My Disability Won’t Keep Me Down
January 25, 2017 | Express Scripts
As Tom Hanks so famously said in Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” To me, these are important words to remember and live by.
As a child, I was always very active and participated in a wide variety of sports. However, when I was just 19 years old, I began to have problems getting up out of a chair or off the couch. My mother made the trek with me to three different doctors to find out why this was happening. When no one had the answers, she took me to a hospital emergency room. It was there that a specialist discovered I had arthritis and a nerve disease. From that point on, I was required to wear special shoes and start taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
Over the years, I have suffered broken bones and multiple injuries to my Achilles tendon and foot as a direct result of my condition. I have been in a wheelchair eight times – each time for a period of 12 to 18 weeks. After 30 years of treatment with NSAIDs, I developed stage 3 kidney disease. Because of this, for the past decade, I have been unable to take any pain medication, so I rely on over-the-counter creams, essential oils and hot baths to help ease the pain.
Although I was not born with a disability, I have been disabled to some extent all of my adult life. However, I don’t let my disability keep me down. I look at the rest of the world and know there are many people with bigger troubles than my own.
Every day, I make a conscious effort to wake up with a positive attitude and pursue my passion for helping others, solving problems and making the workplace the best it can be. I’ve worked at Express Scripts for 23 years and, in my current role, I get to focus on helping employees live their best lives using the benefits Express Scripts offers. I joined Express PossAbilities, one of our Employee Resource Groups, because I am passionate about what they are doing to promote disability awareness in our workplace. I feel very fortunate to work for a company who proactively and willingly embraces inclusion.
While I make a tremendous effort to pursue my passion at work, I also focus on truly living at home. I have an electric cart and, when I am able, I go shopping and traveling. I plan to have a great time living life to the fullest.
In many ways, my disability has helped shape who I am as a person. It’s influenced my career choice, as well as my outlook on life, in big ways. If you take just one thing away from my story, I hope it’s the realization that not everyone is born with their disability. Disabilities can turn up later in life, sometimes when you least expect it. My message to you is to take care of your body and do the best you can to stay healthy. Do your part to enable your body to its fullest, but if life throws you a curve ball, know you can get through anything with determination and a positive attitude.
Karen is a Sr. Benefit Specialist on the Human Resources team.
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