Woman on mobility scooter with pug in front basket

PUTTING ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER AND PUSHING ON IS THE PHILOSOPHY FEROS CARE PARTICIPANT JENNY LIVES BY, AS SHE NAVIGATES HER WAY TOWARDS INDEPENDENCE.

Always attempting to live a productive life, Jenny, who lives with genetic disorder Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), has never wanted her condition to hold her back, despite having over 100 fractures, mostly through falls, since she was 18-months-old.

Now 57, Jenny’s goal for independence was threatened when she went “downhill” six years ago, with menopause and complications weakening her bones further, causing deteriorating health, reduced mobility, and further complications to her hearing.

HOW THE NDIS IS HELPING TO CHANGE LIVES

But since becoming a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant just prior to last Christmas, Jenny is now on the path to living her best life possible, with a Queen-sized power bed, mobility scooter, car modifications and in-home supports completely turning her world around.

“After having an assessment with an occupational therapist (OT), requests were put through for equipment to make my life easier and to give me back some independence,” Jenny said.

“I used to use a waterbed which was so low, I was crying getting out of bed, and my husband had to sleep on the couch.

“But the new bed lifts at the back and foot of the bed and it’s amazing… My husband, David, said he’s never known me to be so comfortable, and we are able to sleep in the same bed for the first time in close to five years.

“He no longer has to push me in a wheelchair either, as I now have my own portable scooter and I can go out by myself instead of having to rely on my husband.   

“My car was modified with a boot opener and my scooter fits in and folds up easily. I can now go out shopping by myself and I can maintain my independence. I’m just so grateful.”

The return to happiness takes Jenny back to a time prior to her deterioration, where she was bodybuilding, jogging, running the City to Bay marathon and taking part in a 12-week body transformation program, Maxine’s Challenge, to lose 43 kilos and defy odds in the process.

That Jenny, who is The OI Society of South Australia representative, even got to that point is a testament to her positive disposition and steely determination to not be held back.

But she knows things can change in a hurry. Not downplaying the challenges she faces, Jenny’s grandmother, grandaunt, father, three of her four children, and several of her nine grandchildren, have all inherited the genetic disorder.

Crediting her father as the real “hero”, Jenny has heartbreakingly watched on as his breaks, seizures, knee replacements and a leg amputation pose a stark reality of what may lay ahead.

With her father’s ordeal providing increased motivation for maintaining independence, Jenny was determined to return to where she was physically and mentally six years ago. Realising she needed assistance, Jenny’s search for help led her to the NDIS.

“I avoided applying for the NDIS for a long time as I thought, ‘there’s people far worse off than me and I don’t deserve it’,” Jenny said.

“But my doctor, who is one of my angels, convinced me to apply. I got a call just before Christmas to say I was approved, and the lovely Janet from Feros Care came out and helped me set everything up.

“I’ve been taking baby steps with it, and I’ve been up to Feros Care in Barossa a couple of times as I thought I’d done something wrong with my funding, but they have all been amazing and alleviated my fears.”

Loving her bed, it’s Jenny’s mobility scooter which has been turning heads in wider society.

Not just impressing people with its sleek design, it’s the basket eternally occupied with Jenny’s beloved pug, Gidget, which completes the package, during a Bunnings run or a spot of shopping with Jenny’s support worker.

“I’d been loaned a scooter and I had to give it back, but the new one is same model, and I always get stopped and get asked about it,” Jenny said.

“Gidget sits in the basket and we go everywhere… she’s 20-weeks-old and she has an attitude like a 13-year-old teenager.

“We’d lost our two dogs and one was like my hearing dog, and when he passed, it was heartbreaking. I didn’t think I could ever have another one, but David said I needed a puppy, so we got Gidget.

“She’s a handful, but I love her to bits. She keeps me moving and my husband calls us the “dynamic duo”.”

Aside from her assistive technology, Jenny’s next challenge will see her utilise her NDIS plan to access physical supports, which wouldn’t have been financially possible previously.

Receiving the treatments that she needs, Jenny is also seeing a sports physiotherapist who is planning a program for her to start back in the gym, and she recently had her first remedial massage this month.

Feeling far safer in the home, Jenny also now has a funded personal fall detecting alarm, which alerts emergency services, her husband, and her daughter, if she doesn’t respond to the alarm in 30 seconds.

While she knows she has a long way to go, Jenny said she’d never expected to be able to make it this far, as not all that long ago, David was considering early retirement from his gruelling career in transport, to help care for Jenny.

Without the intervention of the NDIS, Jenny said the decision would have been financially catastrophic for her and her husband of almost 40 years, but the outcome has been far better.

HOW POSITIVITY AND SUPPORTS HELP TO FUEL JENNY’S DETERMINATION FOR LONG-TERM INDEPENDENCE

“My long-term goal is to remain independent, and with this journey, I knew I had to ask for help,” Jenny said.

“Now I have a support worker, and even a gardener who comes in and that’s made life more bearable and means David and I can spend more time together. We’re spending quality time together and that’s just brilliant.

“Being able to sleep in the same bed is fantastic… I missed it so much and missed him being there. During the night I had to ring him on my mobile if needed him, but now he’s right next to me and right there if I need him.”

Now receiving the support she and her family needs, Jenny said she’ll continue living by her motto of putting one foot in front of the other as, with the help of Feros Care and the NDIS, she shifts her full focus to achieving her goal.

“Falling is always on the back of my mind; I get the dizzy spells, and I have no idea why some days it’s worse than others, but that makes me more fearful,” Jenny said. 

“I grab hold of everything as I’m afraid of falling… it’s not great to live with, and the pain is still there, but I just need to put one foot in front of the other and push on. There are people far worse off, and I grant myself lucky to have the help I’ve got.

“It’s been hard mentally during the current climate being at home, so it’s good to start getting out, and the bed, scooter and car modifications have made an enormous change to my life.

“The NDIS and Feros Care help people to transform their lives, which is amazing… you should all be proud, and now it’s time for me to get through the rest of my life.”

HOW SOME OF OUR OTHER PARTICIPANTS ARE LIVING THEIR BEST LIVES.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR ROLE IN THE DISABILITY SPACE BY CLICKING HERE.

Read More

Read more from our blog

Go to blog

Stay in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe here