Hi, my name’s Tayler. I’m 24, I studied at university, received a first-class honours, run my own business, travel often, have a long term boyfriend, bar hops from time to time and yep – I’m disabled.
Although I was born with a disability, doctors, midwives and my parents alone didn’t notice anything ‘different’ about me until I reached the age of 1, where a huge sticky label was applied to me, FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CAUTION. Brittle Bones or (Osteogenesis Imperfecta) is something that didn’t run in my family genetics. Unfortunately, or fortunately, both my parents made a version of me they never knew would have existed. I had won the disability lottery, even though I’d never even entered it.
Why I fail so much at being disabled is that for most of my life I was wheelchair bound, until the ripe old age of 18 where I mustered up the determination to walk. It had taken over 190+ breaks and 27 operations to get there but here we are! Although I am very proud of how far I have come with my walking, I am no Usain Bolt and therefore sometimes use my wheelchair. Don’t get me wrong, it’s used more like a shopping trolley but I have grown to love it. It’s an extension of my body and it’s necessary for me to have it. Because on the outside, my shell doesn’t look ‘disabled’ and because of this, I get a lot of stares and rude comments. There is a preconception of what a disabled person should look like, talk like and act like but sometimes I’m none of the above. Walking around London with my chair often succumb to comments such as “ Can I have a ride?”, “Are you missing someone?”. If I had a pound for every time this happened, I’d be living in my own villa in Bora Bora by now…
I also believe that it’s how I’ve been raised and have been very lucky to have a supporting mother and family who have never treated me any different. I grew up not really seeing myself as being disabled. A saying that has stuck with me is “You can do whatever you want to do, it might just take you a little longer to get there” and it’s so true. I never let anything get in my way – and no, it’s not inspirational, it’s normal to set your goals and achieve them.
Last year, my previous wheelchair has its MOT and safe to say – it failed. Wheels were falling apart, breaks worn in just overall looked like a piece of scrap metal. I visited the team at Lifestyle and Mobility in Southend and after a long chat about what I do, they were quick to suggest the Kushcall. I had actually seen this chair a few years ago and hadn’t stopped thinking about it ever since (making it sound like a bloody Porche or something!). After choosing the colour palette, style and added extras, I put my order in. After a bit of a problem with the factory in Europe, I finally got my new chair. It was a pretty penny or two, but it’s worth it in the long run and for once, I feel confident when I’m in it. It doesn’t make me feel embarrassed to be a wheelchair user, because they’re not always the nicest things to look at.
So what’s happening now? Lifestyle and Mobility asked me a few months ago whether I could write a blog for them, addressing everyday life, problems and the silver linings of my life as well as discussing disabilities in general. I’m a bit ignorant about this, as I’ve never really discussed my disability with the internet.. so it’s new for me, but I am eager to learn.
I would love to know if there is anything in particular that you would like me to talk about in my next blog post please feel free to email me at [email protected]
Follow me on instagram @teegoatier for snippets into my life.