My Story of Independence
Hanna's story of moving out of home and navigating life independently.
Hi there. My name is Hanna. I am 37 years old and I have Spina Bifida and have been in a wheelchair as long as I can remember. This my story about moving away from family to live independently.
I grew up on a farm just out of a little town called Balaklava, which is in the mid north, South Australia. I lived there with Mum, Dad and my two brothers. I really loved farm life! There's so much freedom and space! My brothers and I were always out and about on our motorbikes. When I was young I had a modified quad bike that I'd hoon around on with my brothers and cousins until dark. I loved the farm and I think my parents thought I would stay forever; but, when I was 18 in the year 2000, I moved to Adelaide to study Beauty Therapy.
Moving to the big smoke created a whole other world for me and with that came many good things, but a few challenges too!
When I first moved to Adelaide, I would go to TAFE twice a week and the nightclubs most nights! I have to admit I was definitely what you would call a party animal!... but of course I made sure I studied as well.
Once my course finished I started doing a bit of volunteer work in a beauty salon in Gawler. I then went on to study quite a few other courses and volunteered at some other places. with some paid work in between. This included studying Child Studies and volunteering in a primary school and an aged care home. I also studied Personal Training which helped me to work with people with Spina Bifida and many others along the way.
Some of my biggest struggles with living alone were just the general upkeep of the home; like learning how to cook something other than two minute noodles and learning how to keep bills and appointments in order. I learned very quickly to keep a diary. It was a must for me!
When I first moved I really didn't like being alone in my house at night, so most weekends I would pack up and head back to the farm to the safety of Mum and Dad! Even now at 37 years old I still don’t love being here at night by myself, but I have a lovely boyfriend and kitty cat and I do other things like reading to keep me occupied at night time now. It helps me to not focus on the outside and unfamiliar noises.
In the last four years, I have also had a number of health struggles which have made it more difficult for me to maintain my independence. It started with breaking my leg and then developing a bad case of bursitis which resulted in having to get a new car with a lifter in the boot for my wheelchair. Then I got a really bad bladder infection that put me in hospital and subsequently was diagnosed with Coeliac disease. When I thought I had been through the worst, I was diagnosed with breast cancer; which has definitely tested my strength and resilience.
Looking after my house and health is as hard as it has ever been, but I have definitely learned how to cook a lot better and also I feel I'm a lot better at keeping myself organised! I have someone to help clean once a week and to help with shopping and other things if I need it; but overall I have learned to do a lot more than I suspected.
So far in life a lot has happened to me, and so far I have persisted, so I know now that I can continue.