gigi and her husband on a bench with life on wheels

Gigi in her wheelchair with baby and husband

As a child, we all imagine what life could bring. For me, there was never a wheelchair involved until reality kicked in.

Before the accident, everything was on track. I was a preschool teacher, took classes to become a Special Education Teacher, and owned my own home. On December 1, 2009, a massive car crash led me from independence straight into this wheelchair, which is now my life. Before the accident, I never gave a second thought about what ADA and Disability rights were. I was utterly unaware of Fair Housing laws. I never thought a service animal would become a regular part of my life.

Thankfully, life is starting to get back on track. Throughout my recovery, I’ve received assistance from many local and national resources who specialize in providing support to people with invisible, physical, and mental disabilities. Texas and Oklahoma Vocational Rehabilitation Services, My Employment Options, and AccessAmerica have helped me go back to school, find a job, and modify my home.

Looking back, I now realize that the saying “there’s no recovering in a hospital” is correct. Month-after-month of physical therapy and rehabilitation were the toughest. During that time, the only thing I could think about was getting back to life as I knew it. In the months following my hospital stay, my new reality and discrimination quickly set in. When I tried to return to my former teaching position, I was told no because my wheelchair might harm a student. My heart ached for the job loved for over 6 years.  Even now, with my wheelchair becoming an extension of myself, I still experience discrimination.

How has discrimination affected your life? 

Stay tuned for my next post, where I share my feelings about why discrimination is wrong a the top ways to report violations.

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