Welcome to my first published newsletter! Just as Spring celebrates new beginnings, I am excited to launch out on a new journey of sharing with you insights and observations based on my experience working in the field of disability. The onset or progression of a disability or chronic illness can be extremely frightening and overwhelming for both the individual and his or her family. Their primary concerns center around changes in health, career and finances. The question that is most frequently asked is:
W here do we go from here? “ My hope is that you or someone you know facing disability will benefit from the insights, stories, and resources covered in future newsletters.  


I think most people will agree that there are many events in life that catch us by surprise.  It may be the loss of a job, a financial setback, a tragic accident or the diagnosis of a chronic illness. The common theme in all these occurrences is this: we are not prepared for the unexpected. The onset of a disability is no different. Physical and cognitive impairments are not partial to age, gender or economic background. There are no rules to navigate the journey. There is no method to predict its course. There is no magic wand to make it disappear. In fact, there are five main factors that contribute to the prevailing stress resulting from a life of disability. They are:  
  1. Demands and challenges that were not present before.
  2. Exhaustion and fatigue resulting from daily care giving.
  3. One or more family members feeling excluded or neglected.
  4. Lifestyle is altered and future plans may be dashed.
  5. Individual with the disability is no longer the same person.
So then, how do people cope?  

Individuals and their families who are confronted with disability cope with its effects in vastly different ways. We are all aware of the negative means by which those suffering often medicate their pain and escape reality. It does not have to be this way. One middle-aged man I worked with for several years coped with the effects of a brain injury by abusing alcohol. Because he could not contend with life’s pressures and responsibilities, he was evicted and ended up in a nursing home for the remainder of his life. There is hope! A famous quote by Hal Lindsay states, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air...but only for one second without hope.”  

Where do we find this “hope?”
Family and friends can alleviate some of the stress by helping with care giving, shopping or other chores. Doctors may suggest a specific treatment or therapy to manage the disability. The use of assisted technology can certainly facilitate other tasks. However, they alone cannot sustain someone during the course of disability. I have observed that many people with special needs and their families rely on their faith . Despite their daily suffering and struggles, they demonstrate an unwavering faith that provides the glue to cement their families together. There is no doubt that the journey is difficult and challenging. Human relationships and various forms of technology are tremendously important. But do those supports ALONE promote the attribute of hope?

Next month's newsletter that will focus on the attitudes and strategies that are necessary for persevering through disability while remaining hopeful.