It’s no secret that I am severely paralysed, I broke when neck when I was 18. It left me a C5 complete tetraplegic/quadriplegic which means my arms and legs are both paralysed.
To be honest, most of my body is paralysed. It’s not something I focus on a lot or at least is not something that I share very often.
Yes, I say I’m paralysed, but to go into detail like I have in this podcast is something entirely different.
Here is the video: My morning routine – Steven Webb
I am a C5 complete tetraplegic/quadriplegic. This is my morning routine, I don’t normally share such vulnerability however I think it’s time I did.
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Full transcript of this podcast
Hey, welcome to Living Deeper Lives. I’m Steven Webb, your host. And I was thinking about what happened here this morning and the last couple of days and I decided to let it all out in a podcast. This podcast is all about that. I hope you enjoy.
I done something this morning that something I wanted to do for a long time, but been terrified of doing it for so many reasons, and I did it. And I cannot believe how much of my life I’ve been hiding away. I really have. You may think, well, he’s got 60,000 followers on Facebook, 110 or a 105, I don’t know how many on Twitter. I put videos out, I’m doing this podcast, but there’s a huge part of my life that I hide away from. I hide it away from the public. And it’s so visible. It’s so obvious to anybody I meet. Yeah, I hide it. And this part of my life is my disability. Me being paralyzed.
It’s not because I deliberately go, I don’t want anybody to know I’m paralyzed. I’m ashamed of it or anything. I don’t really know why, but I just tend to get on with my life. I don’t know if I’m a good advocate for disabled people or a terrible advocate for disabled people. I remember when just after I broke my neck after I could start to talk and I had my tracheotomy out because for the first four months I could not talk. And I had a phone call from a friend of mine, Judy and Lloyd, and they had a son called Louis and he was about five or six I believe at the time.
And Judy had said to me, “Louis has got something he wants to say to you.” And they put him on the phone. He held up, he said, “I’ve got a job for you.” It’s like, “Okay.” He says, “Yeah, I was in town the other day and they were wheelchair dancing and they said they would have a job for you when you come home.” And I just thought that was so cute. Just such a wonderful, wonderful. I don’t know if it’s naive or just optimistic or just he’s in a wheelchair, so they go, they’re in a wheelchair as well. Put in a job. Makes sense. If you’re short, be a jockey. If you’re tall, be a basketball player. If you’re in a wheelchair, be a wheelchair dancer. I thought that was a wonderful little thing.
But since then, I’m not a member of disabled clubs. I don’t go to meetups with people that are in a similar position than me. And I don’t know whether it’s because I avoid it. I don’t know whether it’s because I don’t want to see myself. I have no idea. This year I did go to meet up with some other spinally injured. The message come up on Facebook and said, “Are you coming to the Christmas dinner?” And because it was all of us in the same chat and I went and read it, I was like, ah, damn it. I kind of got to reply now. I said, “Yeah, I’ll go.” I went and met a few others and people I hadn’t met and one of them looked up and said to me, it’s so funny because on the way there, Diane, my friend said to me, “Why don’t you go to these things?” And I said, “I don’t know. I don’t want to hang around with them.”
I was joking. It was like the one thing with spinally injured people is we have a wonderful sense of humor and we joke about being disabled all the time. It’s not something we’re ashamed of. It’s just something we are. And we have a laugh with it. And I think if we said some of the jokes we say in private in public, I don’t think it would go down that well. And even my daughter, we just joke a little bit and so I got to this Christmas lunch. It was an amazing Christmas lunch. We all went in there. And I was sat next to a guy that I had just met and he looked up and said to me, he says, “Why don’t you come and hang out with us? How come we haven’t met you before? We’ve heard about you but we haven’t seen you.” And I just looked at Diane across the table and she laughed and I laughed and he looked at me and goes, “It’s because you don’t want to hang out with us, isn’t it? Be honest.”
And I just looked over and burst out laughing again because yes, yes. But that’s not because I don’t want to hang out with them. Maybe there is some thing that I’m frightened of putting out there. I don’t know. I’m on the city council. I join him with discussions. And when somebody stands up and mentions about something about disabled or something, I’m like, oh I should have thought about that. But I didn’t. It did not occur to me.
I did something this morning that really has lightened something off me. While I was waiting for the carers to come in, I thought, I’m going to film them getting me out of bed. I don’t know why, but I was ready to do this. It’s like come a time in my life where look, here I am, I’m naked, this is who I am. I got a pot belly. I haven’t got the perfect body. I often joke about that, I don’t know if you ever remember that video from that was supposed to be from one of the alien autopsies and you’ve got this little alien lying there with a potbelly. Well, I often joke that that’s my body with the little skinny legs and the potbelly. And I tend to hide it. I tend to do my lives from my, just above my belly. And I tend to not put any pictures out or anything like that.
Whereas yesterday on my live, I pulled and said, “Hey look, here’s my belly.” Where’s the gift in my belly?” Well it stops me falling out when I go down the Hill and have to stop suddenly. It stops me chewing my knees whenever I have to stop suddenly and not run over somebody. It keeps me sat up. What a wonderful gift that is. Otherwise I would have to have seatbelt in my wheelchair. This morning I said to the carer when they come in, I said, “We’re going to film getting me out of bed.” And of course my bad, my getting up morning routine is hoisting up in the air, going across the room and down into the shower chair, completely naked, completely ball out naked, everything hanging out. It really is not something that you would ever want the world to see.
