Brain dump: disability as a percentage

I see a psychologist regularly to help me to deal with my PTSD and all its associated problems following my amputation in 2020.. sometimes in this process old information comes back around again and this is a prime example.

My psychologist asked me what % disability I was assessed at. I couldn’t recall ever getting this information so I got in contact with my case manager.

Apparently I was told the result of this assessment in 2020. The reason I don’t remember is because raw numbers are meaningless to me and in fact most people with Autism.

The % of my disability was classed as 55%.

I have been scratching my head a lot trying to make sense of this number.

That assessment takes into account my amputation, the secondary lymphedema and my PTSD diagnosis.

Things I have thought or been told

  • Apparently for a disability assessment that % is quite high. In fact my psychologist says it’s one of the highest they have come across.
  • My GP also said that was quite high, and with that % they can never expect me to ever be able to return to full time work.
  • This means statistically that I’m able to do less than HALF of what a ‘normal’ person can do in any given day (including physically and mentally)

So this got me wondering.

Para classification

How completely screwy the Para classification system is. In the two sports I have been assessed in I have been classified as 4. (1 being lowest and 5 being highest). The assessment is purely done on physical deficiency only. It does not take into account any pain factors or any mental factors or disabilities)

So why the heck would I put myself through anything para sport related when I’m quite clearly classified as such that I will be at a significant advantage before I even start?

Physical perception

Most people in every day life barely even notice I have a disability, even when I’m wearing a dress. Although I do talk about my PTSD, unless you know me very very well there is no way you can appreciate the significant impact this has on me on a daily basis.

I constantly (to my detriment sometimes) strive to be better, do better, do more.. sometimes with success and often without success.. well not the kind of success I would class as success!

The fact is, this has had a significant impact on me in many many ways and this is something I will have to live with while those who are responsible for the mistakes in the first place continue their merry lives as if nothing ever happened.

55%. That means I’m 55% impaired (adding physical and mental factors together).

That means more than half of what I was able to do before, has been taken away from me.

That % is similar to that given to someone with a significant brain injury.

In other countries – with that % I would have had a compensation payout of more than 5 x times what I was actually given in NZ. And that’s without taking a legal law suit into account (which law prevents me from doing in NZ)

Now I challenge you to tell me I’m no good. Dare to say I’m a failure, or that I am not doing enough, or being enough, or am enough.

With only 45% of the capacity I once had..

In less than three years, I have

  • Completed 33 Parkruns – all of which have been after my amputation
  • Completed 3-4 local mini duathlons
  • Am back swimming similar if not further distances than before
  • Have swum 5KM across lake Wakatipu
  • Have completed a middle distance aquabike race
  • With 5 team mates, won the title of V6 Para Mixed outrigger canoeing world champion for New Zealand in 2022.
  • Managed to keep my business afloat – single handed.
  • Found my soul mate and got engaged

Never forget..

I choose (most of the time) to look at life glass half full. But, the struggle is real, the battles are always there, under the surface.

I choose to project myself as a can-do individual, and not focus on the fact that I struggle to walk more than a km, deal with frequent periods of pain as well as significant mental health issues.

Just because someone ‘looks’ ok doesn’t mean they are.

You have absolutely no idea what their story is. Until you do, do NOT stand in judgement, you don’t have the right.


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Author: Melanie

I am a massage therapist and part time athlete, blogging life thru a disability lens. On wheels, with flipper and occasionally on feet.

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