Try not to cry, you’re much stronger than you think. I know you’re in absolute agony and now struggling to get out of bed most mornings. I also appreciate watching your mobility deteriorate day-by-day is almost impossible to comprehend, particularly because you’ll eventually lose the ability to stand let alone walk.
I promise, however, that such a life-changing turn of events will be the making of you. Thanks to advances in medicine and more to the point your own determination, you’ll quickly adapt and learn to manage the debilitating impact Rheumatoid Arthritis will have on the quality of your life.
Indeed, rather than letting your disability rule or define you, it will become a force for good. You will become a role model for others who are experiencing similar challenges relating to both their physical and mental health. Whilst through your professional endeavours you’ll use your disability to advocate for greater diversity and inclusivity in the legal sector and inspire endless students from minority backgrounds to pursue careers in law.
But I don’t need to tell you there’ll inevitably be many bumps along the way, including multiple operations and prolonged spells at Northwick Park Hospital. One of your longest stints as an inpatient will be next year when at the tender age of 14 you’ll undergo bilateral total hip replacement surgery followed by several months’ intensive physio to get you back on your feet. This will quickly be followed by further operations to fix your knees before they too are traded in for metal ones (Btw – in case you’re wondering, your artificial joints will make the airport scanners go beep. Also, I’m pleased to say that other than your hips, knees, and left shoulder everything else about you will remain truly authentic and long may that continue!).
Anyway, as if learning to walk again is not a big enough challenge, you sign-up to get involved in the annual Blue Peter fundraiser and organise an aluminium tin can recycling campaign at Northwick Park. As is the case with so many campaigns, and much like you learning to walk again, it will start with baby steps with just a few cans being placed in the collection bin you arranged to be set up outside the hospital canteen.
But it won’t take long for news of your campaign to go viral (Fyi – I’m not referring to a medical term here – in the 21st Century viral also refers to when a story starts spreading like wildfire) and for the cans to start piling up. Indeed, such was the phenomenal success of your campaign, Blue Peter awarded you a much coveted Green Badge.
I want to congratulate you in advance for such a triumph. As for taking your first couple of steps after being fully dependent on a wheelchair for almost two years, I could say you’re so brave. However, I won’t because though it sounds like a compliment I’ve now realised that it can come across as patronising. And I also now know, there are absolutely no grounds to patronise you because you’re about to turn into one of the most mature teenagers I’ll ever come across.