Welcome to my new blog focusing on the issues surrounding a disabled person and how it affects the family structure. Having a disabled family member changes the dynamics of the family, forever. No one is ever properly prepared for raising a handicapped child. There are no rules to follow and every family handles the situation differently, yet the array of emotions and issues remains the same. It is a life-long responsibility for all family members.
My younger and only sister, Lisa, was diagnosed as being mentally handicapped when she was three years old. Born with a club foot, she was characterized early on by a nurse at the hospital as being handicapped. This was long before we realized that she had developmental issues. Almost fifty years later, my father still has tears in his eyes when he shares the story of how his daughter was labeled handicapped by this hospital nurse.
Lisa was beautiful in an angelic way. Small and fragile, she had a perfect face, with a cute nose and large deep brown eyes. With the exception of her club foot, she looked perfectly normal. It was a cruel statement to call her handicapped. Yet, this would be a label that she would carry for her entire life. She would always be handicapped.
Her left foot required a few surgeries to straighten it out, which left it one size smaller than the other one. I remember accompanying my mother to the hospital for a check up and a new cast that she wore for the first months of her life. Saddened to see my little sister in pain, not understanding why she had to wear the cast, I felt guilty for being normal.
This was just the beginning of a long road with my sister. It has been filled with drama, pain, and occasional laughter as to the absurdity of our lives, as we as a family attempted to understand and to deal with the care of Lisa. We still do.
There are many issues that are involved when having a disabled family member. Siblings have no voice. Parents feel saddened and guilty. Quite frankly, everyone is tired. And as the years go on, the pain deepens.
My hope is we can share in this blog our experiences with this issue as a way to unite, and raise awareness by offering support and resources for one another. It is lonely being unable to talk about such a life-changing event.
Let’s start talking and helping one another.