Victoria H. sees the world with more mindful eyes since she had to get to know herself and her body anew. However, she has retained her enthusiasm for sports and has found many new ways to practice it. What kind of role REHACARE plays in this, why straws are an important assistive device in her everyday life and what how she rolls otherwise, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Victoria H. Age: 36 City: Frankfurt Occupation: I have an incomplete paraplegia and had to undergo an extensive and life-saving revision operation to stiffen my spine, including my head. This has turned my everyday life upside down – in the truest sense of the word. Drinking, eating, seeing and all movement patterns had to be relearned and compensatory movements and mechanisms had to be found and practiced.
Disability means for me to see the world with different (mindful) eyes and to build up and manage a completely new everyday life. But living with a disability also means for me to get to know myself and my body anew and to shape my enthusiasm for sports and movement with a new starting situation.
Victoria H: For me, a good day is when I have done something good for at least one person and have been able to pursue my passion for sports with tolerable pain.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Victoria H: Indispensable aids are, on the one hand, my two adapted active wheelchairs, the handbike and – no joke – straws. The wheelchairs and the handbike mean self-determination and freedom for me, and straws enable me to drink despite head stiffness.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Victoria H: More attentiveness, tolerance and openness as well as less rejectionism and discrimination, which would also contribute to a greater presence of severely disabled people in our society. In addition, that we disabled people are brought on board as experts, are paid accordingly and thus our concerns are heard more.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Victoria H: Basically, we need a comprehensive expansion of accessibility (as is already the case in many southern countries!), because this would already make some aids superfluous. In addition, plastic straws, which have unfortunately been abolished despite petition efforts, are essential for people with a high paralysis level or head stiffness. The alternatives are unfortunately a very unsuitable substitute for many reasons.
Victoria H. has build a new daily routine with sports and exercise. At REHACARE you can mostly find her in the Sports Center, trying out new type of sports.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Victoria H.: Flying with a wheelchair and other medical aids was one of my biggest challenges. Due to Corona and other concerns, I did not fly for the first 3 years since being in a wheelchair. I was helped by encouraging, kind people from my environment, my aspiration for autonomy and participation, and sound preparation. That is also one of the reasons why I report here in such detail and with such determination and why I invest a lot of work. I know exactly how it feels and what challenges one encounters or can encounter that have to be overcome. Now being able to travel, in addition to being able to participate in social life, means a great deal of regained freedom. And I would like to pass that on.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future? Victoria H.: More accessible digitization. In addition, there should always be a sound repertoire of spare parts for wheelchairs to ensure supply. A defective wheelchair can, under certain circumstances, lead to temporary bedriddenness with complete dependence.
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Victoria H.: God and then ask him why there has to be so much injustice, hunger, violence and wars in the world...
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Victoria H.: Definitely: the Sports Center! :) With the great opportunity to try out so many different sports, to get into conversation or gather information, and to meet many like-minded people. It's a phenomenal experience every time.
What I wanted to say ...
Victoria H.: Thank you for the REHACARE!
And also a heartfelt wish of mine: If we would pause from time to time in everyday life and look more often to the left and to the right and, thus, treat our fellow human beings more mindfully, we would contribute a great deal to a "better and more peaceful world".
As the saying goes: "If you do something good for others, you do the best for yourself" and the circle would close.