October 18, 2021 by Glenn Mangurian
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all
- “In My Life” John Lennon / Paul McCartney
If you Google “disability”, you are likely to find a wide range of impairments that are common among
people of all ages. Some are present at birth, others arrive unexpectedly through life experiences or as
we age. Sixty-one million adults (one in four) in the United States live with some type of disability.
A disability is not something we seek but something that finds us and alters how we live. There are
people living with disabilities all around us. For example, it could be an aging relative with a medical
condition, a child on the autism spectrum, a spouse dealing with clinical depression, a veteran suffering
with PTSD, a friend with hearing or visual impairment or a student coping with a learning disability.
Earlier this week, October 10th was recognized as World Mental Health Day - an international day for
global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
If you are a regular reader of this column you know I live with a physical disability. In 2001 I suffered a
spinal cord injury and became paralyzed from the waist down. As you can imagine for the past 20 years
I’ve faced many challenges as I have rolled through life. The physical challenges are most obvious. I can’t
stand or walk. I tell people that I am vulnerable to 100 things but only know of 20. I’ve fallen out of my
wheelchair while traveling on a brick sidewalk and been hit by a moving SUV in a parking garage.
Interestingly 99% of the people I encounter in a month only know me from my wheelchair. I’m fortunate
to have a loving family and a great support network that help maintain a positive identity beyond the
“guy in the wheelchair”.
Many of us have preconceived notions and biases about those who are living with disabilities. Sadly the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that only 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were
employed. I’ve chose to focus on what I can do rather than be constrained by the limitations of my
physical mobility. I’ve accomplished many things before and after my injury. I’ve taught leadership at
UMass and Northeastern. I enjoy writing. In addition to my occasional Hingham Journal opinion column,
I’ve written a book and an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Realizing What You’re Made Of”.
Fourteen years later I continue to get emails from readers telling me how my experience has helped
them during a time of personal crisis. So you see, I still have a productive and active life.
On Wednesday, October 20, I will participate as a panelist in Hingham Unity Council’s virtual
conversation (cohosted with the Hingham Commission on Disabilities) on what it is like living disabled in
Hingham. I will join two other residents as we share personal stories of a “day in the life”, followed by a
Q&A. You can register online at https://hinghamunity.org/ Please join us. I look forward to seeing you
Glenn Mangurian has been a resident of Hingham for 35 years. He is a retired business leader with more than four decades of experience driving innovation and results with his clients. Glenn remains active with his writing, speaking, family, and community.
In May 2001, Glenn suffered an injury to his spinal cord, resulting in the paralysis of his lower body. Drawing on his personal experience, he authored an article titled “Realizing What You’re Made Of,” which was published in March 2007 in the Harvard Business Review. In May 2017 he published his first book, Pushing the Edge of Thought, Possibility and Action – Questions and Insights from Everyday Life.
Glenn Mangurian can be reached at: [email protected]