Hi, Jo Logan here!
I am a 43yr old Mum to a, long awaited, precious Daughter, married to the love of my life Mark and I was born with Spina Bifida which, in many ways, has shaped the path my life has taken.
I’m very close to my Mum, disabled children often are, it’s a bond formed largely from the sheer amount of time spent with one another but more so from the trust that’s created. No child really understands what is happening to them, but they know their parent is there and that sets a precedence for the rest of your life.
I endured a childhood of operations and gruelling rounds of treatments to get where I am now. I had major spinal surgery in Great Ormond Street when I was just 6yrs old in a bid to stop a spinal spur that was growing in the ‘wrong’ direction. If nothing was done this spur would corkscrew through my spine and I would lose the use of my arms and breathing would be difficult, luckily, their invention was a success and I was spared this extra challenge.
Unfortunately, because of the late diagnosis, the nerves to my bladder and bowel were irreversibly damaged, and after a childhood of debilitating infections, at the age of 6yrs old, I was taught how to catheterise myself. This was something I took to almost overnight and subsequently allowed me to stay well and reduce at least one area of intervention.
The issue with my bowels took a lot longer to resolve, I think, and thoroughly understand, both my Parents and the medical profession were reluctant to give me something more ‘permanent’ due to my young years and so instead I continued to have different treatments, all of which were painful and ultimately failed. The conclusion was soon drawn that my young life was being dominated and hindered by pain and discomfort and the decision was made – a colostomy was the only way I could regain my life, albeit with challenges, but these would be doable ones that would require more tenacity than pain threshold to get through.
I was given a colostomy just as I was knocking on the door of my teenage years, I will admit, that was tough. I had all the usual feelings of self-awareness and the peaks and troughs of hormones all with a new edition – a bag.
This was a complete juxta, my life had been handed back to me, yet I had the feeling that Mount Everest was at my feet and I looked up at it, dauntingly. Seeing my own Daughter tackle the ups and downs of her teenage years has made me realise not just how strong I was but just how incredibly gifted I was, and still am, to have such a strong and tenacious Mum, because enduring something is one thing, but being a helpless bystander to someone you love is quite another.
However! With the best family and best friend, who I’m proud to say still is to this day, I made it through those years coming out the other side a more resourceful, determined and confident person. Just as I approached the final year of my teens, it was at that point, my whole life changed for the absolute best – I met the love of my life, my Husband.
After spending many a night, laying awake, worrying how I would be able to get past rejection, and I can even remember thinking I could hide my stoma from a partner which, of course, now seems absolutely absurd but at the time it was a far more attractive option than rejection. I hadn’t been with Mark for long when I felt I could approach the subject.
All those sleepless nights just disappeared with what he said to me, which still stays with me now and it was this, “It’s nobody’s place to ‘accept’ anything about anyone other than the contents of their heart, if they try to, they aren’t ready to love anyone yet”. Those words changed everything and unravelled a whole bunch of emotions within me, they helped me to start living ‘my’ life not the one I thought I should.
Many years have passed now, around 25 I think! I’m a permanent wheelchair user now and I try and balance the life I’ve always wanted for myself: Being a Wife, a Mum and having a career I adore. Some of these are different in some ways but for the most parts they are no different from anyone else.