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This may or may not reflect more on the nature of my own disability - don't know how true it is for those born with disabilities...

In any case, for me, in viewing myself and other disabled people, my primry identification of us isn't "disabled." "Disabled" I just see as something that happens to happen to some people. And any human being could have an accident that would leave them disabled.

In my own case, it happens that I had normal health for the first 37 years of my life. I'm now 51 and mostly bedridden from a very rare progressive disease but personally don't feel identified with or defined by my disability. I don't know if I'd feel differently if I'd been born with a serious disability - it could be. In my case, it's like my inner self image of the "real" me is still the one I had for those first 37 years, and however long this thing is on me, it feels like that - something that's more ON me and less ME...

Sorry so long, don't know if these ramblings make any sense! I actually have had little contact with other disabled people. For most of these sixteen years I was still able to work, I worked as long as I could, and then, shortly after finally having to leave work, I became totally housebound. So I went from running into very few diabled people in my elementary school counseling career to being isolated from everyone.

Hello Paul and everyone,

Paul, thank you for your valued comments and thoughts. They were not “ramblings”. I understood more than you might have imagined when you wrote them.

I agree that some could become disabled by an accident, medical condition or other trauma.

When I read your message I noticed we both became what some call disabled at the age of 37. I also was in good health. Then all of a sudden in the middle of the night I awoke in severe pain. My wife brought me to the hospital where shortly after I slipped into a coma in which I did not come out of for 3 months. When I awoke I found I was completely blind. At that time I had never even talked to another blind person. I had no idea of how I would live, or function in life.

When you talked about your “inner self image” it brought up thoughts for me. I am happily still working with a lot of hard work, re-education, dedication and perseverance and help from assistive technology. The funny thing is when I am working or dreaming; I do not even think about not being able to see a thing. I still have vision in most of my dreams after 9 years of complete darkness.

I am very happy you found us here at the Global Dialogue Center. Everyone who reads and posts comments gives encouragement, great advice and interesting viewpoints to help spark ideas and thoughts. I hope that some of your elementary school counseling contacts can come to visit you.

Did anyone else have any thoughts from reading Moses Gonsi’s story in A Voice of Disability from Africa? What about after reading Paul’s and my comments? We all look forward to hearing from you.

I wish you the very best!

Bill Tipton
Contributing Author
Global Dialogue Center

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