But we filmed it. We filmed it on a time lapse and I had a shower and I come out and I hoisted back up, across the room, down onto the bed. Got dressed and into the chair, got my tops on and we checked the video and do you know, it wasn’t too bad. I had to cut a couple of frames, obviously for obvious reasons, censorship, but I uploaded it to my Inner Peace Academy group and one of the members said to me, “I didn’t realize how disabled you were.” And I put it on my Twitter and I got a couple of messages immediately. I didn’t even know you were disabled. And of course, because I’m in the position I am, I broke my neck, I’m paralyzed, I’m severely disabled.
And whenever someone says they’re severely disabled, I always think of someone worse than me. But then when I look at the levels of disability, if there is such a scale of how disabled you are, I’m pretty serious. I can’t walk, I cannot weight bear at all. I need 24 hour care. I suffer from a condition called autonomic dysreflexia, which nearly all spinal injuries people do, which means if something goes wrong and below my level of feeling, creates hypertension really seriously high and it can end up in a stroke or death. And it needs user intervention by a trained member of staff very quickly. And that’s why I have 24 hour care. When it comes to being disabled, I’m pretty seriously disabled. Yet I tend to not point that out.
I tend to go to meetings, I speak to people on the phone and I don’t even mention it. I book into restaurants and the people I’m booking in with will say, “You did mention you’re in a wheelchair.” I have to phone them back and say, “Oh, by the way, I’m in a wheelchair.” Like I forgot, but because it’s not a focus of my life. Because I don’t spend every day, I’m in a wheelchair, I’m disabled. This is my normal life and I am glad we live in a society where we are majorly better catered for now. Most shops I can get into, most restaurants I can get into. Most devices nowadays with devices I cannot name because they’ll start talking to me in and around my home.
Alexa and Google. If I mentioned those things out loud, they’ll turn lights on for me. They’ll do different things for me around the house. They’ll tell me the time. They’ll tell me what’s up. They’ll tell me, it’s not going to be long before they tell me how I’m feeling in the morning. When you say, “Good morning, Alexa, how was your day?” And we’ll have a discussion about it. But you have access to that the same as me. Voice software. You have it on your phone the same as I do. Years ago we had to spend a fortune to get it. I was a big trialer of that. I use an electric wheelchair. You guys are now paying a premium to have electric vehicles. Catch up. Come on. We’ve been paying a premium for years. We’ve been saving the planet for, no, I’m joking. I’m joking. I know you’ve been saving the planet better than we have because you can walk.
But isn’t it funny. I put this video online and I will put a link on this podcast to the video and my God, I feel alive. I feel like as if something is lifted off me and said, “Hey look, this is who I am.” And I’ve got a tear in my eye now recording this podcast because I didn’t know I was hiding it. I didn’t know I was hiding it. I had no idea. And I wonder what we’re all hiding. I wonder how many of us are hiding behind things that we don’t see as perfect. Nobody’s perfect. Perfect does not exist. If there’s any spiritual teachers or gurus out there that tell you, “The moment is perfect.” Well you can write off because the moment is not perfect. There’s no, there’s nothing perfect about starving children. There’s nothing perfect about me being paralyzed. There’s nothing perfect about any of us, but we’re all doing okay and we all can accept ourselves from what we are.
But I wonder how many of us are hiding behind the makeup or hiding behind the gym or hiding behind the diets and hiding behind our careers and this illusion of somebody else. I wasn’t fake. I wasn’t lying when I help people and I use my wisdom and my emotional waking up and that kind of all that. I don’t feel I’m fake. But I didn’t feel the need to tell the world that I was in a wheelchair and I don’t feel I need to now. The world’s never asked me to, but I feel by unpeeling that level of layer and exposing it and saying, “Hey look, I am seriously, really severely disabled.” Is something that’s lifted off me and look out world, I’m here and this is who I am. This is who I am and you can take it or not. It’s up to you. I’m not bothered either way.
Look at yourself and see what you’re hiding, what you’re hiding behind the shame and I got to say thank you to Brene Brown for this. I’ve watched her Ted videos over the years and I’ve been reading her book Daring Greatly and I think this has influenced what I did this morning and how I’m feeling at the moment. And I didn’t know I was hiding behind shame. Was I had been shameful of my disability? I don’t know. I don’t know. I didn’t feel like I was because I lived life to the full. I love my life. I love everything about life. The fact that we’re alive and we can think and we have this experience is just incredible. I’m talking to you on a podcast recorded that potentially millions of people could listen to all over the world. I’m talking about living deeper lives and this is how we live a deeper life. By opening up and becoming who we are and showing the world, hey, this is me. Take it or leave it. This is me.
Thank you for this. Thank you for allowing me to have this platform. Thank you for listening. Thank you for spending this time with me. I’m Steven Webb and I’m your host of Living Deeper Lives, and you can head over to my website, stevenwebb.com. Or if you would like to download my book Finding Inner Peace, go to steven.gift. Just a simple steven.gift. Look, I love you guys. Take care. Thank you. And if you could leave a review for this podcast, that would be awesome.