My name is Cathy Devine, I am a 46 year old woman with a disability called Spina Bifida, it is a birth defect that effects my mobility, my legs, my spine and bladder, my weight, most importantly, my confidence. When i was born my mother was told I wouldn’t go very far in life but she saw possibilities and was and still is my protector, sometimes too much for my liking hahaha but she is my mother and i love her so much. Like all daughters and mothers we have had our problems especially about my constant pushing for independence, but she is coming around although i sometimes have to try to slow her down.
I was Easter Seals Poster child when i was 6 years old and then again when i was either 7 or 8, it was a huge honor both times, i am going to back track just a little and tell you i was in a half body cast when i was 3 years old for a whole month because i had two hip surgeries that were unsuccessful but i surprised everyone.
My doctor told my mom i was his miracle child (patient), as i started to walk with a walker and leg braces eventually graduating to walking with crutches and walked with them all the way thru high school. Even at that young age I wanted control over my body and freedom to do what other kids did.
After a couple years went by i actually got the best present ever, I was able to buy my very first pair of tennis shoes that a pair of AFO braces could fit in. Let me tell you, i was EXCITED.
In 1993 when I was 17 years old i got involved with an organization for people with disabilities who want to live independent in their community. This is where i met my mentor Marion Trimble who was a disability advocate. I call her (MOM 2) because she made me feel like i was a part of her family and didn’t pity me, her advice and her talks i will forever treasure. She kept me focused about the Importance of independence, she has drilled it into my head that I CAN do ANYTHING I put my mind to.
I am now writing a cookbook for people with disabilities, whatever
that disability may be. Writing a cookbook has always been a
dream of mine and i am doing just that, Of course i couldn’t do it without the love and support of my mentor, my mom and family, my friends and the love of my life, Jeff. He pushes me to be the best me i can be. We had a Commitment Ceremony in 2019 but we have been together 9 years. He is my soulmate and my forever friend. I am also doing food articles for Disability- Connections on the Facebook page and the Disability-Connections website.
I am STILL learning things about food and cooking with my disability by using my research, writing the articles and compiling the cookbook which is also helping me through my depression and my anxiety issues. Getting back to the food and cooking interest, I have cooked things that I thought
were impossible to do with a disability which now necessitates me using a powerchair but i have learned tricks and ways to do it that are comfortable for me, so i learned that nothing is impossible and with all the technology and cooking gadgets it is so much more fun than i ever knew it could be.
Since then i have learned to tell myself that I CAN DO THIS. I am learning to cook A LOT healthier also because i have Hypothyroidism so my metabolism is slow, so i am doing more research on that and other health issues that are in my family so i can try to help them as well.
In conclusion, life is harder for someone with a disability but nothing we all can’t overcome, and that is the advice i have for everyone. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try things that you would never think of doing with a disability and RUN WITH IT, DON’T GIVE UP on your dreams, you can do anything you put your mind too and NEVER let people tell you
that you can’t do it, i’ve been there and done that, it’s no fun. Love yourself and others and lets turn this world upside down and SHOW EVERYONE you can do it, and you are worth it!
Check out Cathy’s Recipes
(If you would like to share your story of your disability journey
email to firstname.lastname@example.org)