It is a Saturday morning and your plan is to run a few errands in town. You board public transport ready to attend to the activities of the day. On route, the vehicle you have boarded gets into an accident that leaves you incapacitated. You have to adjust to living with a disability….
March 8, 2006 was the day Winnie Rose’s life changed. At the time, she was a first year student at Maseno University and was on her way to Kisumu town to run some errands when she got into an accident. So severe was the accident that Winnie was using a wheelchair. “Never had I imagined that my life would change that drastically. I was paralyzed from my chest downwards and had to be hospitalized for fourteen months as doctors battled to nurse me back to health. As if the universe was conspiring against me, my boyfriend at the time couldn’t handle the situation and he eventually ended our relationship. With this turn of event I lost all hope of ever getting married and raising a family. I thought no one else would ever want to be with me,” she says somberly.
Winnie has fond memories of her childhood, which was often marked with play dates with her dolls. During the play dates she would envision herself as a mother; a role she considers very noble. As she grew older, although Winnie ditched the dolls for teddy bears her desire to be a mother someday never left her. She foresaw herself get married and have a family of her own someday and as she grew older this remained at the top of her life goals.
But with the injuries sustained from the accident, Winnie was immobile and had to depend on people for basic things including being bathed, dressed and fed. She explains, “I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that this was the life I would have to adjust to. All my hopes to get married and be a mother someday, died.”
The battle of the mind…
Aware that true healing comes through acceptance, Winnie knew that although it would take time for her to accept herself and her circumstances, she eventually had to. She remains indebted to her family as they were always there to offer her the much needed support. This played a key role in her journey to recovery. Winnie was able to eventually resume her studies in campus and graduate with a degree in counseling psychology. Today she uses her personal experience and the knowledge she has gained to encourage others who have spinal injuries that life can still go on even after incurring life-changing injuries and be fulfilling.
“It was while in campus that I met a man who loved me as I am and is now my husband. A lot of what I believe about myself is because of him as he has always encouraged me that there is nothing wrong with me that needs to be fixed. He helped me realize I was whole and could live a fulfilled life despite my disability. Our relationship like any other has had its fair share of challenges but we are very happy. My encouragement to those who are with living with different disabilities is that God knows, understands and has the answers for every situation you are facing and that wholeness can only be found within. Therefore looking for someone or something to make your life complete is an illusion that will only frustrate you or put a burden onto your partner,” she says depicting lots of wisdom.
The joys of motherhood…
When Winnie first discovered that she was expectant, she recalls being overwhelmed with joy and anxiety in equal measure. She explains, “This was my miracle having longed to be a mother for a longtime. I remember being so happy all the time that my aura just changed. The thought I was carrying a baby in my womb made me smile even when facing a hard time.”
At first Winnie had fears that she might not feel her baby move or her water might break without her knowledge but thankfully none of that happened. In addition with the limitation of her hands she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to carry, bath or change her baby. However she confesses that since she gave birth to her child, he has lacked nothing and that she is able to care for him the best way she knows.
“When I look at my baby right now I can’t help but thank God for being gracious to me. Indeed I can testify that God wipes our tears and He answers prayers. My baby is my miracle and I am living a fulfilled life,” she concludes with a sparkle in her eyes.
Story by Esther Kiragu, Ability Africa Magazine Editor.