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Melissa Blake

Melissa Blake

Living (And Thriving) With A Physical Disability

The power of living with a disability in an able-bodied world

I am a lot of things to many people. Daughter. Sister. Best friend. Writer. Columnist. Blogger.

Oh, yeah, and I have a physical disability, too.

Yes, I know that might sound a bit strange. To list one's disability as a footnote of sorts, but that's how I've come to view my disability. I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a rare genetic bone and muscular disorder. I've lived with its ups and downs all my life. It's become a part of me.

But, it's not all of me. I'm not a person with a disability. I'm a person living with a disability (through my writing, through seeking out more independence for myself, just to name a few). And there's a world of difference between the two.

We all have goals, dreams, hopes and aspirations in life. Some big. Some not-so-big. Some that involve changing your life. Some that involve making a difference in someone else's life. There's no reason that you can't overcome those bumpy obstacles along your path and come out smiling on the other side. I did.

I watched a recent episode of the FOX hit House, in which Dr. Eric Foreman, the tough-talking neurologist, remarked on the status of a patient they were treating, "Being deaf isn't an identity. It's a disability."

I'm not so sure I believe that. It seems too black-and-white for me. Because when it comes down to it, and whether everyone would agree or not, being disabled (and especially in my case, being disabled since birth) has indeed helped shape a significant portion of my identity. It's not all I am, of course, but it's a nice slice of the pie. But, as you'll see in the coming months through this blog, I haven't let it stop me from living my life the way I want. Sometimes I feel like I've done a lifetime of living in my 28 years, but now, with the majority of my medical endeavors behind me, I'm at a point where I feel like I can finally get to the good stuff: actual living. So, in a way, maybe I'm just beginning my journey. I hope you'll come along for the ride.

But back to Foreman's one-way-or-the-other statement: Why does it have to be one or the other - either a disability or an identity? Can't it be both, whether you're deaf or have blue eyes or are half Swedish? Did I mention I'm half Swedish too? See, there's another piece of my ever-expanding pie.

What individual slices make up your own pie? I'd love to hear all about you, and I look forward to sharing the pieces of my pie with you. And of course, there will be seconds.