Gerry’s guest post is the 7th post in the segment on my blog, called “The Reality Of…” which gives others the ability to share their story and raise awareness of the disabilities, illnesses, impairments and invisible illnesses that they have
*TRIGGER WARNING! MENTION OF SUICIDE*
Good day all! My name is Gerry LaHay, a 52-year-old divorced dad of two. I hail from London, Ontario Canada, and have lived here for 42 years. I’m retired now, due to disability, and spend my time volunteering on various committees that focus on disability, advocating and raising awareness where I can.
I write a blog, “The View from Oxford and Maitland” that changes topics week to week. I have published two books in the last two years: “The Bloody City” (fiction) and “Ramblings of a Pantsless Canadian Old Guy” (non-fiction). I started writing as a way to heal and pursue something I’ve always wanted to do for some time. Now, thanks to my disabilities, I am doing what I want….
As already stated, I am a person with disabilities. I am a type 2 diabetic and with this comes the side effects. One concern is the loss of feeling in your feet, neuropathy, and a lower immune system. In 2016, I cut my right foot and an infection quickly spread. At the same time, I was drinking heavily, and, as a man, I ignored the infection.
On July 9th, 2016, I had a below the knee amputation (BKA) of my right leg. I continued to drink and sink into a deep depression. Life was sucking pretty badly, a divorce, a heart attack and, feeling lost, I killed myself on April 17th, 2017. Luckily, I was found and rescued.
So, an amputee, a recovering alcoholic and suffering from depression and anxiety, I fought back. Unfortunately, amputees are at greater risk of losing their second leg within 5 years. Two months ago, I lost my left leg. However, because I stopped drinking (sober2 years now), in a good state of mind and overall, pretty healthy, I’ve taken this is stride and will be back on two “feet” very soon.
Diabetes is not something to mess with. Managing your diet and sugars are key. Three years ago, I wasn’t taking care of myself and it cost me huge. However, I’m not going to look back and think of coulda, woulda, shoulda. I focus on the future and what can I do to pass along what I have learned from the past couple of years. If I can help others, then I’ve done something good.
Currently confined to a wheelchair, obviously life is a challenge right now, a challenge I readily accept. I now spend my time advocating for those with disabilities and the safety of our citizens overall. I have an opportunity to leave a better footprint and legacy and maybe, just maybe leave this planet in better shape than how I found it.
I face obstacles and at times, discrimination. Instead of getting angry, I try and educate. I’m a stubborn and feisty bastard. I accept the fact that I have these disabilities and deal with them head on. I learned a lot about me and lessons along the way. It is now my role to lead a better life and help others as much as I can.
Here is what I’ve learned:
- Listen to your body and take care of yourself-especially men!!!
- Mental health is a real illness and the world is finally starting to recognize this.
- Talk to people and ask for help. There is no shame in this. Those suffering from mental illness are #sicknotweak.
- Deal with your baggage. You’ll find that you’ll feel better
- As a diabetic, take care of your feet!!!
- You will face challenges, but you know what? You can do this! I was surprised what I could do!
- Alcohol is not the answer
Our world is full of great people who are here to help. It takes courage and strength to manage a disability or disabilities. I was dead! I literally lost everything. Now, here I am two years later, enjoying life and to be honest, I’ve haven’t been this happy in some time. If I can do this, so can you!
My Favourite Superheroes
Now, a proviso of writing this blog was to list who my favourite superhero is. It took a few minutes, but it’s a toss up between Dr. Strange or Thor. I can’t decide. It’s my blog…. deal with it.
Thanks Gerry for sharing your story with my readers and me!