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  • Writer's pictureAthanasia Houvarda

International Day of people with health conditions or impairments.

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

December 3rd is an important day because we celebrate the life of all people with a health condition or impairment, whether visible or not.

About two decades ago, after many consultations with my psychologist, plastic surgeon, oncologist, orthopedic, angiologist, and opthalmologist, I went through a series of physical and mental testing to provide the results of my health to the Greek Government Health committee.

Based on those medical results, they would decide if I was disabled or not.

I vividly remember sitting in the waiting area, anxious to hear my name when it was my turn to be seen.

In my mind, I was still the able person I was before I had the car accident. An accident that left me severely burned and trapped in a scarred and unfamiliar body.

And in my heart, I was still carrying the same dreams of having my own family, although I was diagnosed with serous borderline ovarian cancer.

I was fooling myself. Nothing was the same, and I could definitely not do the things I once could. The ruling of the Health Committee confirmed that. I was classified as 74% disabled. I was devastated. I left the room feeling defeated.

Now what?

What exactly does this number mean? 74%. Does that mean that I have 74% less chance of making my dreams come true?

It is very hard to describe with words the feelings of being classified as disabled when you are still a young girl with dreams and hopes in your heart and your mind.

I was angry.

I felt like 3/4 of ME was taken away.

It wasn't an easy mindset transition. It required a lot of mental work to accept changing from "abled" to "disabled".

For a few years, I continued to feel defeated, allowing my disabilities to disable my life.

I carried this label for years, and it acted as a solid block for all my dreams and expectations in life.

"I can never work again."

"I will always depend on others."

"I won't be able to use my hands again."

"I won't climb mountains or travel the world."

"No one wants someone that can't have children."

"I will be ALONE."

That was my biggest fear. Being alone.

For the next years, I worked hard to familiarize myself with my new, less-able body and to learn how to do things differently. I had good days and bad days; I learned my limits and how far I could push my body.

During this period of reinventing my life, I was introduced to the art world, and that helped me realize that things are not as bad as I thought!

I never knew I was able to paint!

There is something magical about bringing to life a blank canvas. I can still create something from nothing, which is a powerful feeling that has opened up new horizons allowing me to build a future that I can still dream, plan and live.

I am proud to say that today, I am an artist, I am a wife, and a woman with many abilities.

December 3rd is one extra day on the calendar that gives me a reason to celebrate ME!

With my abilities and my disabilities!

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