilities. We should strive towards a society where everyone is valued based on their skills and potential, promoting equality, and challenging stereotypes and biases.

Three facts to help you see past disability:

  1. Diverse Abilities: People with disabilities often possess unique skills, talents, and perspectives. By focusing on what we can do, we unlock a wealth of untapped potential that enriches workplaces and communities.

  2. Resilience and Adaptability: Many individuals with disabilities demonstrate remarkable resilience and adaptability, facing challenges with determination and creativity. The experiences can contribute valuable insights to various aspects of life.

  3. Equal Human Worth: Disability does not diminish a person's inherent value. Recognising and appreciating each individual's worth beyond their physical or cognitive differences fosters a more compassionate and inclusive society, promoting a shared understanding of our common humanity.

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Claire, Ive met you in London , Manchester and Oulton Park , you genuinely are my hero and inspiration ! x


Jim Mc Donald
Jim Mc Donald

I remember the day of your accident and reading about I was really upset for you so talented on a horse. I have followed you recovery and all you have done , marathons, the in the island, flying etc. I have come to no more seeing your disability just what in gods name will she think if next. You husband Dan has never crossed my mind 🤣 You are an inspiration to all of us


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