Life Of Someone Who Had To Online Learning Due To Illness Or Injury

Valletta: “My French drive went to the head.

Listen, I’m no internet evangelist or expert. I know that access is everything—when you can get online to get online—but this is also why I dig on life hacks and useful skills online.

Kathy and I met through a dating app, and we’ve spent more than a year and a half as a couple. I like to say that I’m “glib” because I like to talk trash (but only online), but I’m also a smart user of resources, and especially technology. And when my husband suffered a spinal fracture on our honeymoon this past summer, I went online to find the answers. We both appreciate how online education can offer us solace and tools that are just impossible to physically access in person.

After a major accident on our wedding day, I’ve learned how, when I can, I have to be proactive about asking for help from my community, and I do my best to make that happen by scheduling frequent and set time for care. But that’s not always possible, and it took a while for me to accept that it was just not possible for Kathy. When you’re newly married, and you’re touring the United States on a scenic European honeymoon, and you’re living together and trying to figure out what happens next and finding out that something’s wrong, there’s really no way to solve the problem without a good resources list.

What I learned on my journey of online searching has become valuable advice for anyone going through a personal or significant illness or injury that requires daily living or help. My recovery was (and is) on hold and full of setbacks, but I was glad to be able to do things like learn to walk unassisted and fall back on my old skills.

First, though, I wanted to learn what resources were out there. Then, I wanted to learn what tools could best help in Kathy’s situation. There was one resource that I really wanted to know more about: Let’s Drink Up.

Let’s Drink Up is an organization that helps people coping with disabilities to find peer networks and live meaningful lives. This brand-new docudrama shows how the organization serves people like Kathy, and its progress is palpable and inspiring. I love it so much I produced a podcast called ‘People Like You,’ a seven-part podcast series, on our favorite topic of people with disabilities and advocacy.

Before I knew it, I was watching the documentary and finding the tools I was looking for. People with disabilities don’t really have to worry about whether their needs can be met—we tend to be pretty ahead of our time on the issue. But Kathy’s need wasn’t uncommon, and I found opportunities to make real improvements for her.

I stumbled on Let’s Drink Up’s online portal, where I could search for a slew of ways to live and love without limitations. Here I found recipes that show Kathy how to cook the very foods she likes to eat for her comfort. I learned things like there are blind bars at many McDonald’s that Heather stands in during her mobile order. (You can read more about their relationship and learn how she gets around here.) I read up on the many pieces of “eating aids” in vogue today. And I sought out projects that helped Kathy get more active (and hilarious) because in Kathy’s words, “You only live once, so why not have fun while you can?”

I hope that by giving Kathy this valuable resource, her life feels easier. That she may feel less restricted. That she’ll feel healthier and more empowered. In addition to the tools in Let’s Drink Up, I recommend giving yourself a very long list of resources whenever you need help, and talking about them with the people you care about. Your digital toolbox is already filled with amazing resources, whether it’s local doctors, organizations, politicians, and friends and family, but you never know what’s out there when you’re not looking.

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