Living Well with a Disability: A Participant’s Perspective
By Frank Fuchs, Living Well Graduate
Photo by Loren Worthington
My classmates had very diverse backgrounds and physical challenges. There were six students and two in leadership. I was the oldest and most physically-able, and yet every one of us felt comfortable in our own skin. We had a range of people taking the course, from one student who was 33 years old starting medical school to people who had difficulty simply speaking. Yes, most of the participants used chairs or walkers, but that represented their outside bodies; inside their bodies, they were smart and eager to learn better ways of dealing with their disabilities.
The process of setting goals was very helpful. Most people wake up and just go through their day, not knowing how much more they can get out of their lives just by following the steps outlined in the course. I needed the chapter on Beating the Blues, as well as all of the chapters, but this chapter was extremely helpful for me.
I could give a short review of all the information from Living Well, but that would take the fun out of learning from your own perspective. Each one of us related to each chapter in a different way, and yet, in the same way. We had open discussions in each class, which created a healthy, strong communication with each other that allowed our opinions to be voiced. We had our opinions questioned by the leaders as well as classmates, enriching our understanding of ourselves. I was very fortunate to have a strong mentor who attended this class as well as a leader that actually led.
I put into practice each golden nugget that I learned, and my life became more manageable and enjoyable. Example: I thought that because I can still walk that my job was to help others who were not as able, whether they wanted assistance or not. WRONG! I learned to ask for their permission, to ask them first. Sounds simple, and yet it is not. My life at home became less stressful. My wife has a disease that is progressive and very disabling, and I had been over-protective and did things for her without being asked or giving her a chance to determine what she could do for herself. Now, I ask permission from her and guess what? She does most of the things I did for her by herself! Her confidence level has soared and the stress level in our home is considerably diminished. Just that alone was more enlightening and calming.
Each day, I continue to incorporate more and more that the Living Well with a Disability classes have taught me about life and about myself. Since taking this course, I have a much more positive outlook and can’t wait to add more and more of what I learned to my daily life. As the slogan says, JUST DO IT!
What is Living Well with a Disability?
Living Well with a Disability is a 10-week health promotion and wellness course that teaches self-advocacy, problem solving and goal setting through weekly two-hour classes. Living Well is designed for adults with physical disabilities and chronic medical conditions, and supports the participants’ achievement of personal goals. The Ability360 course is supported through a grant provided by Desert Schools Federal Credit Union.