My name is Marly, but I also go by Mar, or MarMar, so just pick your favorite!
I am a 28 year-old, Lebanese/American woman just trying to navigate through life the best way I know how. In 2007, while returning from a road trip my friend fell asleep on the wheel. We ended up hitting the rails on both sides of the road before we eventually hit a soft spot we then started flipping several times before hitting a tree and coming to a stop. Since I was asleep, I have very little memories from that night. I remember flirting with the paramedic pulling me out the car. I remember arguing with the ER nurse for cutting my new bra. I remember crying for my friend Julie and my dog Danika. Once alert, the doctors informed me that I had sustained a T10 and T12 spinal cord injury and that I would NEVER walk again.
I’d like to be blunt with you for a moment. A spinal cord injury is a devastating one. It is a COMPLETE lifestyle change regardless of the injury level. As you can imagine there are many thoughts that go through a person’s mind upon hearing that. There’s denial, anger and emotional pain all of which compounded by the immense physical pain. I have yet to meet a newly disabled individual that did not initially believe their life was over and I was no different. Coming from a different culture, it was particularly hard to hear it coming from loved ones as well.
If there is one thing I would like to project to my readers about myself, it is that I find laughter and amusement in just about any situation and eventually I started to find it within my disability. Physical therapy was a combination of hard work and lots of laughter, but I am now at a point where I can walk short distances with a walker and ankle braces.
It’s now been 8 years since my injury and my mobility issues, for the most part, no longer faze me. Thanks to Creative Living, I have lived independently for three years now and I LOVE it. I also attended The Ohio State University and graduated with honors with a B.A. in Modern Standard Arabic and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. I hope to one day utilize my degree to bring awareness and consciousness to the Lebanese culture regarding the disabled life. I am fueled by the knowledge that I can and will accomplish my goals while wheelchair bound and with the biggest smile to boot.
What is your definition of disability?
Merriam-Webster defines disability as, “a condition (such as an illness or an injury) that damages or limits a person’s physical or mental abilities”. However, to those of us that are disabled, the definition is not only individual but also very personal. For many of us, being disabled is a state of mind as much as it is a mental or bodily condition. The abled and the disabled alike have limits but it is what we choose to do with those limits that define us.
Through this Creative Living blog page, we will talk openly about what it means to be disabled. Not only to bring awareness and consciousness but to also challenge your definition of “normal”. In the coming weeks, I will be introducing you to some of the strongest individuals. Creative Living residents transcend what is perceived to be their physical limitations by simply being who they are and knowing that, that is enough.